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Psalm 32:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. Here the Lord is the speaker, and gives the psalmist an answer to his prayer. Our Saviour is our instructor. The Lord himself deigns to teach his children to walk in the way of integrity, his holy word and the monitions of the Holy Spirit are the directors of the believer's daily conversation. We are not pardoned that we may henceforth live after our own lusts, but that we may be educated in holiness and trained for perfection. A heavenly training is one of the covenant blessings which adoption seals to us: "All thy children shall be taught by the Lord." Practical teaching is the very best of instruction, and they are thrice happy who, although they never sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and are ignorant of Aristotle, and the ethics of the schools, have nevertheless learned to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. I will guide thee with mine eye. As servants take their cue from the master's eye, and a nod or a wink is all that they require, so should we obey the slightest hints of our Master, not needing thunderbolts to startle our incorrigible sluggishness, but being controlled by whispers and love touches. The Lord is the great overseer, whose eye in providence overlooks everything. It is well for us to be the sheep of his pasture, following the guidance of his wisdom.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. No other than God himself can undertake so much as is promised in the text. For here is faith, a rectifying of the understanding, I will instruct thee, and in the original there is somewhat more than our translation reaches to; it is there, Intelligere faciam te, I will make thee understand. Man can instruct, God only can make us understand. And then it is Faciam te, I will make thee, thee understand; the work is the Lord's, the understanding is the man's: for God does not work in man as the devil did in idols and in pythonissis, and in ventriloquis, in possessed persons, who had no voluntary concurrence with the action of the devil, but were merely passive; God works so in man as that he makes man work too, faciam te, I will make thee understand; that that shall be done by me, but in thee; the power that rectifies the act is God's, the act is man's; Faciam te, says God, I will make thee, thee, every particular person (for that arises out of this singular and distributive word, thee, which threatens no exception, no exclusion), I will make every person to whom I present instruction, capable of that instruction; and if he receive it not, it is only his, and not my fault. And so this first part is an instruction de credendis, of such things, as by God's rectifying of our understanding we are bound to believe. And then, in a second part, there follows a more particular instructing, Docebo, "I will teach thee," and that in via, "in the way;" it is not only de via, to teach thee which is the way, that thou mayest find it, but in via, how to keep the way when thou art in it; he will teach thee, not only ut gradiaris, that you may walk in it and not sleep, but quomodo gradieris, that you may walk in it and not stray; and so this second part is an institution de agendis, of those things which, thine understanding being formerly rectified, and deduced into a belief, thou art bound to do. And then in the last words of the text, I will guide thee with mine eye, there is a third part, and establishment, a confirmation by an incessant watchfulness in God; he will consider, consult upon us (for so much the original word imports), he will not leave us to contingencies, to fortune; no, nor to his own general providence, by which all creatures are universally in his protection and administration, but he will ponder us, consider us, study us; and that with his eye, which is the sharpest and most sensible organ and instrument, soonest feels if anything be amiss, and so inclines him quickly to rectify us; and so this third part is an instruction de sperandis, it hath evermore a relation to the future, to the constancy and perseverance of God's goodness towards us; to the end, and in the end he will guide us with his eye: except the eye of God can be put out we cannot be put out of his sight and his care. So that, both our freight which we are to take in, that is, what we are to believe concerning God; and the voyage which we are to make, how we are to steer and govern our course, that is, our behaviour and conversation in the household of the faithful; and then the haven to which we must go, that is, our assurance of arriving at the heavenly Jerusalem, are expressed in this chart, in this map, in this instruction, in this text. John Donne.

Verse 8. This threefold repetition, I will instruct thee, I will teach thee, I will guide thee, teaches us three properties of a good teacher. First, to make the people understand the way of salvation; secondly, to go before them; thirdly, to watch over them and their ways. Archibald Symson.

Verse 8. The way. If we compare this way with all other ways, it will whet our care to enter into and continue in it; for, first, this is the King's highway, in which we have promise of protection. Psalms 91:11 . Secondly, God's ways are the cleanest of all. 2 Samuel 22:31 . Thirdly, God's ways are the rightest ways; and, being rightest, they be also the shortest ways. Hosea 14:9 . Fourthly, God's ways are most lightsome and cheerful. Proverbs 3:17 . Therefore, God's ways being the safest, cleanest, rightest, shortest, and lightsomest ways, we must be careful to walk in them. Condensed from Thomas Taylor.

Verse 8. I will guide thee with mine eye. We read in natural story (A reviewer remarks upon the bad natural history which we quote. We reply that to alter it would be to spoil the allusions, and we are making a book for men, not for babes. No person in his senses is likely at this day to believe the fables which in former ages passed current for facts.), of some creatures, Qui solo oculorum aspectu fovent ova (Pliny), which hatch their eggs only by looking upon them. What cannot the eye of God produce and hatch in us? Plus est quod probatur aspectu, quam quod sermone (Ambrose.) A man may seem to commend in words, and yet his countenance shall dispraise. His word infuses good purposes into us; but if God continue his eye upon us it is a further approbation, for he is a God of pure eyes, and will not look upon the wicked. "This land doth the Lord thy God care for, and the eyes of the Lord are always upon it from beginning of the year, even to the end thereof." Deuteronomy 11:12 . What a cheerful spring, what a fruitful autumn hath that soul, that hath the eye of the Lord always upon her! The eye of the Lord upon me makes midnight noon; it makes Capricorn Cancer, and the winter's the summer's solstice; the eye of the Lord sanctifies, nay, more than sanctifies, glorifies all the eclipses of dishonour, makes melancholy cheerfulness, diffidence assurance, and turns the jealousy of the sad soul into infallibility ... This guiding us with his eye manifests itself in these two great effects; conversion to him, and union with him. First, his eye works upon ours; his eye turns ours to look upon him. Still it is so expressed with an Ecce; "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all them that fear him;" his eye calls ours to behold that; and then our eye calls upon his, to observe our cheerful readiness ... When, as a well made picture doth always look upon him that looks upon it, this image of God in our soul is turned to him, by his turning to it, it is impossible we should do any foul, any uncomely thing in his presence ... The other great effect of his guiding us with his eye, is, that it unites us to himself; when he fixes his eye upon us, and accepts the return of ours to him, then he "keeps" us as the "apple" of his "eye." Zechariah 2:8 ... These are the two great effects of his guiding us by his eye, that first, his eye turns us to himself, and then turns us into himself; first, his eye turns ours to him, and then, that makes us all one with himself, so as that our afflictions shall be put upon his patience, and our dishonours shall be injurious to him; we cannot be safer than by being his; but thus we are not only his, but he; to every persecutor, in every one of our behalf, he shall say, Cur me? Why persecutest thou me? And as he is all power, and can defend us, so here he makes himself all eye, which is the most tender part, and most sensible of our pressures. Condensed from John Donne.

Verse 8. I will guide thee with mine eye. Margin, I will counsel thee, mine eye shall be upon thee. The margin expresses the sense of the Hebrew. The literal meaning is, "I will counsel thee; mine eyes shall be upon thee." De Wette: "my eye shall be directed towards thee." The idea is that of one who is telling another what way he is to take in order that he may reach a certain place; and he says he will watch him, or will keep an eye upon him; he will not let him go wrong. Albert Barnes.

Verse 8. Mine eye. We may consider mercies as the beamings of the Almighty's eye, when the light of his countenance is lifted up upon us; and that man as guided by the eye, whom mercies attract and attach to his Maker. But oh! let us refuse to be guided by the eye, and it will become needful that we be curbed with the hand. If we abuse our mercies, if we forget their Author, and yield him not gratefully the homage of our affections, we do but oblige him, by his love for our souls, to apportion us disaster and trouble. Complain not, then, that there is so much of sorrow in your lot; but consider rather how much of it you may have wilfully brought upon yourselves. Listen to the voice of God. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye -- mine eye, whose glance gilds all that is beautiful, whose light disperses all darkness, prevents all danger, diffuses all happiness. And why, then, is it that ye are sorely disquieted? why is it that "fear and the pit" are so often upon you; that one blessing after another disappears from your circle; and that God seems to deal with you as with the wayward and unruly, on whom any thing of gentleness would be altogether lost? Ah! if you would account for many mercies that have departed, if you would insure permanence to those that are yet left, examine how deficient you may hitherto have been, and strive to be more diligent for the future, in obeying an admonition which implies that we should be guided by the soft lusters of the eye, if our obduracy did not render indispensable the harsh constraints of the rein. Henry Melvill.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8. The power of the eye. Henry Melvill. In which he vainly tries to prove infant baptism and episcopacy, which he admits are not expressly taught in Scripture, but declares them to be hinted at as with the divine eye.

Read Psalm 32:8