“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.”
Psalms 119:9 – 14
What is the good life? And who has the capacity to define it? Is it a can of Michelob on a camping trip? A can of Coke that somehow makes one bounce about the room? What makes something good?
Among no class of men are these questions more urgently and ardently asked than those who are young. Children and young adults are gifted by God with an appetite to have their questions answered, a desire to find and secure the good life. As they gaze out over the future, they want to know, “What will bring me joy and pleasure forevermore?”
Because this is true, Solomon meditates on this question in the Scripture that we have just read. How can a young man keep his way pure? What is more valuable than riches? Where should he find his delight?
Solomon’s repeated and steady answer to these questions is that we find purity, riches, and delight in heeding the Word of the Lord. God’s word is the foundation of all life. His revelation of Himself and explanation of the world around us, is what enables us to make sense of the world and to truly identify what the good life is all about. Finite creatures are unable to identify what is truly good for them. For how do we know, infallibly, that some trend we have jumped on today will end up bringing joy and happiness in the end?
At no time in history have the brokers of the good life been more prolific and skilled in their marketing. Whether the good life is to come through technological advances, organic foods, high protien diets, treatments for balding, or exercise machines – these peddlers never ultimately know that their recipe for the good life will not end in disaster. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death.” We are not omniscient and so we are unable, as humans, to identify the good life. The most that we can identify on our own is what brings momentary happiness or pleasure. But we can never be sure whether these momentary pleasures will bring devastating consequences in the future. One thinks of the radical reversal that has come in the last century over the issue of smoking cigarretes. Once admired as the item of the fashionable, the discovery of its ill effects has relegated it to the addictive pasttime of the down and out. How do you know that the microwave popcorn you’ve been sneaking after the kids go to bed won’t prove your undoing?
Do we then have no hope in the world? Must we live our lives in constant uncertainty, blown about by every scheme for the good life that fills the Sunday paper? Are our youth unable to answer the questions which they most hunger to know? Are we left without a sure foundation?
No – Solomon gives it to us. God has defined the good life. And because He is omniscient, He knows all the end roads, all the results of various actions. He knows that homosexuality is destructive; that sexual immorality saps one of character and strength; that life is more than what enters the belly; that humans can have no greater pleasure than when we find our satisfaction in Himself. And the glorious thing is that He has revealed all of this to us in His Word. We can know what the good life is – for the Creator of all has revealed it to us and makes life understandable and meaningful as a result.
Despite the clarity of God’s revelation, however, we often spurn His revelation. Attempting to run our lives on our own sense of what is good and right, we find ourselves repeating the sin of our First Mother who, judging for herself, saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes and desireable to eat, and so spurned the Word of God in favor of her own ideas.
Reminded of our failure to rely upon the Word of the Lord and our tendency to trust rather in our own wisdom and wit, let us kneel and confess our sins in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.