How often do we assume that ours is the right way, and others are wrong? How can we be so sure that there can only be one path and not many paths to the same end? How can the Holy Spirit transform us if we do not have a teachable heart? How can the Lord help us if we do not place our trust in Him? I think we have a lot to learn from the psalmist who prayed: “Show me your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me: for you are the God of my salvation; on you do I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
The “ways” of God are His methods of administering the affairs of the world; His dispensations; the rules which He has prescribed for Himself in the execution of His plans; the great laws by which He governs the universe. Deuteronomy 32:4, “all his ways are judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” The prayer of the psalmist is, that he may be able to understand the methods of the divine government; the principles upon which God bestows happiness and salvation; the rules which He has been pleased to prescribe for human conduct; the arrangements by which He confers favours upon mankind; the scheme by which He saves people. The idea evidently is that he might understand so much of this as to regulate his own conduct aright; that he might not lean upon his own understanding, or trust to his own guidance, but that he might always be under the guidance and direction of God.
It is important to note that it is not, “Show me Your way, O Lord,” but ways; plural, not singular, not as though it were one and definite. What is mysterious, but intricate and manifold, often crossing one another, and apparently inexplicable, on account of seeming contradictions; not merely such as we do not understand on account of our ignorance, but such as seem impossible to be explained, because of their contrariety in themselves. And in very deed this is often the appearance of the ways of God. They are not only so plural, but so infinite in their plurality; so intertwined with and intersecting each other that there is reason to believe that if they were fully laid open to our view we would not be able to understand them, so intricate is their network. However, there is not a circumstance that occurs to ourselves or to others that is not an organised part of God’s instrumentality for bringing His purposes to pass.
Truth is eternal and unchanging. What God sees and regards as truth is true, because he sees things as they are; and when we have the divine estimate of anything, we understand what the thing is. It is not that He makes it to be true, but that He sees it to be true. Such is the perfection of His nature that we have the utmost assurance that what God regards as truth is truth; what He proclaims to be right is right. It is then His truth, as He adopts it for the rule of His own conduct, and makes it known to His creatures to guide them.
The psalmist prayed that God would teach him by His law as then made known; by His Spirit in the heart; by the dispensations of His providence. As applicable to us, it is a prayer that He would instruct us by all the truths then made known, and all that have since been revealed; by His Spirit in its influences on our hearts; by the events which are occurring around us; by the “accumulated” truth of ages; the knowledge which by all the methods He employs He has imparted to people for their guidance and direction.
The word “salvation” in verse 5 is not to be understood in the sense in which it is now commonly used, as denoting deliverance from sin and future ruin, but in the more general sense of “deliverance” – deliverance from danger and death. The phrase is synonymous with “preservation,” and the idea is that the psalmist regarded God as his preserver; or that he owed his protection and safety in the time of danger to Him alone.
The psalmist was really dependent upon God at all times, and he felt that dependence. It is always true that we are dependent upon God for everything; it is not true that we always feel that way. It was a characteristic of the piety of the psalmist that he depended on the Lord all the day, and we should pray for the grace to do likewise.
Let us praise God with the hymn: “To You O Lord”: