Revisiting Psalm 119: A Pragmatic Approach to a Life of Purity in Christ.

In psalm 119: 1-8 David speaks of the blessings of living a life according to God’s word. Psalm 119:1 says “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” Is this something that Christians saved by faith alone need concern themselves about? After all, we are save by faith, not by works. The answer is categorically yes!

While we are not saved by works we are still called to a life of purity through the power of GOD in our lives. The works that we do are a result of our faith, not the base of it, and serves to stand as proof of our conversion.  As the scripture says:

James 2:18-19 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!

 And it also says

1 John 1:6-8 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

(Note the warning against prideful self righteousness in verse eight.)

So how then do we live a life of purity? And why do I seek the answer in a book of the old covenant? David himself addresses how to achieve this life of purity in the following section of the Psalms (Beth) in verses 119: 9-16. The answers to this practical question of how to live a life of purity are congruent with reliance on GOD through Christ, which is why I find them relevant to Christians.

John 15:5-6 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

 So let us look at verses 9-16 of Psalm 119 to see how this is accomplished.

Psalm 119

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Looking at these verses I see three main points of interest:

    • Verse 9 is a question: how can I be pure? It answers the question: living according to God’s word.
    • Verse 10 -11 explain how to do this: 1) seek God 2) obey his word by storing it in our hearts
    • Verses 12-16 explain what it means to do this through David’s example.

I believe that my points about  verses 9-11 are self explanatory, but I would like to highlight what I see in verses 12-16, which detail what it means to store GOD’s word in our heart.

Store up God’s word:

1. Asking God to help you understand the scripture (vs 12)

2. Declaring the word of God; I believe this to be done in two ways:(v13)

    • Rehearse God’s word (Practice it so that you are familiar with it)
    • Sharing God’s word with others (This not only spreads the Gospel, but reinforces what you already know. I find that I gain better understanding and grow greater confidence in he word when I share it with others.)

3. Meditate on the scriptures, focusing on them, looking to them for guidance (vs 15); Take the time to think about GOD’s word. Don’t simply read it and walk away, forgetting what you read. Take it in! Luke 11:28 ESV – [28] But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Joshua 1:8 ESV – [8 a] This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…

4. Delight in them (vs14,16); I believe this is paramount to storing up GOD’s word in our hearts. I can know the word of GOD in my head, but that which I do not delight in does not take up residence in my heart. Matthew 6:21 ESV – [21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

5. Memorization (vs16); When you are convicted by the Holy Spirit to share GOD’s word and message of hope and salvation, will you be able to do it? You don’t always have a Bible, know the word of GOD so that you can use it to spread hope, and to defend yourself and others.

These step are clearly laid out in this Psalms. David recognized, and I hope that we too will recognize, that we can only do this with the help of GOD.

Now I leave you with a verse from a hymn entitled The Psalter, written in 1912.

How shall the young direct their way?
What light shall be their perfect guide?
Thy Word, O Lord, will safely lead,
If in its wisdom they confide.
Sincerely I have sought Thee, Lord,
O let me not from Thee depart;
To know Thy will and keep from sin
Thy Word I cherish in my heart.

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