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Psalm 119:9-16 - Sacrificing a whole heart to seek God

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

9 How shall a young man cleanse his way? *

By keeping to your words.

10 With my whole heart I seek you; *

let me not stray from your commandments.

11 I treasure your promise in my heart, *

that I may not sin against you.

12 Blessed are you, O Lord; *

instruct me in your statutes.

13 With my lips will I recite *

all the judgments of your mouth.

14 I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees *

than in all manner of riches.

15 I will meditate on your commandments *

and give attention to your ways.

16 My delight is in your statutes; *

I will not forget your word.


This is an optional Psalm selection for the fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This set of verses from Psalm 119 are only available to be read on this one day. Psalm 119 is 176 verses in length, as twenty-two sets of eight verses, each set corresponding to one of the twenty-two different letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The Episcopal Church lectionary allows for eight of these sets to be sung aloud during a service, with verses 1-8 and 33-40 each sung on multiple Sundays, while fourteen sets are never sung. Verses 9-16 are the second set of eight, thereby headed under the letter “Beth” [or “Bet”]. According to the website “Hebrew4Christians,” the letter Bet is actually the first letter of that alphabet, because Aleph is silent, representing Yahweh. That makes Bet represent Creation, when the world of matter began. The site also says Bet is “the house of Creation in sacrificial love,” making this selection from Psalm 119 fit the theme of Lent.

I believe the translation of verse 9 is incorrect as it does not clearly state the intent that comes from translating “naar” as “young man.” This makes one think of a young adult, anywhere from eighteen to thirty years of age. The better way to translate that word is as “lad” or “youth” or “a boy.” (Strong’s Usage). By seeing that, verse 9 then asks the question, “What can purify a child’s life path?” The answer is then (rather than “By keeping to your words”) is “By teaching him the ways of Yahweh” [the Laws memorized, but also demonstrated].

David was taught to be pure at a very early age, by his father Jesse. Once anointed, Samuel gave him sage advice. Still, learning has to be seen as coming from external influences, thus David sang, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments.” That becomes the answer to the question posed in verse 9, as it says teach a child to love Yahweh by teaching him to seek God, by talking to God. In that way the external laws become internalized, written on the heart center, which is the soul, due to love of God.

When David sings, "I treasure your promise in my heart,” this is a statement of love. The Hebrew word “tsaphan” is translated as “treasure,” but another translation is “hidden.”

That adds another dimension to love, such that it is an inner peace that is not openly displayed, like that of young lovers caught up in the physicality of acts commonly called “love.” To treasure the love of another, especially when the other is Yahweh, means one’s soul [the “heart”] holds an unseen treasure within, through marriage to God’s Holy Spirit. It is then that inner bond of love becomes the security of true love, which is faith and trust and knowing one loves pleasing the Lord with all one’s heart, mind, and soul.

In verse 12, David names “Yahweh” specifically, rather than read the generalization of “O Lord.” To sing that Yahweh is “blessed,” as the One God, becomes an understatement for the Most High. This should then be sung form one’s own heart, as a statement about knowing oneself is “blessed” in being, by having become Yahweh in name [as “you”]. It is then that personal blessing by Yahweh that instructs the body-soul in how to act, which are the “statutes” of righteousness. It is then that state of being that is “blessed,” justifying Yahweh's presence within.

David then sings, in verse 13, about the blessing brought upon him by the presence of the Lord. He has become righteous and a prophet. Here, David sings of the sacrifice of self, so one’s own opinions become submissive to the Word of God that comes from one’s mouth. In this verse, the point is made that Yahweh does not take on a human wife [regardless of gender] because it is pretty or important among others. This state of marriage is not as if God wants the greatness of a mortal to be seen as a reflection of His greatness. This verse says God chooses to marry souls that willingly surrender to His Will, so that soul’s flesh will become the voice of God on earth, so others can be likewise saved.

Verse 14 then becomes David’s soul rejoicing because of the wealth of knowledge that flows through his body, all processed by his brain, so everything spoken by Yahweh makes sense. This is the presence of the Mind of Christ, where “Christ” says all who are married to Yahweh become His “Anointed One.” God knows all the questions the faithful pose, which have been generated by the widespread ignorance held by their religious leaders. When the Lord speaks the truth through one’s mouth, the brain possessed by a soul understands the vast capacity of knowledge the Christ Mind flows through one, which becomes filtered through a human organ for thought.

Because of this awe inspiring presence making one speak in ways others have never heard reasoned thought be expressed before – all being heard as truth and light shed on misunderstandings – the soul is then allowed to sit alone to ponder these revelations. It is this processing of the truth that one is transformed from simple believer into a prophet and saint, able to speak the truth of God to all seekers. This means contemplation expands into ministry, so others who are begging for help can be led into the same light and their own soul-sacrifice to Yahweh. A saint trusts that Yahweh will always speak the truth through one's mouth, so others can be led to the light.

In the eighth and last verse in this set that praises marriage to Yahweh, David sings, “My delight is in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” This says the ways of righteousness are a delight to a soul, such that the body of flesh feels pleasure in ways no worldly addiction can ever bring. By never forgetting the statutes of God, those words have become ingrained in the soul and can never be erased. This becomes the delight of knowing one’s soul has been saved from the death of the flesh, having gained eternal life.

As an alternate song of David possible to be sung aloud during the final Sunday in the season we call Lent, it is clear to see it as a song of praise from one’s soul having come to know the Lord through marriage. The season of Lent is recognized as a mandatory sacrifice that must be made, in order to serve Yahweh. That servitude can only come from the complete sacrifice of self-ego, so one’s soul submits totally to the Will of God, merging the soul with His Holy Spirit. This psalm makes it clear that this transformation is worthy of rejoicing. It becomes the celebration of marriage, when children join to be come adults … then parents. Lent is a reflection of that cycle of commitment.

When Lent is seen as some partial willingness to please God, it diminishes the purpose of the period set aside as sacrificial by some Christians. Lent is a willing release of one’s soul to Yahweh, allowing Him to control one’s body of flesh forevermore. It represents a marriage of permanence, where vows of promise are made between a spiritual couple that never end. To see a forty day period that recognizes this sacrifice, it should be period that celebrates a blessed event in the past, like a most holy wedding anniversary remembrance. If it is seen as a new forty-day plan, so oneself can maintain control of one’s body [not God], then the meaning of Lent has been lost.

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