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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

January 07 2024

Sunday, January 07

Take Time to Be Holy


Psalm 119:9-16


9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

12 Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes!

13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.

16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.


Psalm 119:9-16 is the second stanza in this longest chapter in the Bible. In the Hebrew Bible every line or verse in it begins with the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet as an aid to memorizing it. This anonymous psalmist was determined with his whole heart to be holy and fulfill the commandment in the law that he must have read repeatedly in Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8. “You shall therefore be holy, for I Am holy”.


The writer closed the first section determined to keep the law of the Lord (v. 8), a promise he repeated in verse 145. He began this section like a true Jewish teacher by asking a question of the young men he was instructing: "How can we fulfill this promise?" He also promised to meditate on the Word (vv. 15, 48, 78), to delight in the Word and not forget it (vv. 16, 47, 93), and to run in the way of the Lord (v. 32). But he knew that it is easier to make promises than to keep them, a lesson Paul learned when he tried in his own strength to obey God's law (Rom. 7:14-25). Paul learned, as we must also learn, that the indwelling Holy Spirit enables the child of God to fulfill God's righteousness in daily life (Rom. 8:1-11). We must live according to God's Word, which means cultivating a heart for God. Paul called this "seeking the things that are above" (Col. 3:1).


We need a heart that seeks God, for if our heart is seeking God, our feet will not stray from God (v. 10; Prov. 4:23). Such a heart will see Him in all of life, learn more about Him, fellowship with Him, and glorify Him in all that is said and done. Again, the Holy Spirit enables us to do this as we yield to Him. But we must also spend time in the Word and treasure it in our hearts (v. 11; Job 23:12; Prov. 2:1; 7:1). It is not our promises to the Lord but His promises to us that will give us victory over sin.


We also need a thankful heart and a teachable spirit that will enable us to learn from the Lord (vv. 12, 108, 171). A. W. Tozer used to warn against being "man taught" instead of "God taught" (v. 102). The Lord has given teachers to His church, and we should heed them. But unless the truth we hear moves from the head (and the notebook) into the heart, written there by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:1-3), and then to the will, we have not really learned the Word or been blessed by it. The blessing comes, not in hearing the Word but in doing it (James 1:22-25).


We should also speak with others about the Word (v. 13) and seek to enrich them with spiritual treasures. The heart is a treasury from which we draw spiritual wealth to encourage and help ourselves and others (Matt. 12:35; 13:51-52). The Scriptures as riches is a repeated theme in 119 (vv. 14, 72, 127, 162; see 19:10). To treasure any possession above the Word of God is idolatry and leads to trouble. Consider Lot (Gen. 13, 18-19), Achan (Josh. 6-7), King Saul (1 Sam. 15), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). On the positive side, consider Abraham (Gen. 14:18-24), Moses (Heb. 11:24-27), Mary of Bethany (Mark 14:3-9), and Paul (Phil. 3:1-11).


Whatever delights us will capture our attention and we will think about it and meditate on it. This is true of God's Word. In this psalm, delighting in the Word, loving the Word, and meditating on the Word are found together (vv. 15-16, 23-24, 47-48, 77-78, 97-99), and they should be found together in our hearts and lives. We must take time to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16)


God bless!

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