Beth (b) Stanza (9-16)
When a young person and the world intersect, it can be an overwhelming experience. How many times does the world win! The author of Psalm 119 (Daniel, as I have proposed) either finds himself, or in later reflection found himself, bombarded by the allurements of the world. With few exceptions, the Jews who were deported, were acclimating to their new life and being enculturated into their new world, not unlike a young person who goes off to university. Far from Jerusalem, far from mother and father, far from Torah’s presence and thus God’s presence, the temptations were all around.
After the opening stanza, which focused on the importance of dependent obedience, the Psalmist begins this stanza with a related and all-important question: How can a young man keep his way pure? The remainder of the stanza deals with that question one way or another. “All the basics of personal sanctification are variously integrated into the curriculum of real life: God, the gracious Teacher; the psalmist, the dependent disciple; and the Textbook, the sufficient Word” (Zemek).
The Question and Answer Framework (9)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
The question relates to living a pure life. Can you imagine Daniel asking this question, living in Babylon? But the question is rhetorical, he knows the answer, “By keeping it according to Your Word.” The standard of a pure life is the Word of God.
Seek the Lord (10)
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
“With all my heart” means “with all that I am, with all sincerity.” J.J. Perowne said, “It is to me no merely outward rule of conduct: it is a power and a life within.”
His humility is striking, “this is my heart, this is my pursuit, but O God, I do not trust myself!” He knows what he is, but he also knows what he is capable of. He needs the Lord to tether him to Himself.
“The man of God exerts himself, but he does not trust himself. His heart is in his walking with God; but he knows that even his whole strength is not enough to keep him right unless his King shall be his keeper, and he who made the commands shall make him constant in obeying them” (Spurgeon).
All I have to do is stop listening for a minute and the spirit of the age is right there to have my ear! A passion for God one minute, a passion for the world the next! How vulnerable we are!
Treasure and Store His Word (11)
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
When the Word is treasured and stored, it provides a great armory against wrong thinking, wrong feeling and wrong actions. To keep our life pure according to God’s Word, we must seek God in His Word and store His Word up in our hearts. The Word is ammunition, threats and promises, to keep us from sinning. The Word shapes our minds and our life. It is the great antidote to sinning against God.
Worship and learn (12)
12 Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.
The Psalmist, for all his commitment and dedication, is the learner, the disciple and God, through His Word, is the Great Teacher. God is the source of truth, knowledge and wisdom. Here is the great pattern for our worship services: Sing His praise and then cry out, “teach me.”
Proclaim what is learned (13)
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
This is not only worship and praise, but also proclamation. Think of Daniel, taking it upon himself to proclaim what he had been learning to his fellow exiles. Proclaiming what we have learned strengthens us. By the way, he is not merely sharing his own personal insights, he is telling God’s words from God’s own mouth.
John Goldingay notes, “Proclaiming them is another indication of my commitment to them. . . When we take things on our lips they become part of us; when other people have heard us say these things, it becomes shameful to do something other than what our lips have said.”
Rejoice in the Word Lifestyle (14)
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
The NET puts it like this, “I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by your rules as if they were riches of all kinds.” He “rejoices (which is an emotion), he exults, takes pleasure in,” these feelings for God’s Word influence his behavior. He rejoices as “in all riches” (cf. Dan. 2:46-48; 5:16-17, 29). He knows what the Word does in him and for him. The more convinced we are of Scripture’s effectual power, the more we will love it and rejoice in it.
Meditate on the Word (15)
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
What fills our minds moves the emotions; what moves the emotions, motivates the will. Meditation and “fixing our eyes” on God’s ways is necessary every day.
Delight in the Word (16)
16 I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.
“I will delight myself” reflects the use of a strong Hebrew term. Most English translations go with “delight.” The verb stem is reflexive and indicates it is repeated. Once again, if one is to keep one’s way pure, there must be deliberate, disciplined delighting in the Word.
Not forgetting the Word underscores the importance of this. Forgetfulness is the open door of sin which can lead to apostasy. To not forget, in the OT, is an ethical matter. To remember is an ethical matter. Delighting in the Word requires that we remember the Word, not forget it or neglect it.
Young people, become immersed in the Word. In an age not unlike Daniel’s in terms of sensuality and worldliness, he found that abiding in the Word was key to keeping his life pure.
How do we keep our lives according to the Word? We seek Him, we treasure and store the Word, we worship, we learn, we proclaim, we rejoice, we meditate and delight ourselves in His Word.
The Word has awesome purifying power!