9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
The second octrain in Psalm 119 centralizes the role of God’s Word in stabilizing our faith. The first verse contains three key components:
- Youth. Impurity lies in wait at every stage of life. The intent, however, is to understand the entire range of life from the dawn of spiritual awareness to end of physical life. This psalm asks how to begin well in walking with the Lord. In this sense, we can understand this psalm to be about those young (new) in their faith, those who have only recently learned about Christ and desire to follow Him obediently. It is for all of us! How does one walk with God and not “fall away”? 
- Purity. Purity means “clean, clear, unadulterated, unpolluted”. The psalmist is reaching higher and deeper than mere sexual or moral purity. He wants unadulterated relationship with the Father. All discussion of sexual or moral purity flows from this relationship. We, however, are contaminated by sin in our very natures. The Psalmist recognizes this important truth in himself. The Psalmist asks, “How can I stay in this relationship with you, my Father, and not grieve you? I can’t be pure on my own!“
- The Word. Christ IS the expressed Word of God! “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. We have beheld his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father full of grace and Truth!” (John 1:14). Though he appeared in human form and performed miracles in easy sight, the people were still blind to who he is (John 1:9-11). We are still blind today; we see only with eyes of faith. Jesus said, “I and the Father are ONE” and the same (John 10:30). “Before Abraham was, I Am“, Jesus exclaimed (John 8:48-59). This is the claim of the historical Jesus. The psalmist’s answer, he says, is not in legalistic following of Biblical rules; it is in relationship with the God of the Word, now come to us in the person of Jesus Christ, our Savior!
I don’t want to be intellectually or emotionally deceived. I fear it. I can withstand a lot of rough treatment in this life, but I will die a thousand deaths if I am deceived. Who wants to be betrayed? Who wants to be the betrayer?
Our sin natures have sealed our fate as breakers of God’s spiritual laws. We are already betrayers of the living God, but for Jesus’ death on the cross that redeems us. His Resurrecting power over the enemy gives believers the power to live life in obedience to His commands. Our obedience, then, is a result of our faith, not the cause of it.
The Hebrew literally says, “How can a young man GUARD his path of purity?” Along the way, even our best intentions are going to be tested. Contaminants are everywhere in the forms of pride, lust, greed, hatred, despair, carelessness, apathy, etc. Even good things, like trying to be Biblically accurate, can become stumbling blocks to sitting at Christ’s feet in adoration and soul worship. The pathogens of our heart are at the root of all social ills and live in every one of us, believers as well as unbelievers. We don’t just need our Bibles, we need the Christ of our bibles!
Beth is a prayer of faith TO GOD
The psalmist has done something very important: He has turned toward God. In doing so, he has directed his question to God in faith that God is the ultimate answer. His question is rhetorical; the psalmist knows his answer lies in the Person of God, not a creed.
The Psalmist had only God’s written word that promised a Savior, but we have the Savior! Christ Himself will keep us in fellowship with Him through the ministry of His Holy Spirit. It is important to read “Christ” when we read “the Word”. The scriptures testify of him. Therefore, the psalmist says, look to the Word/Christ and we shall not be deceived!
Because we are fallible creatures, we doubt and “kick against the goads”; yet Christ guides us back to restoration through His power and His Word, because the cross of Christ is not a one-time gift, but a daily one. That is so only if we daily come to Him to receive His Power and His Word. His Spirit seals us for that day of completion when He will come again and receive us and deliver us from this body of death (Ephesians 1; Romans 7:24-25; Revelation 22:20). Being “sealed” means that God will undertake for us to guide us and see us through our doubts and bring us to the finish line of our faith as we turn to Him in faith.
There is one more component here: My Response. By turning to God, the psalmist had already chosen that the answer would be authoritative. If the answer is Christ and His Word, then “I will seek Him with ALL my heart“. This makes sense.
This depth of intention is phenomenal. It is not ordinary. One can’t be casual about seeking after God. Anyone who is serious about finding God and remaining with Him is not looking for her next meal on a half-full stomach. She’s hungering and thirsting, and if she doesn’t receive the Lord’s sustenance, she (or he) will die. That is the difference.
Only now can we talk about reading our bibles and praying. Studying and obeying God’s Word is not a matter of rule-keeping in order to win favor with God or groups of mankind. Doing so is an act of adoration and worship. It is an act of love and faith. We fail at this miserably, but He calls us forward and we hear His voice again and follow on (John 10).
“Hiding” God’s Word
The psalmist has sealed his prayer: God is Sovereign. “Therefore, He is everything to me.” That is what the psalmist means when he says he will look for God with all his heart.
To “hide” God’s word in my heart means I have applied God’s Word in my heart, so that I do not forget God and lose my way. Doing seals in memory. Each moment of every day, am I living my thoughts out in either in obedience to God or by neglect of Him. I will act on my thoughts, whether righteous or unrighteous, obedient or disobedient. What I remember depends on what I think and do habitually by intent.
God and the Psalmist desire integrity in the inmost parts. The psalmist leads us by example to subject our very thoughts to God’s Word. Then we won’t have to worry about our betraying God or man. We will be people of integrity and our faith need not be shaken.
How can a young man stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Lord, I am aware of my failed and polluted nature and it grieves me. Be merciful to me, a sinner. Help me turn from my despotic, selfishness or I will not have the power to do so. Guard me from falling away from you in disobedience. I will continually search for you with all that I am, all that I own, all that I love. Guide me, Jesus, through your Word and through your own Power, as I live out your commands willingly and with full comprehension of the cost. My renewed desire is to honor Your Name in all that I think and do and say. In Your blessed Name I pray, Jesus. Amen.
Footnotes: “A Side Story of a Spiritual Defection”
 Recently in the news, a famous young pastor, Joshua Harris, declared that he has rejected the tenets of his former understanding of Christianity. He has “deconstructed”, or in Biblical terms, “fallen away”. This one man’s difficult public journey to find truth should not alarm believers in Christ, nor should unbelievers hostile to our faith gloat with glee. This is a good thing! God is assisting Harris in his quest for integrity by “deconstructing”—not Christ and Christianity,—but Harris’s false notions about both. Harris’s doubt and turmoil actually shows us in a public light that the scriptures are authentic!
The psalmist in Beth is seeking to know the essentials of his faith, and how to walk wisely so that he is not turned to the left or to the right and thus fall away. The psalmist is not afraid that he will lose his salvation once he has received it, but he is afraid that he may stumble and cause others to stumble. There is even still a horror at living a life devoid of knowing God intimately, even if for periods of doubt.
The psalmist is pointed Godward, however, not away from God. This is how we know he is a true believer. This is how we know he will find the answers he seeks.
If God’s Word was “created” by human mind, it would seem that doubt would not make such a high profile in scriptures. Adherents would be confident and never show that they have serious doubts about reality and truth.
But God’s Word is real and allows for us to recognize the fallibility of our minds. God comforts us in our fears, and calls us up out of the drift of doubt and INTO the confidence of our faith. That is, if we turn to Him with our doubts and fears!
The sadness in Harris’s case is not that he doubts, or that he has expressed a temporary “reset” in his quest to know more. The sadness in Harris’s case is that he has SAID that he has turned away from God in his quest. Therefore, he has only the winds to answer him. That is truly tragic, at least for this period of time for him.
My prayer for Harris (and all those like him) is that as he stood publicly in blind obedience to his “culture of faith” instead of Christ Himself, and as he denied Christ publicly in his “deconstruction”, may he turn yet again to the one true God of the Holy Bible with his questions and find again his “True North” in Christ His Savior. The scriptures give us every hope that he will indeed find Christ, if he searches for Christ the Person with all his confessing and repenting heart.
I am keeping this man in prayer as a representative of all who are doubting and wrestling with their faith or unbelief. Judas turned away from Christ and received within himself the eternal isolation from a forgiving Lord. Peter also denied knowing Christ until he met Christ on new terms post-betrayal. That is because Peter never gave up hope that Christ is who He said He is, and that the promise, he knew, carries forgiveness and grace for all. Peter was indeed restored to a NEW, solid relationship with Christ on Christ’s terms instead of Peter’s. And God loved Peter and used him mightily to do a “world” of good. Peter died full of faith; he finished well just as the Lord promised. You and I can, too.
God is not finished in Harris’s story. Praise God, He’s not finished in mine either!
© August 2019, http://www.ReadPsalm119.com.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered by Biblica, Inc.®