When I stepped away from God in my teenage years, I kept telling myself, When I get older, I’ll set my life straight. I just want to have some fun, and God will forgive me later. I need to “let it out” while I’m young.
I constantly heard the Holy Spirit telling me, warning me, convicting me, I was on the wrong path. Unfortunately, I told this to myself enough that I became calloused to His voice. It wasn’t until I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually unstable when I thought, enough is enough, I need to change! I was about a month away from turning 17 when I started making cold-turkey decisions. I wanted to make things right with God, my family, and find out who my genuine friends were.
When we’re young, time passes by a lot slower, making it appear we have all the time in the world to “come back to God.” But the fallen world will do what it knows best: entice us into the ways of evil and sin no matter our age. In Psalm 119:9-16, the psalmist is very aware of this. He/she realizes that the world will attract young people foremost, because they’re on the frontline of setting a foundation for their life and the lives of others.
There are many meanings or analogies used for the letter “Beth” (the second section of Psalm 119), but two of my favorites are house and understanding. Just like a house goes through a building process, so do we. The ground is opened up in our childhood, the foundations are laid, and our framework is built in our youth, etc. But despite what our youth looks or looked like, we can get wisdom and understanding from the Word of God, which is ultimately what continues to change us.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.Psalm 119:9
When I finally repented and recommitted my life to Jesus, my first question was, what can I do now to stay on the right path? How can I keep my way pure? Word, or Dabar, in this verse means God’s direct or spoken word. The answer is straightforward; that, in order for anyone to keep their way of life pure, we must keep it according to God’s direct word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
It’s like learning how to maintain your new home when you move out of your parents’ house. It’s on you to do your laundry, dishes, and vacuum. It’s your responsibility to take the trash out and so forth. Likewise, it’s on us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2), it’s on us to clean up our attitudes when they go south. Repenting and believing in Jesus is what changes us, but to grow in our transformation and become more like Jesus, we need to continue to learn the Bible.
10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.Psalm 119:10-11
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
As a teenager, I didn’t treasure God’s Word. I knew the value of it, but I didn’t treasure it. I sought and treasured what the world offered me at the moment. I treasured myself above God, and that led me into trouble. What we seek and pursue in life is what we treasure (Matthew 6:21).
When we seek and treasure Him and His Word, it becomes our desire to keep His commandments, and we no longer want to sin against Him. It’s no longer a duty, or religious protocol, but a passion to deepen our relationship with God.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes.Psalm 119:12
In order for us to grow in any relationship, we need to be willing to learn. The definition of the word statutes, or huqqim, is an enactment, something prescribed or due. The word enactment means the process of acting something out. Verse 12 is a realized prayer that God is someone to learn from, and by asking Him to teach us His statutes, we’re willing to learn how to act out His ways here on earth.
It takes humility to learn. The Psalmist recognizes the importance of being teachable because our flesh is at war with our spirit (Galatians 5:17). And if we want to live life to the fullest, we must deny our temporary flesh and grow in what’s eternal (Galatians 5:24). We do this by first keeping God’s Word, then seeking and treasuring Him and His Word, and finally being willing to learn how to live out His word. We then begin to reflect Him in every area of life.
13 With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth.Psalm 119:13-16
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
These last 4 verses are declaratory as the Psalmist emphasizes on the fact that keeping our ways pure, treasuring and seeking God and His Word, and asking to be taught, is a delight in life. It leads to sharing your story with others and rejoicing in God’s ways (even if there are trials). Many people think we need to “get it out of our system” when we’re young, like I did. But God wants to spare us from the bondage of sin by teaching us to keep His Word from a young age, to build the foundations of our spiritual house on Christ.
When we realize who we are in Christ, our standards in life change. It’s no longer about our creature comforts and fleshly passions or temporary desires, nor is it about being better than everyone else through self-righteousness. But this doesn’t mean it eliminates FUN. I can attest that since my recommitment to God, I’ve been on an ongoing adventure unlike ever before!
The Word of God seeps into our innermost parts to change the things of old, and takes us out of bondage. Sin may be fun temporarily, but only God can take away the baggage and weight it brings on you. Jesus changed us at salvation and continues to change us for our sake. His love for you is so intense that He came on earth, experienced the temptations we face every day, died and rose from the dead, to free you from slavery to sin.
As a new creation, we can live a life free from sin, and the directions are simple: know, keep, seek, and treasure God and His Word. The answers to life are in there!