November 12, 2019

How Can Young People Walk in Purity?

Psalm 119:1-11

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

—  Psalm 119:9

My first spiritual mentor insisted on Scripture memorization. The verse here was the first one I learned. The Naval Academy had trained me to memorize, from the trivial to the important. So Scripture memorization came easily. Now, after my career as a Navy chaplain, Psalm 119:9 remains for me a beloved verse.

Psalm 119 was written to be memorized in Hebrew. Even our Bibles divide the psalm as originally designed, with each stanza named for a letter of their alphabet: aleph, beth, gimel . . . —the ABC’s of Hebrew. This made learning the psalm’s 176 verses simpler. And each verse begins with that stanza’s theme letter: ­verses 1-8 begin with aleph, 9-16 begin with beth, and so on.

Psalm 119’s theme is simply “the law of the Lord.” And that’s the answer to today’s question. Young people struggle with temptations that would lead away from the Lord’s way. So do their elders, but it can be harder when you lack experience. Learning the law of the Lord lays the foundation for our lives, but obedience can seem tiring.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Faith in Christ unites us inseparably to him (Philippians 2:1; John 10:28). Psalm 119:9 asks each believer the fundamental question to which Jesus is the only answer. “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

Father, we want to keep our way pure, but we stray so easily. Thank you for grace, forgiveness, and new life in Christ. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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