Keeping the Way – Part 2

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. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. Psalm 119:9-16

Verse-by-Verse

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. Psalm 119:9

This verse is the crux of the next seven verses. It would seem David knew a thing or two about the question he was posing. And although there is disagreement about David’s exact age when he wrote this Psalm, it appears as though he is old enough to answer his own question confidently. At the very least, verses ten through sixteen show that David is not the young man in the question. 

However, he once was a young man who had learned this very lesson, and though we don’t have much information about his upbringing, we can deduce a good deal concerning his education. Through his own words, we can see how David, as a young man, obtained the knowledge he needed to keep his way pure. And though this verse is a rare occurrence of a question being asked and then immediately answered, what we are interested in is David’s epistemology (or how David knew what he knew).

We don't have a lot of info on King David's childhood BUT from his life and teaching there is a good deal we can deduce. #trainupachild Click To Tweet

What’s in a Name?

David, as you know, was the second, and greatest of Israel’s kings. An eloquent poet, he became one of the most prominent figures in human history. (Ruth 4:17, 22; 1 Samuel 16:13) His name means “beloved,” which we will return to in our final post, tomorrow. 

An unlikely hero from man’s perspective, he was the youngest son of Jesse (a man of no great rank) who lived in a town of no great importance (Bethlehem). Jesse’s name means “Jehovah exists” or “firm.” Jesse had eight sons and two daughters by different wives. 

As we connect the branches of David’s family tree, we see that his grandfather was Obed. Obed meant “worshipper” or “servant who worships,” and he was the son of Boaz and Ruth.

This brings us to that well-known character Boaz whose name means “strength” or “fleetness.” Boaz was a wealthy and honorable man from the tribe of Judah. He became the second husband of Ruth (the Moabitess) and was an ancestor of both King David and King Jesus. 

An important fact concerning Boaz is that his great-great-grandson, Solomon, named the left pillar of the Temple after him for “in it is strength” (1 Kings 7:21). You may wonder, “what does it matter?” But that’s because we don’t understand that in ancient times, naming was far more meaningful than it is today. Be it a child, a place, or a temple pillar; people didn’t simply reference a scroll and pick a popular name. Instead, they trusted tradition and listened to God.

In ancient times, naming was far more meaningful than it is today. Be it a child, a place, or a temple pillar; people didn’t simply reference a scroll and pick a popular name. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, naming was a matter of Kingdom significance. Always, it was a matter of personal significance. And what we can learn from the names of David’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather is that they were men who were faithful to YHWH and without question taught their families to walk in God’s ways.

Three faithful fathers who understood, walked out, and taught God’s word as was declared in the Scriptures. They would have lived by verses such as:

You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. – Exodus 20:5‭-‬6 NASB

Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; – Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB

The reason David knew that a young man kept his way pure by walking according to God’s word is that he had learned this truth at his father’s knee. He had been instructed by men whose very names imply their faithfulness to this very task.

Maybe you are wondering how it’s possible that these men were named at the beginning of their lives, and that those names were accurate. The answer is that even in naming, there was a prophetic element.

David knew that a young man kept his way pure by walking according to God's word is that he had learned this truth at his father’s knee. He had been instructed by men whose very names imply their faithfulness to this very task. Click To Tweet

How Does this Apply to Us?

Your name might not be as Scripturally prophetic as Boaz, Obed, Jesse, or David, BUT the Bible is very clear that our calling, as parents, is to teach our children in the way they did. Consider what the next man in their family line (consequently, a man famed for his wisdom) said:

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; – Proverbs 1:8 NASB

How can our children keep their ways pure if we do not teach them? 

Yes, the Spirit will teach. Yes, the Word of God is for personal instruction. And yes, pastors and teachers are appointed for the church’s edification. But the most fundamental office for communicating God’s truth to young men and women is a mom and a dad.

The most fundamental office for communicating God’s truth to young men and women is a mom and a dad. Click To Tweet

David’s Family Curriculum 

With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. – Psalms 119:10 NASB

From his youth, David was trained to tend his father’s sheep (a rather lowly position). He was the youngest of the family, so he wasn’t brought into public notice. But still, it pleased God to raise him from the sheep pasture to the throne of Israel. 

During his rise to royalty, David became a warrior and a champion. And his victory over Goliath made him a marked man. Although David commanded victory after victory, he never indulged in empty boasting or relied on his own power. Every step of the way, David gave all recognition and glory to God. 

David’s upbringing and experience had taught him reliance on God. Whether he was defeating a giant or staying the course and keeping God’s commandments (as verse ten says), we see that he had been taught well. Even from a young age (1 Samuel 17:33), David’s actions displayed the quality of his education.

Although David commanded victory after victory, he never indulged in empty boasting or relied on his own power. Every step of the way, David gave all recognition and glory to God. Click To Tweet

A quick note here about epistemology: epistemology is the theory of knowledge and how we gain knowledge or the method used to gain knowledge. The source of our knowledge is indeed God. He has given us His word, His Spirit, and His ministers. But all of these represent methods of gaining knowledge. 

And there are methods within these that we might overlook if we are not careful. For example, we can gain knowledge through reading, but we can also gain knowledge through listening. We can learn for ourselves, or we can be taught. We can learn in a didactic fashion (like this) or a more Socratic style (challenging with questions). 

When we explore David’s epistemology, we begin to see how he would know how to keep his way pure. He learned from his father and mother. He learned from his teachers. He learned through many ways, and so will we if we are open to it. 

How does a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to God’s word. How do we learn God’s word? Many ways. Don’t get caught up in assuming one method is superior to another. Simply be willing to learn, just as David was. (We’ll explore different ways to learn on Saturday’s post.)

How do we learn God’s word? Many ways. Don’t get caught up in assuming one method is superior to another. Simply be willing to learn, just as David was. Click To Tweet

Let’s Talk

In the next post, we will see how learning leads to obedience and obedience leads to purity. Until then, I’d love to hear the different ways you’ve learned God’s word in the past. Which method was most effective for you? Share below or email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

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