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From the editor: Wherewithal (Ps 119.9-16)

J Grant

The Psalms, too often neglected, are rich in teaching that is of great benefit to those who read them. The Hebrew title is "The Book of Praises", and the book is divided into five sections, each of which ends with a doxology. The psalms differ in character. Some of them are songs, some are prayer, some are "Maschil" psalms which are psalms of instruction, some are "psalms of degrees" or "psalms of going up" to be sung as the people travelled to Jerusalem for the feasts. There are many other types to be found.

Psalm 119 is itself arranged in twenty-two sections, all of which yield spiritual fruit for the reader. In the decadent society of today the psalmist tells us that it is still possible for the young to live to enjoy personal dealings with the Lord. The words of the Psalm are of great value for any who seek holiness and, therefore, are an encouragement to ensure that our lives are pleasing to Him.

As we turn to the content of the second section of the psalm we note the importance of the Scriptures. The question to be found at the beginning of this section, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?", is still important today. How blessed are the young who voice the question in the presence of God. In a day when worldly pursuits can so easily become the habit of believers, how blessed are those who seek to please God in their behaviour. The requirement to take heed to the Word of God is real. "With my whole heart have I sought thee" is the cry of to be heard (v.10), and v.11 - "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" - shows the fervour of the psalmist. Note also that the Scriptures consist of commandments (v.10), which bring to the reader the authority behind the Word of God, statutes (v.12), which are unchanging demands, testimonies, which are laws with divine warrant (v.14) and which have to be observed with care. The Scriptures must not be treated lightly; they have the power of God in their writing.

What is found is certainly for the young, but also has lessons which all believers should take to heart as the other sections of the psalm show. The young man of v.1 has much to teach us. The plea that comes from the pen of the writer is that the Word of God should be hidden in our hearts. The question is, "Do we read it?". In order to make God's Word effective it is wise at the beginning of the day to read what God has written. Modern society has technology and helps that abound, means by which quick answers can be sought. In dealing with the Word of God this, on its own, is not enough. The systematic reading of and attention to God's Word is essential and cannot be bettered.

I recall many years ago a miner who stated that he took his morning reading with him and it was lodged in his mind as he laboured. I listened to a train driver who stated the same thing, so that even as he was carefully carrying out his duties he had the Scriptures lodged in the back of his mind. It may be considered by some that the demands of business today make it impossible to remember the Scriptures, but experience proves that even under the pressure of modern society they come to mind.

Believers of our era have access to the preaching of many of the past and of the present. It is possible to choose the preacher or teacher, to choose the subject, and to have access to commentators and expositors of different periods. But beware, this can be helpful but never can take the place of digging into the Scriptures consistently oneself and seeking to understand what God has given to us. There are books abounding that can assist greatly but they do not take the place of making time to read the precious Book which is a privilege to hold in our hands.

May the cry of the psalmist be on our hearts: "With my whole heart have I sought thee". This was his prime desire and may it be ours as we open His Word and seek to be pleasing before Him.


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