Psalm 119: 1-16
1 How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord. 2 How blessed are those who observe his rules, and seek him with all their heart, 3 who, moreover, do no wrong, but follow in his footsteps. 4 You demand that your precepts be carefully kept. 5 If only I were predisposed to keep your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed, if I were focused on all your commands. 7 I will give you sincere thanks, when I learn your just regulations. 8 I will keep your statutes. Do not completely abandon me! 9 How can a young person maintain a pure life? By guarding it according to your instructions! 10 With all my heart I seek you. Do not allow me to stray from your commands! 11 In my heart I store up your words, so I might not sin against you. 12 You deserve praise, O Lord! Teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I proclaim all the regulations you have revealed. 14 I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by your rules as if they were riches of all kinds. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and focus on your behavior. 16 I find delight in your statutes; I do not forget your instructions.
One person looks at rules and boundaries as an outdated suggestion. Another sees them as something to aspire to, but impossible. Yet another recognizes the wisdom in restraining oneself and the ironic pleasure self-denial brings. It is possible to walk with God with the boundaries He has set – He would not command it if it were not so. The decision to set boundaries in our lives does not just happen, however – it is purposefully planned and carefully carried out.
I was saved at the age of nineteen when the LORD placed on my heart to stop dating. Peers thought I was crazy and labeled me everything from “miss purity” to a “lesbian” to being worldly. Wow – I could not be all three things at the same time – what was I? I was a new believer who recognized the present world system of dating was not godly. I waited on the LORD and trusted Him for a mate. I learned what it meant to place boundaries in my life and made mistakes but gratefully waited until my wedding to consummate that covenant.
Since then, I have experienced betrayal and now wear the scarlet letter “D” – something I never thought I would wear. Yet walking through those dark waters has taught me more than my former skepticism of those who have also tasted of the scorn that divorce brings. Despite following the path God set, I could not control the other person’s decisions or actions. Forgiveness came but so did consequences. Since that time, I have gone through the process of courting again and remarrying. Boundaries that I had when I was younger were once again in place, only this time it was more difficult. It was easy to maintain those boundaries while married, but when single again I had to learn all over again what that should look like. Finding anyone who had waited until their wedding was seemingly impossible and excuses are readily available for failure – we are only human, after all. Rationalization is an easy find, too. It is a natural behavior to deem a standard too difficult and try to make an easier solution – that is our flesh. But God’s Word gives a prescription and method that is altogether beautiful and truly freedom.
Excuses, rationalization and an ungodly culture make it difficult to obey boundaries set by God, but there is a treasure in this passage which shows us the path to victory – guarding purity with God’s instructions. Time and culture changing do not affect God’s standard. Instead of resenting the limitations, the Psalmist actually delights in the “lifestyle prescribed by Your rules as if they were riches…”. Wow – what a perspective. Satan loves to deceive us and trick us into thinking we are missing out – well, we do miss out on sin and its vicious consequences when we elect to live our lives God’s way. The Psalmist cherishes the boundaries and keeps them with several means: he meditates, focuses on, delights in and does not forget God’s instructions. I have to admit the forgetting part is more difficult as I have gotten older, but makes me appreciate why the Israelites had to repeatedly remind themselves to obey – our natural disposition is to disobey.
Now I have teens and young adults in my home going through the process of establishing boundaries and walking in purity. It is a delight to walk beside them and counsel them and they benefit from my obedience and mistakes, too. Despite the natural degradation that occurs from generation to generation, I have heard an admirable goal of a parent is to have the next generation be even more righteous than the one that went before it. May it be so.
Maybe you have not ever had boundaries and it is scary to contemplate beginning a disciplined life. Maybe you have failed and don’t want to have boundaries for fear of failure again. Even though the Psalmist himself (a man after God’s own hear) knew what it was to fail, too, he recognized his folly and chose to redirect his life toward God’s boundaries. He did not seek popular opinion or look to his own thoughts to form his standards. He put forth God’s standard of holiness, knowing he himself could not maintain or attain to it, save the grace of God. But he did not stop there – he set boundaries in his life and adhered to them tenaciously. He began anew. So can we.
Lord, help us to walk in the liberty that boundaries bring. May we walk in integrity and not make provision for the flesh, nor excuse our sin. You made us and know the best way. May Your Name be praised forever and ever.