Lead me in the way everlasting
Dear BPCWAians, Do you ever wonder where to start if you truly wanted to be walking constantly in the way of God all the days of your life on earth and not fail Him? Do you wish to constantly progress in your sanctification? Do you fear that as you go on in life and age, instead of growing spiritually in ways that please God more and more, you become more and more set in your old ways, or worse, you become more displeasing to God? Well, who better to learn from than the man whom God calls “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14).
David prayed to God, “lead me in the way everlasting” at the end of Psalm 139:24. He desired to be led by God, to be in God’s ways which are perpetual, and to be in God’s way for the rest of his life. This is being “in the way” of a sanctified life evermore while on earth. This was the purpose of his prayer. That is why God calls Him a man after His own heart. This must be our desire and walk as well.
The place to start for growth. In desiring spiritual growth and a sanctified life, David faced up to the fact that God knows his thoughts and ways through and through. Why? Because that knowledge will cause him to stop hiding from what can cause him not to grow spiritually. It will cause him to face up to what he truly is, even though others may see him to be outwardly godly and serving the LORD. We need to begin here and to keep doing so too. Notice that David begins with stating to God that God knows him thoroughly, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether” (Ps 139:2-4). Let each of us realise this clearly – God knows your remotest thoughts in every situation. He is present and knows what you think about in bed. He is fully aware of every detail of what you do and why you do what you do.
Why it is important to know God knows. I think most of us are not intentionally continuing in known and obvious sins. You generally want to be obedient and to be sincere before God. I hope that is why you have read this Pastoral thus far. But one salient point of this Psalm is about how much more there is to know about yourself that you need to know, but you still do not know yet. But God knows. And being humble enough and being constantly interested enough to want to know how God views you is critical for growing spiritually. It is what will help you to walk in the way everlasting all your life. Furthermore, when you start knowing that God knows intimately the first stirring of impure motives in our thoughts or actions, it should make you stop pretending or stop giving excuses, and start changing. Imagine how embarrassing it is to be found out when you do something to impress others or make excuses and is exposed for all to see? Imagine how others would react if your motivations became displayed for everyone to see as twinkling neon lights above your head? This is practically what David says is happening to us with God. Man cannot see or know your heart. But God truly knows very well all and everything about you and I. This is what amazes David in verse 6. It is what stirred him to pen this Psalm to ask God to help him.
What God sees and knows about you. We all like to look good to others. We all want to be liked, admired, and thought of well by others. We all want to be seen as godly, loving, and serving God. This is the image we will project to others. Even with holy sounding words and speech. Yes, we should indeed be godly, loving, and serving. But you can be so for the wrong motives – so that others know. For example, if you are someone who loves to be seen as helpful and kind, then examine yourself whenever you do something for others. For the very same outward act or thing said, your motive can be different from another person. The motive of every single thing you say to others is altogether crystal clear to Him. Even before you say something, help someone, and serve God in any capacity, you and I must realise that if there were any personal motives or pride, God immediately detects it from afar off while these thoughts are developing. This is the point David is making in this Psalm. Know that God is watching and knows every impure stirring and motive. David is acutely aware that he has wicked ways in him in verse 24. Until we are so deeply aware and cautious, we will not walk rightly before God, but will instead get worse and worse, the more we help and serve. I am not saying we do not help or serve. We should serve and not be paralysed. But the one who grows is the one who does so with careful self-examination and carefulness regarding his personal motives while doing or saying anything.
The point to note this week is – before you are willing to be led by God in the way everlasting, you must acknowledge that you need and want to be led by God in the first place. But until we confess that there is so much hidden in us that we still need to see as God sees us in our thoughts, we cannot be led by God. We shall see more practical examples in the coming weeks about how to ensure that we will be led in the way everlasting.
Yours in our Lord’s service