9How can a young man keep his behavior pure?
By keeping your word.
101I keep my feet away from every evil path
So that I may keep your word.
104From your decisions I gain understanding
So I hate every deceitful way.
105Your word is a lamp for my feet
a light on my path.
128Your commands are all precisely right,
That’s why I hate every false way. — Psalm 119:9, 101, 104, 105, 128
Yesterday I talked about meditating on the scripture as a way to making yourself smarter and wiser. I maintained that meditating on and memorizing scripture, and God’s word revealed by other means, will build your brain power.
But there have been any number of smart people who have made decisions that may have seemed smart to them, but were not the right decisions in a moral sense. It’s very easy for us to get our feet on the wrong path. It’s not enough to be smart; we need to know right from wrong. â€œThere is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends up in death!â€ — Proverbs 16:25
But the Psalmist gives us an answer to this one as well. How is it that one can be rescued? How can one keep pure? Again, it comes from God’s word. How can a young man be pure? God’s word. When are you safe from every evil path? When you’re keeping God’s word. How can you learn to hate deceitful ways? By gaining understanding from the things God says are right. How can you keep on the right path? Shine God’s word on it. Who can provide you with precisely right commands? God can, and he does it through his word.
Now there are a number of mistakes that we could make in reading these verses. The first and foremost mistake is that we might think that we can or should earn God’s favor by doing all of these things. But God’s favor is a matter of grace. In addition, however, God graciously gives us his instructions as a guide. Second, we might think we’re going to get saved by grace, but then we’re going to do all this getting on the path and staying on the path on our own.
The prayer of the Psalmist occurs in the last verse: â€œI have gone astray like a lost sheep. Look for your servant, because I haven’t forgotten your commandsâ€ (v. 176).
Many people also think that they look in the Bible to find more and more things that they are not supposed to do. They create lists of commands that they must obey. The commands just seem to multiply as they look at every moment of their life and try to find precisely the right thing and make a rule of it.
This last part is the devil’s very finest â€œguiltâ€ attack. As you meditate on God’s word you may find out that there are things you thought it said that it doesn’t actually say. People can be drawn to sin by giving them commands that are impossible to keep. We often don’t think when we add rules for our children, in school, or even in our church, that unnecessary rules can produce disobedience. Meditating on God’s word will help you know what the rules really are.
Tyrannical governments use this tactic. If you make enough rules, then everyone will be breaking one, and if you need to get somebody, you have a perfectly good excuse to arrest them and punish them.
Evil knows this tactic as well. Many people have noticed and pointed out that the serpent challenges God’s command in Genesis 3:1-3. He says the first couple will not die. But have you noticed Eve’s misquotation? She adds to the command. According to her, they are not only not to eat the tree, they are not to touch it. Eve didn’t meditate on God’s word enough and learn both what it said and what it did not say.
Finally, for Christians, the key element to meditating on the word is meditating on Jesus, the living Word. He is the one who can fix the guilt problem by his grace received by faith.