Part II: But seriously, HOW? Psalm 119:9-16


How can a young man keep his way pure?

The answer to this important question is given in the second part of the verse

“… by keeping your word.” (Christian Standard Bible)

The Bible answers every question that is vitally important to us in this life and the life to come. Some people think the Bible is not relevant to the realities of today. For the psalmist, it was perfect in its instruction and application, even so for Jesus; we must remember that the Old Testament was His Bible. The Psalmist, who was deeply concerned about personal purity, was asking, ‘What is the secret to personal, practical holiness?’

All throughout scripture we read about the importance of personal purity and holiness, something that many of us lack. This should leave us desperately asking, ‘HOW?’

Let us consider this:

THE QUESTION THAT IS ASKED.                                                                                                   

“How can a young man keep his way pure?”

Observe three things:

1. It is a simple question. There is nothing ambiguous or difficult about it; it means exactly what it says. Here is a young man, with a sinful heart, an offensive life, impure thoughts, dirty habits, unwholesome language, his reading matter is despicable, and his relationships are dishonest. –

How can this young man become clean? That is a simple question. Read Mark 1:40-41.

Whether young or old, we know that the question touches our deepest need.

2. It is a significant question. This is the paramount question we need to ask. There are other important questions, especially for young men and women, questions regarding education, career, success, marriage, security, but none of these come close to the question of how do we keep our lives and heart pure before the Lord.

3. It is a functional question. It calls for action because it is not just a theoretical question. Psalm 119 is not simply beautiful poetry but the inspired testimony of a man who knew his deep need of cleansing and who also knew how that need could be met.

This great question contains an admission of need, a confession of desire and a suggestion of urgency.


How can my heart and life be kept pure?

“… by keeping your word.”

If we take a deeper look at this phrase, we will see there are two things the psalmist calls us to do:

1.     Pause what we are doing and give careful thought to our ways (Haggai 1:7).

2.     Apply the answer the psalmist gives us. This simply means, take the Bible and apply it to every part of our lives and conduct. That is how we keep our ways pure and holy.

This sounds too simple. What does this ‘practically’ look like?

Psalm 119:10-16 gives us the details.

Verse 10 tells us to search our Bible and be ready to obey all that God commands. We will experience cleansing upon the reading and by obeying Gods word. John 15:3

Verse 11 tells us to let God’s word enter right us. Not only does it have the power to cleanse us but also it’s our source of provision for life. Proverbs 4:23

Verse 12 informs us to be humble and teachable. In doing so, we will find rest for our souls. Matthew 11:29

Verse 13 says we are to declare the truth of God’s word in our daily rhythms of life where we live, work and play.

Verse 14 commands us to rejoice in God’s word and treasure it above everything else. So even on our worst days, we can rejoice in His word because it endures forever. It will not return to us void. 1 Peter 1:25

Verse 15 instructs us to study and meditate on God’s word. Allowing Gods word to marinate in our hearts and minds ensuring that our lives are a sweet fragrance to the Lord.

Finally, verse 16 says we are to make God’s word the resolution of our lives. To never forget God’s word whatever the situation or circumstance.

It sounds like the psalmist is throwing a challenge to all of us, "You live your compromising, impure life that thinks it knows pleasure and satisfaction; I will cleanse my way and give the fullness of my life to God and His word, and we will see who will be more blessed, more joyful, and more filled with life."

Reflection –

·      Do you incorporate Gods word into your daily rhythms of life? (Prayer, speech, decisions, sharing of your faith etc.)

·      How much of God’s word have you treasured in your heart? (Scripture memory)

·      How can you build regular patterns of reading Gods word, both personally and with others?


Lord, help me not to lean on my own understanding but in everything acknowledge you so that you can direct my words, thoughts and actions. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Jolindi van der Merwe