Wednesday of Pentecost 21 – Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.

We watched him self-destruct over many years. He was bright and articulate, the life of a party, and a dear friend. But slowly and step-by-step he made multiple poor decisions. We would rejoice with every vow to do better and sometimes things seemed to be going well. But then we would be disappointed by another descent into that self-destructive pattern. Finally, there was that night, we don’t know exactly what happened, but someone got hurt, badly. Our friend ended up in jail.

Do you know someone like this? The particulars are probably not the same, but chances are you also have a friend or a sibling or neighbor who followed a path like this. I saw my friend not too long ago. I was relieved that he had found some peace, had a job, and was putting his life back into some semblance of order. I was glad for him.

This section of Psalm 119 reminds us that God is very concerned with life, with your life. The world often casts God as a moralizing prude, someone who is only concerned about a person’s naughtiness, eager to punish the wrong doer. But that is missing a very important point. God did not want my friend to go through what he endured, the broken marriage, the broken promises, the conviction for a crime, etc. God wanted what was good for him, he wanted health and peace and joy. I am glad that Christ has died for all my friend’s sins as He has died for mine. Jesus says he will dry every tear and I look forward to that day. As I consider the many statutes and rules and ordinances which occupy the psalmist, I have come to see a path for life, for happiness, and for life.

How shall a young man keep his way pure? He could listen to God.

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