Monday, May 4, 2015

The Truth: A Teachable and United Heart

Psalm 86:11
Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

I absolutely love when one verse of the Bible, one single verse, can teach you so much.  This verse is one of those.  And I think it is absolutely beautiful.  As the Expositor's Commentary states, this verse "culminates in one of the sweetest & deepest prayers of the Psalter."

In verses 1-10 of this Psalm, David is crying out to God for help.  He wants the Lord to deliver him from his troubles.  Yet, "The thought of God's power carries [him] beyond remembrance of his immediate outward needs, and stirs high desires in him" (Expositor's).  David knows that, even though his physical and emotional life may be in danger, his spiritual life remains the number one priority.

So, first, David asks the Lord to teach him His ways.  Why?  So that he can walk in the Lord's truth.  David knows that he can't trust his own judgment.  We have too much of our own stuff that gets in the way.  We can't see the whole picture sometimes.  David was wise enough to know he needed guidance beyond himself.  If we rephrase it, it might sound something like this: "When I am in doubt concerning [my duty], make it plain to me what I should do; let me hear the voice saying, 'This is the way'" (Henry).  Does that plea sound familiar to you?  I know I've said something similar a few times in my prayers.  There are many times in my life that I am completely unsure of what to do, of what the right path is.  So I pray that God will guide me, and often ask for a neon sign.  ;) I don't want to miss what He has to say!  

Thankfully, He has given us His word to guide us through this life.  If we want to learn His ways, we need only spend time in His word and in prayer.  Then, we are able to walk in truth.  For what is truth?  His word is truth (John 17:17).  

David also asks the Lord to unite his heart so that he may fear the Lord's name.  That phrase struck me as unique.  And I was right!  The Hebrew word for "unite" is only used 3 times in the Old Testament!  And each time is very similar to our understanding of the word.  When you think of the word 'unite,' what do you think of? Bringing things together? Working together for a cause?  

That is exactly what the Hebrew word for unite entails.  David did not want his heart, his desires and affections, to be split between the Lord and the world.  He wanted everything he was to be focused on the Lord: "Let my heart be fixed for God, and firm and faithful to Him, and fervent in serving Him; that is a united heart" (Henry).  

Think about it this way - if you spouse loved another person romantically, would you feel very loved?  No - "Divided love is no love.".  Just as "the river that breaks into a multitude of channels is sucked up by the sand without reaching the ocean, and has no force in its current to scour away obstructions," so are our affections when it comes to the Lord (Expositor's).  If our affections lie in a number of different places, by the time they get to the Lord there is little left!  If our affections are going in a multitude of directions, there is not a strong force to push away obstructions, to get rid of things blocking the path to the Lord.  

We already know that the road leading to Christ is a narrow one.  So why would we put the full force of our affections anywhere but on that path.  Our affections cannot be divided!!  They must be fully aligned to that narrow road, headed to the ocean of our Lord's will.  

Only then can we fully fear His name.  Only then can we respect Him and revere Him in a way that He deserves.  

In conclusion, "There is no peace nor blessedness, neither is any nobility of life possible, without wholehearted devotion to one great object; and there is no object capable of evoking such devotion or worthy to receive it, except Him who is 'God alone'...The very conception of [Christianity] requires that it should be exclusive, and should dominate the whole nature" (Expositor's).  Christianity isn't something that only comes along on Sunday mornings.  It is the definition of who you are.  And if it isn't, well then, it's something else....

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