How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
After closing the first stanza with a plea for mercy, the Psalmist begins the second stanza of Psalm 119 with a question which reveals where his true concern lies. The way of life, especially for a young man, can be difficult to perceive. Fraught with pitfalls and dangers, temptations and snares, the path of one’s life is a mystery to the young, while many aged look back on their path with regret. It is with great wisdom that this young man turns his focus to the only means by which a man’s way can be protected, obeying the word of the Lord.
God’s word purifies the way of the young man, prevents him from leaving the path of righteousness, and protects him from inward sin (v.9-11). In order to do these things, Scripture must be obeyed, sought after, and treasured. True devotion to God’s Word involves every aspect of our being, both internal and external, and it strengthens and protects each part. We must read it, reflect on it, and rest in it, if we hope to live without regret or remorse.
God’s word produces an almost universal response in those who receive it, bringing praise to our lips and producing joy in our hearts (v.12-14). The Bible is a divine book, revealing the very mind and heart of God to man. The Psalmist had the privilege of being taught by its Author and proclaiming God’s law with his own tongue. The incredible condescension of the Creator to speak through a mere creature brings spontaneous praise and blessing to the writer’s lips, and why not? God’s word is without compare, bringing joy unmatched by all worldly wealth and riches, and yet far too often we pursue riches and material goods only to be surprised that they provide no lasting joy or peace.
As he has begun on the path of righteousness by “taking heed according to [God’s] word,” the Psalmist concludes this stanza with a declaration of his commitment for the future (v.15-16). He has sought the LORD wholeheartedly, hidden God’s word in his heart, praised God both privately and publicly, and taken joy in following God’s commands, but his future remains unknown to all but God. There ought not be fear of the future, though, since the very God whose word is truth has ordained the steps that we take, and as we focus our thoughts on Scripture, we can be assured of the blessing that belongs to all who delight in his statutes and remember his word.