The Psalm of the Word (Part 2): Purity

The Psalm of the Word

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.

I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

(Psalm 119:9-16)

After emphasizing the fact that God’s word is a blessing to us, David discussed a characteristic that will be developed in the lives of those who faithfully follow the word – purity.

Following God’s Word Keeps Our Way Pure

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).

The reason why keeping God’s word results in purity in our lives is because the word of God itself is pure. David wrote in another psalm: “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6). The wise man wrote, “Every word of God is tested (pure, KJV); He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Proverbs 30:5). There are no impurities or deficiencies to be found in the word of God. It is perfect; therefore, it provides us with the perfect path to purity.

In the New Testament, Peter indicated that the word of God, in its purity, provides a foundation for our spiritual growth. “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

The Lord expects us to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8). This is possible as we follow the word of God. Paul said, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). We continue to teach the word of God today, just as Paul told Timothy to do, because the instructions contained in it show people how to live pure lives.

Young People Can Maintain Purity

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9).

It is important to note that David singled out young men as being able to be pure by following God’s word. This is contrary to the “normal” image of young people that is portrayed by the world today – sexually active and obsessed with immorality. But God created us with free will. Even a “young man” can choose to do what is right. Joseph is an example of this. Despite strong, persistent temptations from Potiphar’s wife to commit fornication with her, he refused her advances, even when it meant having to flee from the house (Genesis 39:7-12). One is able to “flee from youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22) if he will choose to do so.

Solomon wrote, “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). The wise man was not advising young people to experiment with immorality and do whatever feels good. Instead, he advised the young to enjoy life, but to do so knowing that they will be held accountable by God for their choices.

While it is possible for young people to maintain purity, they will not do so if they follow the world. Peter wrote, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desires of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3). If one follows the world, he will pursue the sensuality and lusts that the world pursues.

Young people also will not maintain purity if they follow after their own lusts. James said, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Lust leads to sin. If one is to be pure, he must “flee from youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Young people maintain purity in the same way as anyone else – by following God’s word. This ought to remind us of the importance of being spiritually-minded in one’s youth. “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Paul told Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12). Young people can do this, but they must set their minds to do so.

God’s Word in Our Heart is a Safeguard from Sin

With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:10-12).

To keep from sin, David kept God’s word in his heart. How do we put His word in our hearts?

First, we must seek God wholeheartedly (Psalm 119:10). Paul told the saints in Rome, “Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14). We cannot give any part of our lives over to sin; otherwise, we are not seeking God wholeheartedly. With all of our being we must strive to pursue the things of God rather than the lusts of the flesh.

Second, we have to commit to faithful obedience. David expressed this commitment when he said, “Do not let me wander from your commandments” (Psalm 119:10). Essentially, this commitment to obedience was a commitment to purity since obedience resulted in purity (Psalm 119:9). Job expressed his commitment this way: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). Committing to obey God’s word and maintain purity is crucial.

Third, we must recognize that God is to be “blessed” (Psalm 119:12) and, therefore, not to be sinned against (Psalm 119:11; cf. Genesis 39:9; Psalm 51:4).

Fourth, we need to have a desire to learn God’s word. David wrote, “Teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:12). We cannot keep God’s word if we do not know it (cf. Hosea 4:6).

How We Can Obtain Purity

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

It is not enough to simply have the word of God in our minds – it must be in our hearts. Many have an academic understanding of God’s word, but do not live it. Paul wrote, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?” (Romans 2:21).

We must do more than just know what the word of God says. It must be “treasured in [our] heart” (Psalm 119:11). The wise man said, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). To be pure in our lives, our hearts must be pure. For our hearts to be pure, we must have God’s word written on our hearts.

How We Can Maintain Purity

With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word” (Psalm 119:13-16).

After we have God’s word written on our hearts so that we can live pure live before Him, how can we maintain that purity? David went on to list several things we can do.

First, we must tell others of God’s law (Psalm 119:13). Teaching may not be the first thing we think about as a means of maintaining purity, yet David included it here. The ability to teach is indicative of maturity and the regular practice of God’s word. The Hebrew writer rebuked those who had not yet developed the ability to teach and could not partake of the “solid food” of God’s word (Hebrews 5:12). He explained that this reflected a deficiency in maturity and ability to handle the word: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Of course, our teaching must not be hypocritical (cf. Romans 2:21; Matthew 23:2-3) – we must “practice what we preach.” But the ability to faithfully teach the word of God helps one to maintain the purity demanded by the word of God.

Second, we should rejoice in God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:14). Remember that God’s instructions are for our good. The wise man, in passing down the wisdom that came from above (cf. Proverbs 8:22), advised his son, “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol” (Proverbs 5:1-5). Though this is specifically addressing fornication, the principle extends to all sin in general. The momentary pleasure it may bring is not worth the devastating consequences. Following God’s word helps us to avoid the pain, sorrow, and bitterness that inevitably comes with sin.

Third, we need to meditate upon God’s precepts (Psalm 119:15). Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The more we keep God’s word at the forefront of our minds, the better equipped we will be to keep our lives pure.

Fourth, we are to regard God’s ways (Psalm 119:15). This is the idea of having respect for God and His word. This respect must be grounded in fear and reverence. “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility” (Proverbs 15:33). We must fear God so that we will regard His ways and conform to His standard of purity.

Fifth, we should delight in God’s statutes (Psalm 119:16). Elsewhere, David described the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” as being “blessed” and “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:1-3). Remember that God’s word is the way of blessings and stability.

Sixth, we must remember God’s word (Psalm 119:16). If we forget God’s law, we will not practice it. James contrasted the “forgetful hearer” with the “effectual doer” of the word (James 1:25). He wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Those who forget God’s word will inevitably revert back to the life of “filthiness” and “wickedness” they left when they came to the Lord (James 1:21).

Conclusion

If we want to obtain and maintain purity, then we need to follow God’s word. We must treasure His word in our hearts and keep His commandments.


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Comments

  1. I am enjoying your weekly studies. Working on Psalm 119, I love it so much! Ready today to do part #3. I am 80 yrs old but oh the joy for studying God’s Word. I am learning so much still. Thank you for your lessons!
    Phyllis

  2. Hi, Phyllis! Thanks for reading. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying these studies. There’s always more to learn about God’s word, no matter how long we’ve been studying it.