Psalm 86:11

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 11. Teach me thy way, O LORD. Instruct me thus at all times, let me live in thy school; but teach me now especially since I am in trouble and perplexity. Be pleased to shew me the way which thy wisdom and mercy have prepared for my escape; behold I lay aside all wilfulness, and only desire to be informed as to thy holy and gracious mind. Not my way give me, but thy way teach me, I would follow thee and not be wilful.

I will walk in thy truth. When taught I will practise what I know, truth shall not be a mere doctrine or sentiment to me, but a matter of daily life. The true servant of God regulates his walk by his master's will, and hence he never walks deceitfully, for God's way is ever truth. Providence has a way for us, and it is our wisdom to keep in it. We must not be as the bullock which needs to be driven and urged forward because it likes not the road, but be as men who voluntarily go where their trusted friend and helper appoints their path.

Unite my heart to fear thy name. Having taught me one way, give me one heart to walk therein, for too often I feel a heart and a heart, two natures contending, two principles struggling for sovereignty. Our minds are apt to be divided between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred runnels; our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord alone. A man of divided heart is weak, the man of one object is the man. God who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by his uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom, therefore should we be undividedly given up to it, heart, and soul.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 11. Teach me thy way: I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart. Here is the "Via, Veritas, Vita" of the Gospel ( John 14:6 ). "Via tua, Veritas tua, Vita tua, Christus." Christ is our Way, Truth, and Life, because he is Man united to God, and is one substance with the Father. --Christopher Wordsworth.

Verse 11. Teach me. There is no point on which the world is more dark than that of its own ignorance -- we might truly say, "it is ignorant of its ignorance" -- it knows enough when it learns by rote a few first principles of religion; it comforts itself that it is not atheistical because it believes that there is a God; but as to knowing his ways, laws, mind, or any such things, with them it has nothing at all to do. The people of the world do not care for enlightenment; they feel no pressing need for it; in all probability they have an instinctive feeling that if enlightened they would know a little more than they wish to know, that their newly acquired knowledge would interfere with their old habits and ways, and this is one reason why all spiritual teaching which goes beneath the surface is distasteful to the majority of men. They cannot bear to be brought into contact with God, in anything but a general way; the particulars of his character may not agree over well with the particulars of their lives!

It is the fashion in the present day to talk of man's enlightenment, and to represent human nature as upheaving under its load, as straining towards a knowledge of truth; such is not in reality the case, and whenever there is an effort in the mind untaught of the Spirit, it is directed towards God as the great moral and not as the great spiritual Being. A man untaught of the Holy Ghost may long to know a moral, he can never desire to know a spiritual Being. --John Hyatt, 1767-1826.

Verse 11. Teach. The common version of the verb here is too vague, as it fails to bring out the peculiar suitableness of the term to express the kind of teaching here specifically meant. The original meaning of the Hebrew word is to point out or mark the way. --J.A. Alexander.

Verse 11. I will walk in thy truth. Conform to Scripture. Let us lead Scripture lives. Oh that the Bible might be seen to be printed in our lives! Do what the Word commands. Obedience is an excellent way of commenting upon the Bible.

Let the Word be the sun dial by which you set your life. What are we the better for having the Scriptures, if we do not direct all our speeches and actions according to it? What is a carpenter better for his rule about him, if he sticks it at his back, and never makes use of it for measuring and squaring? So, what are we the better for the rule of the Word, if we do not make use of it, and regulate our lives by it? --Thomas Watson.

Verse 11. I will walk in thy truth. Walking, in the Scripture, takes in the whole of our conversation or conduct: and to walk in anything, intends a fulness of it. For a man to walk in pride, is something more than to be proud: it says, that pride is his way, his element; that he is wholly under the influence of it. --William Jay.

Verse 11. Unite my heart to fear thy name. The end which he desired to secure was that he might truly fear God, or properly reverence and honour him; the means which he saw to be necessary for this was that his "heart" might be "united" in this one great object; that is, that his heart might be single in its views and purposes; that there might be no distracting purposes; that one great aim might be always before him. The word rendered unite -- dxy, yahhad -- occurs as a verb only in three places. In Genesis 49:6 it is rendered united: "Unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united." In Isaiah 14:20 it is translated joined: "Thou shalt not be joined unto them." The adverb -- dxy ya-hhad -- occurs often, and is rendered together, Genesis 13:6 22:6,8,19 36:7; et soepe. The idea is that of union, or conjunction; of being together; of constituting one; and this is accomplished in the heart when there is one great ruling object before the mind which nothing is allowed to interfere with. It may be added, that there is no more appropriate prayer which a man can offer than that his heart may have such unity of purpose, and that nothing may be allowed to interfere with that one supreme purpose. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 11. Unite my heart, etc. Sincerity drives but one design, and that is to please and enjoy God; and what can more establish and fix the soul in the hour of temptation than this? The reason why the hypocrite is unstable in all his ways, is given us by the apostle: he is "a double minded man", a man of two souls in one body; as a profane wretch once boasted, that he had one soul for God, and another for anything. But all the designs of a gracious heart are united in one; and so the entire stream of his affections runs strong.

It is base by ends and self interests, that, like a great many ditches cut out of the bank of a river, draw away the stream out of its proper channel, and make its waters fail. But if the heart be united for God, then we may say of such a Christian, as was said of a young Roman, "What he does is done with all his might." A man of only one design, puts out all his strength to carry it; nothing can stand before him.

Sincerity brings a man's will into subjection to the will of God; and this being done, the greatest danger and difficulty is over with such a man. This is that holy oil which makes the wheels of the soul run nimbly, even in the difficult paths of obedienee. -- John Flavel.

Verse 11. Unite my heart.

Give me thine heart but as I gave it thee:
Or give it me at least as I

Have given mine

To purchase thine.
I halved it not when I did die;
But gave myself wholly to set thee free.
The heart I gave thee was a living heart;
And when thy heart by sin was slain,

I laid down mine

To ransom thine,
That thy dead heart might live again,
And live entirely perfect, not in part.
But whilst thine heart's divided, it is dead;
Dead unto me, unless it live

To me alone,

It is all one
To keep all, and a part to give:
For what's a body worth without an head!
Yet, this is worse, that what thou keepest from me
Thou dost bestow upon my foes

And those not mine

Alone, but thine;
The proper causes of thy woes,
From whom I gave my life to set thee free.
Have I betrothed thee to myself, and shall
The devil, and the world, intrude

Upon my right,

Eeen in my sight?
Think not thou canst me so delude:
I will have none, unless I may have all.
I made it all, I gave it all to thee,
I gave all that I had for it:

If I must lose,

I would rather choose
Mine interest in all to quit:
Or keep it whole, or give it whole to me.

--Francis Quarles, in "The School of the Heart."

Verse 11. Unite my heart to fear thy name.

In knotts, to be loosed never,
Knitt my heart to thee forever,
That I to thy name may beare
Fearful love and loving feare.

--Francis Davison.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 11. In the disposition of mind which is expressed in these words, the believer stands opposed to four descriptions of character.

  1. The ignorant and thoughtless sinner, who neither regards his way nor his end.
  2. The Antinomian, who is zealous for doctrines, and averse from the practice of religion.
  3. The Pharisee, who disregards religious sentiment, and makes practice all in all.
  4. The hypocrite, who appears to be divided between religion and the world. -- John Hyatt, 1811.

Verse 11. -- The Christian as a scholar, a man of action, and a man of devotion.

Verse 11. -- Holiness taught, truth practised, God adored; and thus the life perfected.

Verse 11. (middle clause). -- We should walk in the belief of the truth, its practice, enjoyment, and profession. --William Jay.

Verse 11. (third clause). -- The necessity, benefit, and reasonableness of whole heartedhess in religion.