It is of utmost importance that we emphasize the truth of Scripture in these latter days. Too often the Word of God is forgotten or set aside as merely another old book that’s lost its tenor and relevance. But what’s clear here, and throughout the rest of this psalm, is the prominence that God’s Word should have for the believer in Jesus.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 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.” (Ps. 119:9-16)
You’ll notice, again, all the references to the Word of God throughout this section: “commandments,” “statutes,” “rules of your mouth,” “testimonies,” “precepts,” and “way.” This shows just how indispensable God’s Word is in the Christian life.
Endeavoring to pursue God and make a difference for his gospel without also being enamored and engaged with his Word is a futile expedition. It’s impossible to get by without it. Those who seek to claim Christ with their life and yet neglect to study the Scriptures will soon be swept off course “by every wind of doctrine.” (Eph. 2:14) God’s Word grounds you: it keeps you low by reminding you of your sin and desperation, but lifts you up as it assures you of Jesus’s grace and deliverance.
As we delve into our Bibles rightly, with Christ at the center of everything that transpires, we’ll be beckoned to fix our eyes more and more intently on all that God’s done and promised in his Word.
“To reject the Word of God is to cast away all knowledge and all hope. To accept the Word of God is to find all the answers, and to come to rest in a divine peace which passes all understanding.” (Barnhouse, 205-6)
This, therefore, is why the psalmist mentions the Word of God as the only thing that sustains a life of purity: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Ps. 119:9-10) How do we cultivate righteous, honorable living? By recalling the Word of God and promises found therein. When we’re (constantly) reminded through the Word of grace that everything we need in Christ we have, we won’t be as susceptible to take what’s not ours, nor to crave what can’t satisfy. The life of a Christian is built upon a remembrance of and delight in the gospel — it’s found entirely upon the perfect satisfaction and substitution of Christ on the cross.
“The life of the child of God [is] but a continuous experience of the truth of his Word, and the veracity of his promises.” (Winslow, Day 31)
And what does remembering and delighting in this substitution do? It prompts you to know that everything’s been bought and paid for with the blood of Christ; that Jesus has laid a sure foundation upon which we might stand and resolve to be used for the sake of and transformed by the gospel of grace. “The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not a theological information but heart and life transformation.” (Tripp, 51)
God’s Word changes you — the more you’re made to see your own depravity, and Jesus meeting you with grace in the midst thereof, fortifies new and renewed efforts in the pursuit of God. Remembrance of the Word results in people transformed by the Word. As we delight in God’s Word of grace — “the word of faith, in which Christ himself graciously condescends to be nigh to us” (Marshall, 66) — we’ll be brought near to God.
Notes & References:
Donald G. Barnhouse, Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans as a Point of Departure, Vol. 3, Part 3 (Philadelphia: The Evangelical Foundation, 1963).
Octavius Winslow, Thus Saith the Lord: Words of Divine Love (London: John F. Shaw & Co., 1872).
Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012).
Walter Marshall, The Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification (New York: Robert Carter & Bros., 1859).