Verse 4. Shew me thy ways, O Lord. Unsanctified natures clamour for their own way, but gracious spirits cry, "Not my will, but thine be done." We cannot at all times discern the path of duty, and at such times it is our wisdom to apply to the Lord himself. Frequently the dealings of God with us are mysterious, and then also we may appeal to him as his own interpreter, and in due time he will make all things plain. Moral, providential and mental forms of guidance are all precious gifts of a gracious God to a teachable people. The second petition, teach me thy paths, appears to mean more than the first, and may be illustrated by the case of a little child who should say to his father, "Father, first tell me which is the way, and then teach my little trembling feet to walk in it." What weak dependent creatures we are! How constantly should we cry to the Strong for strength!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Shew me thy ways, O Lord, etc. There are the "ways" of men, and the "ways" of God; the "paths" of sin, and the "paths" of righteousness: there are "thy ways," and there are my ways; thine the ways of truth, mine the ways of error; thine which are good in thine eyes, and mine which are good in mine eyes; thine which lead to heaven, mine which lead to hell. Wherefore, Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths, lest I mistake mine own ways for thine; yea, lead me in the truth, and teach me, lest I turn out of thy ways into mine own: shew me thy ways, by the ministry of thy word; teach me thy paths, in the guidance of thy Spirit, "lead me in thy truth," by the assistance of thy grace. Robert Mossom.
Verse 4-5,9. Do what you know, and God will teach you what to do. Do what you know to be your present duty, and God will acquaint you with your future duty as it comes to be present. Make it your business to avoid known omissions, and God will keep you from feared commissions. This rule is of great moment, and therefore I will charge it upon you by express Scripture. Shew me thy ways, O Lord, i.e., those ways wherein I cannot err. Teach me thy paths, i.e., that narrow path which is too commonly unknown, those commands that are most strict and difficult, Ver. 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, i.e., teach me evidently, that I may not be deceived; so teach me, that I may not only know thy will, but do it. Here's his prayer, but what grounds hath he to expect audience? For thou art the God of my salvation, q.d., thou Lord, wilt save me, and therefore do not refuse to teach me. On thee do I wait all the day, i.e., the whole day, and every day. Other arguments are couched in the following verses, but what answer? Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way, i.e., those that submit their neck to his yoke, those that are not conceited that they can guide themselves; in necessary, great and weighty matters they shall not err. Samuel Annesley, D.D. (1620-1696), in "Morning Exercises at Cripplegate."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. Practical divinity the best study; God the best teacher; Prayer the mode of entrance into the school.
Verse 4-5. Shew. Teach. Lead. Three classes in the school of grace.