Keeping our paths pure

Posted Apr 24, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Psalm 119:9-11

9 How can young people keep their paths pure?
    By guarding them according to what you’ve said.
10 I have sought you with all my heart.
    Don’t let me stray from any of your commandments!
11 I keep your word close, in my heart,
    so that I won’t sin against you.

Reflection Questions

Psalm 119 may be best known to casual Bible readers as “the longest chapter in the Bible” (it is 176 verses long). But the psalm is not a novelty—it’s a record of a profound spiritual struggle, which speaks to people of all ages. Pastor Donald Williams wrote, “The psalmist is also engaged in a battle with himself. Thus he has shame (v. 6), is in danger of wandering (v. 10), and is vulnerable to sin (v. 11). His soul clings to the dust (v. 25); he has heaviness (v. 28), is vulnerable to lying (v. 29) and covetousness (v. 36), and has gone astray (vv. 67, 176). His soul faints (v. 81), he cries for help (v. 147), and he needs deliverance.”*

  • The psalmist showed what a serious undertaking it was to keep his paths pure, writing “I have sought you with all my heart.” Do you have a sense of recognition of any of the issues the psalmist wrote about, as listed in the summary above? When have you found that seeking God and God’s ways with all your heart made a positive difference in your life, instead of robbing you of joy or love?
  • “I keep your word close, in my heart,” the psalmist wrote. “The verb…means ‘store up, treasure, hide away’; here it may mean to memorize the Law.”** What does it take to move the word from the printed page (or the screen) into your heart? Try the psalmist’s approach: choose a short Bible passage (e.g. John 3:16, Psalm 23, maybe Psalm 119:11 from today’s reading) and commit it to memory this week.


Dear God, I want to whole-heartedly set my feet on the path of life, the path on which I live out your principles. I know I can’t do that in my own strength, and I ask you to empower me to live a pure life. Amen.

* Donald Williams, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 14: Psalms 73–150. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, p. 343.

** Robert G. Bratcher and William D. Reyburn, A Handbook on the Book of Psalms. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991, p. 1000.

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Angie Colina McNeil

Angie Colina McNeil

Angie serves as a Pastoral Intern in Congregational Care. Her days consist of visiting hospitalized individuals, caring for Silver Link Ministry members and assisting during the 11 am worship service. She is currently attending seminary at Saint Paul School of Theology, but her main roles are wife to an amazingly supportive husband, Toph, and mom to the sweetest little girl on the planet!

In my late teens and early twenties, I believed that Christianity was judgmental and restrictive. I felt that it was not relevant to what it means to be a young adult. For me, a life in Christ meant that I would have to relinquish a fun life. When I pierced my eyebrow at nineteen years old, I walked boldly into my grandparents' church to see what kind of reaction I would receive. It was mixed, but my focus landed on those who wanted to judge. On top of that I took a logic class in college, and I decided logically that God did not exist. From that point I decided to officially leave the church to live the life I wanted, according to my rules.

At first life was great! It was fun and exciting! However, fun, without boundaries or accountability to another, can become more restrictive than the negative glances I would experience at my grandparents' church. Over the course of several years, I became directionless. When my job or my relationships ended, I would change course immediately to try to figure out what would really make me happy. Nothing really ever did.

During the summer of 2007, I visited Cairo, Egypt. I was once again at a divergent road, trying to figure out which way I was going to direct my life. I had always told myself, if God wants me to believe, then God will make God’s self known to me. And boy, did God ever do exactly that! In July of that summer, a group of girls that I had met in Egypt and I decided to take camel rides out by the pyramids to watch the sun set. As the sun dipped behind the horizon, the minarets of Cairo came to life with the Muslim call to prayer. As I looked back over the city, I was overcome by the presence of God. It was a palpable and radiating sensation. In that moment I looked to the west, and I knew. While I had been trying to figure out how to make something big of my life, I knew in an instant that I was already a part of something bigger than myself. I knew in that moment that I was a part of God’s story, and that my life actually had a purpose.  

As I returned to Kansas City later that summer, I began attending church again with my grandparents, and within a year I was reading Scriptures during Sunday morning services. Within a few years of getting to know God, my life became much more free than it had been. As a broken human, I do stray from God’s commandments often, but just as the psalmist proclaimed in this passage, I know that by guarding God’s words close to my heart, I have a greater ability to live into the abundance of life that has been offered to me (and you too!) through Jesus Christ. We often get it wrong, but God’s law does not restrict--it frees.

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