“Laying up God’s Word in our Hearts!”
How well do you know your ABC’s?
In the Psalms, the 119th chapter is not only the longest but a TOOL historians claim to be used by King David to teach his young son Solomon the Hebrew alphabet.
There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. There are 22 stanzas (paragraphs) in the 119th chapter. Each stanza begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. What a creative & artistic person Daddy David was! (אַבָּא)
Yet deep within the chapter lies a greater wisdom for us each to discover, the wisdom of PURITY—and how it might be obtained.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to thy word.
11 I have laid up thy word in my heart,
that I might not sin against thee.
(Ps. 119:9,11, RSV)
Though written with his son in mind, this Psalm might be written for almost any person really--young or old. The battle for purity is not limited to gender, age or any other divide we would create or adhere to.
According to our good friend WEBSTER, to be PURE means to be “unmixed with any other matter…spotless or stainless…free from harshness or roughness and being in tune —used of a musical tone.” Webster then goes on to say, purity means to be “free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes…free from moral fault or guilt.”
I’m a pretty smart guy and I love the Word of God, but verse memorization has never been my strongpoint. Typically, I remember by association or situation, giving the gist of the Scriptures’ text and relying on showing visibly the text of the Word of Truth as my authority. But, when I first gave my life to Christ, moving from a life that was anything but pure, to a new life in Christ that I desired to be everything He wanted me to be, especially to be obedient & pure, I knew I would need an arsenal and an army that would help me.
The army that drew alongside me was the church, believers of all ages, some attending my church and others not—that great “cloud of witnesses” of the past, present and future. And my arsenal was the Word of God.
Somewhere soon after giving my life to Christ, I was invited to be a part of a Navigators Memory Bible Study. The study’s goal was not only to expose me to Christian thought and some of the basics in the Christian faith, but to commit to memory God’s word that would be practical for living out this new life in Christ. This wisdom has existed since the time of King David, and probably much earlier because of oral tradition. One of the first verses I memorized, well next to John 3:16 when I was seven years old, was Psalm 119:9 & 11.
David asks a practical question, as pertinent today as it was 1000’s of years ago, “how can a young person” (NLT), or anyone for that matter, keep their way pure?
Look at the world around us, around our children! Look at what’s in the news, on TV, in music, on the movie screen & video games, not to mention around the school yard & hallways—from student to teachers to coaches to employers to even us as parents & adults. The assault is on, and it comes in every form—visually, orally--you name it. The assault is on the mind with the hope to conquer the heart. For where our heart is so lies its desires.
It’s a HUGE question and praise God David passes onto his son, and to US, a real help and truth to this life question. As David pens this Psalm to be used by his son to enjoy and to learn, David plants little trues & helps along the way for Solomon to discover. And not just the Hebrew ABC’s, but David places a question along with an answer he has found to be true in his own life: “11 I have laid up Thy word (God’s) in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
When I was “young and dumb”, learning APPLE COMPUTER LANGUAGE (yes, THAT young!), I was taught a simple formulation, “garbage in, garbage out.” Though I remember it because of Apple, it’s a wisdom that pre-exists Apple (and me for that matter) and continues yet today. As we feed our minds…our bodies…our souls…we should NOT be surprised by what we get as an end product. When we invest in gluttony, sin, greed, filth, violence and any other action or way of life counselled against by God, what other end do we expect but that which we invest?
But at an early age, David counseled Solomon where the real investment is, that investment that will lead to the purity that God desires in the each of us but can only happen with the right ingredients in our lives—our hearts.
We can call it many things but there is a clear connection between our eyes, minds & heart, our lives, obedience and desire to be pleasing to God out of spirits of gratitude for all He does in our lives.
Purity. How can we have it? By investing in the Word of God, to be real treasure in our hearts, that we might be pure & blameless in His sight.
God’s Word. Start reading it. Start memorizing it. Start singing it. Start investing in it. In so doing we will discover God’s heart is ours, and our desire is His.
Be people of the Word. Lay it up in your heart daily. Draw on it for protection, and for life for others.
Have a great day!