9 How shall a young (wo)man cleanse his(her) way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought Thee; O let me not wander from Thy commandments!
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.
12 Blessed art Thou, O LORD; teach me Thy statutes.
13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of Thy mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Thy precepts and attend unto Thy ways.
16 I will delight myself in Thy statutes; I will not forget Thy word.
Psalm 119:9-16 (kjv)
Today’s lesson was on meditation of God’s word. Donna Partow’s message today was to go a step further and deeper than mere memorization of verses.
For me, just the verses were enough to emphasize the importance of spending a true time investment into the Word of God. Not just marking time, but quality time.
Now “heed” is a word that is old fashioned and awkward to many. I happened to have read a lot of “old fashioned” classics once upon a time, so I’m quite comfortable with the word. But even reading it today, I realized that I was not sure exactly what it meant. So, looking it up at Dictionary.com, I found that here we are being told to take “careful attention, notice, or observation” to God’s word. Will a couple of synonyms help you create a mental picture? How about “observe, consider, mark, consideration, care, caution, vigilance, or watchfulness”? In literature, I’ve noticed that “take heed” is used often like “Watch Out!” or “Pay attention” might be used today. So I really like how the concepts of “caution” or “vigilance” fit in as part of my mental picture of these verses.
And how do we do this meditation? These verses tell us almost exactly what to do:
- Take heed.
- Seek with whole heart.
- Do not wander from commandments.
- Hide God’s word in your heart.
- Declare with your lips.
- Attend to God’s ways.
- Delight in God’s statutes.
- Don’t forget God’s Word.
See, nowhere does it mention rote memorization, flash cards, or writing everything fifteen times on a piece of paper till you can repeat it perfectly!
First, I like to look at the same set of verses in many different translations. I feel this gives me a better feel for exactly what is going on and what God is trying to say to me through these verses. Bible.com makes this very quick and easy.
For example, let’s look at the same verses above in different translations.
How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. Psalm 119:9-16 (The Message)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes.
13With my lips I have told of All the ordinances 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 regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. Psalm 119:9-16 (nasb)
See how even though they are all very similar, there are very subtle wording differences? Some make one line easier to understand, or perhaps opens your eyes to a different view. I have seen verse 9 (using the word “pure” like in NASB) as a specific example for sexual purity. However, I like the other verses that show there is a much larger connotation in this particular context of “living a clean life” (as in The Message) which can relate to all of us, and also show that these verses have a wider meaning than just sexual purity.
I chose to begin with the King James Version today, because of the mental picture of “cleansing my way” through the Word of God. What that says to me is a) it’s just like a bath, something you need to do every day. Cleansing is a constant, continual thing. And b) The Word of God has the power to clean us and purify us.
Secondly, I like to look up certain words. Dictionary.com is a very handy resource that I use when I don’t understand something, or like today, when I want to confirm a word means what I think it means. And it can be useful to deal with those “church-isms” that are thrown about like candy, but no one really ever truly explains or defines, such as Precepts and Statutes. I do this to make sure I can’t gloss over even one single word and that I mine every single morsel of understanding that I can from these verses.
I’ve found that studying with this sometimes intense method helps me to truly “relish” and “delight” the juiciness found from feeding on the Word of God.