God in the Psalms No.40 – God who is teacher
Psa 25:4,5 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
For many people their schooldays were not the best years of their life. In fact, for many people the thought of teachers and school sends a cold shiver down their spine. It’s sad but it’s true. So what about God who is a teacher? Are some of us left with a vision of an angry old man who will smack us around the ear if we fail to repeat the things we heard last Sunday? Is He just waiting to put us in detention or give us the cane (which may be completely unknown to the younger generation), is he waiting to rebuke us for being so slow witted. Ah! Now on that last point we have to be careful for He does have expectations of us and He does rebuke us if we refuse to believe! Be careful!
But look at these verses, look at David’s heart. To catch the full significance of what he is saying we need to put it in context (as we always should) and see what went before. He has been saying that his trust and his hope are in the Lord and he’s asking not to be put to shame before his enemies; in fact anyone, he says, who hopes in the Lord will not be put to shame. Do you see what he is saying? He’s saying the whole basis of his life, and particularly his life as he confronts his enemies, is reliant upon knowing the Lord. Therefore he comes with an open teachable heart, saying, Lord, I need to know things if I am not to be put to shame before my enemies, I need you to show me, teach me, guide me. This isn’t coming from the Lord saying, you must learn; this is coming as David is aware of the truth of his life and recognizing his need to learn. Therein is the start of wisdom, recognizing our need to learn.
Solomon knew this: “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” (Prov 2:6-8). In his words, the Lord gives victory to those who walk rightly before the Lord, and guards and protects them. And how does He do that? First by giving them wisdom, knowledge and understanding to know how to walk rightly before Him. Isn’t that just the thing that David asks for? “Show me your ways”, i.e. show me the way to walk rightly before you.
The ‘ways’ of the Lord? Moses cried, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Ex 33:13). The Lord answered that cry: “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 34:6,7). It was like the Lord answered: “My ways? I’m compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…. this is the sort of God I am and this is how I work, these are the ways I operate.” This, if you like, is the path the Lord walks, and so if we are to walk with Him we will be the same. If we walk like this, like David, we will be able to trust in Him and hope in Him. We can trust that He is there for us today and hope He will be there for us tomorrow and when He is, we will be secure and we will not be ashamed before our enemies, for the Lord will be with us and for us. Hallelujah!