Verse 26. I have declared my ways. Open confession is good for the soul. Nothing brings more ease and more life to a man than a frank acknowledgment of the evil which has caused the sorrow and the lethargy. Such a declaration proves that the man knows his own condition, and is no longer blinded by pride. Our confessions are not meant to make God know our sins, but to make us know them.
And thou heardest me. His confession had been accepted; it was not lost labour; God had drawn near to him in it. We ought never to go from a duty till we have been accepted in it. Pardon follows upon penitent confession, and David felt that he had obtained it. It is God's way to forgive our sinful way when we from our hearts confess the wrong.
Teach me thy statutes. Being truly sorry for his fault, and having obtained full forgiveness, he is anxious to avoid offending again, and hence he begs to be taught obedience. He was not willing to sin through ignorance, he wished to know all the mind of God by being taught it by the best of teachers. He pined after holiness. Justified men always long to be sanctified. When God forgives our sins we are all the more fearful of sinning, again. Mercy, which pardons transgression, sets us longing for grace which prevents transgression. We may boldly ask for more when God has given us much; he who has washed out the past stain will not refuse that which will preserve us from present and future defilement. This cry for teaching is frequent in the Psalm; in Psalms 119:12 it followed a sight of God, here it follows from a sight of self. Every experience should lead us thus to plead with God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 26. I have declared my ways, etc. This verse contains a prayer, with a reason after this form: -- O Lord, I have oft before declared unto thee the whole state and course of my life, my wanderings, my wants, my doubts, my griefs: I hid nothing from thee, and thou, according to my necessity, didst always hear me: therefore now, Lord, I pray thee to teach me; by thy light illuminate me that I may know thy statutes and receive grace to walk in them. This is a good argument in dealing with the Lord, -- I have gotten many mercies and favourable answers from thee; therefore, Lord, I pray thee to give me more; for whom he loves, he loves to the end; and where he begins to show mercy he ceaseth not till he crown his children with mercy. And so gracious is he Lord, that he esteems himself to be honoured as oft as we give him the praise that we have found comfort in him, and therefore come to seek more.
Next, it is to be marked how he saith, I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: these two go well together, Mercy and Truth: truth in the heart of man confessing; mercy in God, hearing and forgiving: happy is the soul wherein these two meet together. Many there are who are destitute of this comfort; they cannot say, God hath heard me, and all because they deal not plainly and truly with the Lord in declaring their ways unto him. William Cowper.
Verse 26. I have declared my ways. In Psalms 119:59 he thinketh upon his ways, that is, his inward imperfections and outward aberrations from the strait and straight ways of God; and here he is not ashamed to declare them, that is, to acknowledge and confess that all this came upon him because he was forgetful to do God's will. Note the connection between this and the previous verse: My soul clave unto the dust, because I clave not to thee. --Richard Greenham.
Verse 26. I have declared my ways. ytdrm, sipparti, "I have remembered my ways"; I have searched them out; I have investigated them. And that he had earnestly prayed for pardon of what was wrong in them, is evident; for he adds, Thou heardest me. Adam Clarke.
Verse 26. I have declared my ways, etc. Him whom thou hast heard in humble confessing of his sins, him thou must teach thy statutes. The saints lay open to God what they find, both good and evil seeking deliverance, supply, strengthening, directing: even as sick patients tell to their doctor both what good and what otherwise they perceive; or as clients lay bare their case to their counsel.
Declared. As if he had read them out of a book. The saints know their ways. A man that hath light with him seeth the way, and can tell you all about it; another is in darkness and knoweth nothing: the one taketh observation of his course, the other doth not.
Thou hast heard me. God's goodness is seen in his hearing what we lay open before him. If great ones let a poor man tell his tale at large we count it honourable patience; but it is God's glory to hear our wants, our weakness through sin, the invincibleness of our evils, our utter impotency in ourselves even to seek redress. That mode of procedure would lose the favour of man, but it winneth favour with God. The more humbly we confess all our wants, the more confident we may be that God will hear us. He teacheth the humble, for the humble scholar will give to his master the honour of that he learns.
I have rehearsed (said with myself) my ways; and "thou hast beard my private confession." I have declared to others what my way is, and "thou hast heard me" so discoursing; wherefore teach me, seeing I communicate what I receive. It is a plea derived from his carefulness to learn, and from the use he had made of that he had learned. The godly, like candles, light each other. Paul Bayne.
Verse 26. I have declared my ways. They that would speed with God, should learn this point of Christian ingenuity, unfeignedly to lay open their whole case to him. That is, to declare what they are about, the nature of their affairs, the state of their hearts, what of good or evil they find in themselves, their conflicts, supplies, distresses, hopes; this is declaring our ways -- the good and evil we are conscious of. As a sick patient will tell the physician how it is with him, so should we deal with God, if we would find mercy. This declaring his ways may be looked upon,
- As an act of faith and dependence.
- As an act of holy friendship.
- As an act of spiritual contrition, and brokenness of heart: for this declaring must be explained according to what David meant by the expression, "My ways."
First, By his "ways" may be meant his businesses or undertakings: I have still made them known to thee, committing them to the direction of thy providence; and so it is an act of faith and dependence, consulting with God, and acquainting him with all our desires.
Secondly, By his "ways" may be meant, all his straits, sorrows, and dangers; and so this declaration is an act of holy friendship, when a man comes as one friend to another, and acquaints God with his whole state, lays his condition before the Lord, in hope of pity and relief.
Thirdly, By "ways" is meant temptations and sins; and so this declaring is an act of spiritual contrition or brokenness of heart. Sins are properly our ways, as Ezekiel 18:25 . Thomas Manton.
Verse 26-30. The way of thy precepts. My ways. The way of lying. The way of truth. Here should be noticed the two contrasts by which the Prophet teaches what must be shunned both in life and in doctrine, and what embraced. The first respects the life of Christians, as the Prophet sets the way of God's commandments over against his own ways, Psalms 119:26-27 ; and respecting these he confesses that they have pressed him down to the dust and have greatly distressed him; but respecting those he declares that they have again raised him up. He means by his own ways a depraved nature, carnal desire, and the carnal mind which is enmity against God, Romans 8:7 ; but by the ways of the Lord he denotes the will of God expressed in the Word. Therefore the boastings of the papists of the perfect obedience of the renewed are empty: for David, assured by having been renewed, complains bitterly and with many tears that his soul, under the intolerable weight of sins, had been brought down to the dust of death and almost suffocated; but that God had heard his prayers and brought him back to the way of his commandments. We, here, also, gather that in this life all the saints experience the wrestling and contest of the flesh and the spirit, so that they are continually compelled to mourn that their flesh turns them aside from the way of the Lord into the by paths of sin: just as Paul cries out, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, etc. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7:23-24 .
The second contrast concerneth the doctrine; for David opposes the way of lying to the way of truth. We are taught by this contrast that we should eschew false doctrine, and steadfastly adhere to divine truth. To this applies the precept of Paul, Eph 4:25. "Wherefore, having put away the lie, speak truth each one with his neighbour." Further, we learn, if we hate our own ways, i.e., confess our sins to the Lord, and, trusting in the Mediator, pray for forgiveness, that God is wont to hear and mercifully to forgive our sins; as it is written, 1 John 1:9 , "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Solomon Gesner.
Verse 26. Thou heardest me. Past answers to prayer should encourage us to come the more boldly to the throne of grace. -- Jacob never forgot the night he spent at Bethel. William S. Plumer.
Verse 26. Teach me thy statutes. The often repetition of this one thing in this Psalm argues,
- The necessity of this knowledge.
- The desire he had to obtain it.
- That such repetitions are not frivolous when they proceed from a sound heart, a zealous affection, and a consideration of the necessity of the thing prayed for.
- That such as have most light have little in respect of what they should have.
- As covetous men think they have never gold enough, so Christian men should think they have never knowledge enough. Richard Greenhorn.
Verse 26. Teach me. We can never do without teaching, even in old age. Unless the Spirit of God teaches us we learn in vain. Martin Geier.
Verse 26-27. Here is David's earnest desire for the continuance of that intimacy that had been between him and his God; not by visions and voices from heaven, but by the Word and Spirit in an ordinary way: "Teach me thy statutes," that is, "make me to understand the way of thy precepts." When he knew God had heard his declaration of his ways, he doth not say, Now, Lord, tell me my lot, and let me know what the event will be; but, Now, Lord, tell me my duty, let me know what thou wouldest have me to do as the case stands. Note, Those that in all their ways acknowledge God, may pray in faith that he will direct their steps in the right way. And the surest way of keeping up our communion with God is, by learning his statutes, and walking diligently in the way of his precepts. Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 26. -- Confession. Absolution. Instruction.
Verse 26. --
- The duty: "I have declared my ways" -- made known my experience of thy word to others.
- Its notice by God: "Thou heardest me."
- Its reward. More knowledge will be given: "Teach me," etc. --G.R.