As we look at the second section of Psalm 119, which is titled “Beth” after the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, I am praying for a special young person who is going through major life changes. How appropriate this second section seems!
Verse 9 begins with a familiar question: How can a young man keep his way pure?
The answer may be less familiar: By guarding it according to your word.
Contrary to Douglas Adams, the answer to life, the universe, and everything in it is not 42. The answer is to guard one’s heart according to God’s Word. Simple to say, difficult to do. But so many young people would save themselves a great deal of grief if they would read the Bible and guard their hearts and lives according to its precepts.
Verse 10 makes clear what kind of devotion is necessary:
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” an old hymn says, “Prone to leave the God I love” (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Psalter Hymnal, 1976, p. 371). We are all inclined to wander; young people especially are inclined to wander from home in many ways.
As the psalmist whole-heartedly seeks God, he asks God to keep him on the straight path of obeying his commandments. While we are responsible to be whole-heartedly devoted to God, we must also be aware of our total dependence upon God to enable us to live for him.
And we can’t possibly know how to live for him if we don’t know his word:
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you (11, ESV).
There’s a lot to be said for requiring children to memorize scripture. Even if they don’t fully understand all the implications of what they memorize, years later they may find themselves in situations when that scripture suddenly becomes more meaningful and personal.
The young person who praises God and seeks his direction will also testify to the truth of God’s Word:
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth (12-13, ESV).
Most young people seek educations that will provide them with lucrative careers. They would find far more happiness if they delighted as much in God’s Word!
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches (14, ESV).
Delight in God’s Word is not possible without perusal.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word (15-16, ESV).
The young person (or anyone of any age) who meditates on God’s Word and remains focused on his precepts will experience delight. By God’s grace, the person who remembers biblical teachings will find joy through all of life.