The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     Children often sing, “The B-I-B-L-E, now that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” The theme of Psalm 119 is the word of God. The psalmist highlights the theme and importance of God’s word by employing a different synonym (“law,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “word,” etc.) for God’s “word” in each verse of this longest of psalms.
     God’s word provides instructions for daily living and serves as a guide to doing His will. Thus, when the psalmist offered the question in verse 9, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” the answer given is “By living according to your word.”  Perhaps a follow-up question might be “How can we keep our way according to the Word of God?” Three exercises provided in verses 9-16 that address this follow-up question include:

Placing Value on the Word of God

     You and I place value on the word of God when we Memorize scripture. The psalmist declared “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV, v. 11). The New American Standard version states, “Thy word have I treasured in my heart that I may not sin against thee.”
     When is the last time you placed value on the Word of God by memorizing a portion of scripture? What is your excuse? Do you think that memorization is too strenuous mentally? Well, according to the American Medical Association, standing doubles the energy requirements from simply sitting up in bed while chopping wood increases one’s energy needs nearly 8 times beyond just standing. Heavy thinking (memorization), however, requires very little energy!
     Several years ago, my daughter participated in a discipleship group comprised of 6th-grade girls and led by my wife. One Sunday evening the girls began talking about how worried and afraid they had been earlier in the week when a tornado had passed not far from their school. When my wife asked them to describe their feelings and emotions while huddled out in the corridor at school, my daughter blurted out “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee, Psalm 56:3.” She had memorized this verse the previous year in Bible Drill and recalled the truth of God’s word in the midst of a scary situation.    
     You and I can place value on the word of God not only by memorizing scripture, but also by Meditating on the Word of God. The psalmist asserted “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (v. 15). The grammatical construction of this verse expresses strong desire or intent on the part of the one performing the action. In Psalm 1, the blessed person “delights in the law of the Lord and on this law meditates day and night.” We often refer to meditating on God’s word our daily devotional or quiet time.

     Kevin Peacock was a college classmate of mine and he serves as a professor of Old Testament at the Canadian Baptist Seminary. Regarding the importance of Bible study, Dr. Peacock says that his “banjo only has one string and that string plays Bible study.” You and I can keep our way according to the word of God by placing value on His word but also by…

Proclaiming the Word of God    

     In verse 13, the psalmist focused on his Verbal testimony when he stated “With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.” The language of the text suggests intensive action. In other words, one’s verbal testimony is not a weak-kneed, watered-down testimony but a bold, vibrant, excited proclamation of the Word of God. In the words of an old song, “I’ll shout it from the mountaintops, I want my world to know, the Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on!”
     Proclamation of the word of God also comes through one’s Visible testimony. The psalmist noted his joy in following the word of God (v. 14). The Word of God was not a burden to the psalmist but a joy. Obedience to God’s word leads to happiness which should be obvious to the world in a visible manner. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was emphasizing to his class the importance of making facial expression harmonize with one’s speech. He said, “When you speak of Heaven and your salvation, let your face light up, let it radiate with a heavenly gleam, let your eyes shine with reflected glory!” Spurgeon then continued, “But, when you speak of Hell and damnation…well, then your ordinary face will do.”

     In addition to living according to the word of God by placing value on and proclaiming God’s word, you and I can keep our way according to the word of God by…

Practicing the Word of God

     Athletes, musicians, and others understand the importance of committed and consistent practice in order to achieve significant improvement their respective field. The psalmist’s recognized the importance of regular engagement with God’s instructions for holy living as indicated with “I will not neglect (forget) your word” (v. 16). The word translated “neglect” or “forget” is more than just a lapse of memory but is actually describing a lack of action.    
     What in God’s Word should be practiced daily? A short list that will advance you and me a long way could include:
  • Practice loving your neighbor as self;
  • Practice love that is patient and kind, never boastful or proud. Love that is not rude or self-seeking, being not easily angered. Practice love that keeps no record of wrongs.
  • Practice helping those in need, regardless of the nature of such need whether physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. Jesus said, “Whatsoever you have done unto the least of these my brethren, you do also unto me.”
  • Remember to “be kind one to another, tender-hearted forgiving one another….”
  • Practice living with “no other gods” before the one true and living God;
  • Practice trusting in the Lord with all your heart;
  • Practice hiding God’s word in your heart;
  • Practice being anxious for nothing but in everything through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
  • Practice making disciples and teaching them everything that Jesus instructed;

     The old saying suggests that “practice makes perfect.” Practicing the Word of God brings us closer to perfection as we learn more about God and thus become more like Him. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to the Word of God.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the B-I-B-L-E. May I live each day with your word as a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path as I hide your word in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.