How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Psalm 119:9 (ESV)
In ancient times sheepfolds were built into which sheep were herded at night to keep them safe from predators. Many of the sheepfolds were built of rock and had a hedge of thorns around the top of the wall. This may have been what the psalmist had in mind when he penned Psalms 119:9. The word guarding in this verse means to hedge about with thorns. So, we keep our way pure by building a hedge of thorns around it according to God’s word.
The same psalmist wrote, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV) Stored up in this verse means to hide, hoard or keep in reserve. We store up God’s word by meditating, memorizing and applying it to our lives so that we have it ready to be used in times of temptation. God’s word is a guide that gives light to our ways. As the psalmist said, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV) God has provided a way for us to endure every temptation and keep our way pure; his written word, the bible.
Like the psalmist we must meditate on God’s precepts, fix our eyes on his ways, delight in his statutes, and not forget his word (Psalm 119:15-16). We must rejoice at God’s word like we have found a great treasure (Psalm 119:162).
Jesus used the word of God to fend off temptation when Satan confronted him in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). It seems that the word of God is not only a defensive weapon against the enemy, but also an offensive weapon. Paul admonished the Ephesian church to put on the whole armor of God that included the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:12-17).
We have been commanded to abstain from all forms of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to flee youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22). God has given us everything we need to fulfill these commands and keep our way pure (2 Peter 1:3). Our lives are sustained by his word (Deuteronomy 8:3).
In addition to the hedge of thorns that served as a deterrent to predators, the shepherd kept guard at the door of the sheepfold. Paul wrote, But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV) With God guarding us victory is certain.
Are you daily meditating, memorizing and applying God’s word to your life? Do you use God’s word in times of temptation?
Scriptures for meditation:
Psalm 1:1-2; 119:133