Teach Me Your Paths | Psalm 25
Brian Hedges | May 27, 2020
Thank you for joining us for this online service tonight. We’re going to be in the book of Psalms one more time, and this is the last message out of 12 messages we’ve been doing in the book of Psalms. It’s also the last of our Wednesday evening online services. We are planning to open our church up again soon, and already some of our small groups are meeting together, so there are avenues for people to connect with each other or connect with the word during the week. So this is the last week this spring that we’ll be offering these online services on Wednesday evening.
We’re going to be in Psalm 25 for this one final message in the book of Psalms. In the course of this series we’ve looked at a number of different types of psalms. We really started this series by looking at some of the lament psalms and how to deal with our emotions, such as fear and stress and impatience. We’ve also looked at psalms that had to do with forgiveness of sin and righteousness, one of the penitential psalms, Psalm 32, as well a psalm about righteousness, Psalm 15. We’ve also looked at psalms that you might call a testimony psalm, such as Psalm 107. Last week, in Psalm 55, we looked at one of the imprecations, the imprecatory psalms, a psalm where David is praying against his enemies, he’s processing his anger in the presence of the Lord.
All of these are important psalms and important types of psalms, and my hope in this series is that we’ve looked at enough of the different types of psalms to get an idea of how to use the entire book of Psalms.
Tonight I want to look at one more, Psalm 25. This is, again, a unique kind of psalm. This is what we might call a wisdom psalm. It’s a psalm that in Hebrew was actually written as an acrostic, with the 22 verses of the psalm mostly beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet; there is some slight variation in that. This was common in wisdom literature. There are also themes that have to do with wisdom, especially the theme of the fear of the Lord and things related to guidance that show up in this psalm. So we’re going to treat it as a wisdom psalm tonight, and especially focus on the theme of guidance. How do we discern God’s will? How is it that God guides us in our daily lives and the big decisions of our lives, in the daily paths that we take? This psalm, I think, has much to teach us about that.
So, Psalm 25, and I just want to begin by reading through the entire psalm, and then I want to break it down into five directions that this psalm gives us when it comes to guidance. Okay? Psalm 25, beginning in verse 1.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
“Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
“Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
“For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
“Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
“Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.”
This is God’s word.
Now, as I’ve already mentioned, this is one of the wisdom psalms, and of course, as we read through this psalm, there are also other elements in it. It’s also a psalm of lament in certain ways and a psalm of confidence in God. But there are certain features of wisdom literature that figure into this psalm.
As we read it I’m sure you noticed that there are a number of different themes. On the one hand, David is praying for deliverance from his trouble and from his distress. He’s also asking for forgiveness and pardon for his sins. But a dominant theme in the psalm is the request for guidance, as he asks the Lord to show him his ways and to lead him in his paths and teach him the truth.
So I want to take that third theme, the theme of guidance, and use that as the lens through which we read this psalm, and the some of the other themes will come in as well. I want to just suggest five directions that this psalm gives us in thinking about personal guidance, how God guides us as his children, as his people. Five things, and I’m going to give this to you in the form of five exhortations, or five commands.
1. Fear the Lord
Here’s the first: Fear the Lord. The first thing this psalm has to teach us when it comes to guidance is the importance of fearing the Lord. I want to read once again verses 12-14, so kind of in the middle of the psalm.
“Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in wellbeing, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”
The fear of the Lord. What is the fear of the Lord? We know this language especially from wisdom literature. You have this phrase often in the book of Proverbs. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, the beginning of wisdom, Scripture tells us. What is the fear of the Lord?
Well, the fear of the Lord has been defined by Sinclair Ferguson in this way. He calls it “that indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy, and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what he has done for us.” It’s important that we distinguish fear of the Lord in Scripture from an unbiblical, ungodly kind of fear. We’re not talking about cowering in the presence of God, we’re not talking about terror at the presence of God; but we are thinking of reverence. We’re thinking of awe at the majesty of God. We’re thinking of reverence at the greatness of God. We’re thinking of that sense of godly fear that is true of all of those who have had a personal encounter with the true and the living God.
The mark of the person who fears the Lord, as you see in this psalm, is humility. It’s someone who is humble before the Lord. Just think about the great saints in Scripture who, when they encountered God, how they responded. Remember when Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in that throne room vision in Isaiah 6, and when he saw the glory of the Lord, his train filling the temple; and when he heard the seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” you remember what Isaiah did? He said, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” He recognized his need for cleansing. It humbled him in the presence of God.
You see the same thing with Job and with other people in Scripture when they encounter God. This is what we mean by the fear of the Lord; we mean this awe in the presence of God.
What’s interesting about Psalm 25 is how the fear of the Lord relates to those who know God and those who know the way of God. Notice this again in verse 12. “Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.” That verse is telling us that God leads those who fear him, he instructs those who fear him.
This is true for all who fear the Lord. Those who fear the Lord, men and women, boys and girls, if they fear him the Lord instructs them in the way that he should choose.
This leads to flourishing in their lives. Look at verse 13. “His soul shall abide in wellbeing, and his offspring shall inherit the land.” This is generally true in our lives, that when we fear the Lord and when we walk with the Lord and obey the Lord, it leads to flourishing in our lives. That doesn’t exempt us from suffering, and we know that even from this psalm, where David is crying out in the midst of suffering. But there is an internal flourishing and a flourishing in many of our relationships, many aspects of our lives, when we fear the Lord.
Notice this also in verse 14. It says, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.” This carries the idea of being brought into the counsel of God, being in a close relationship with God, so that God shares his counsel with us, that he leads us, he includes us, he directs us. So the very first step to guidance is to fear the Lord.
Don’t expect that God is going to guide you and direct you and reveal himself to you if you don’t fear him. God isn’t a genie in a bottle that we just rub the lamp and expect to get our three wishes. No, we are relating to the Creator God, the true and the living God, to a holy God, to a God of majesty and of transcendence. It’s only when we fear him, only when we get to know him as he really is, that we can then begin to receive his guidance.
J.I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, has given a great illustration. It’s stuck with me ever since I first read it. He talks about two different kinds of knowledge of God, and he compares it to two sorts of people in a Spanish mansion, a Spanish veranda that’s by the side of the road. He said there are travelers who are walking this road, and you know, they stay at the little mansion, the veranda, overnight, but they’re travelers on the road. They’re walking the road.
On the other hand, there are people sitting on the balcony, and they know something about the road. They debate which way the road will go, they may even debate whether there really is a road—I mean, they’re theoretically talking about the road, but they don’t really know the road in the way that the travelers do. The travelers are those who are actually walking the steps along the path, along the road.
He says that this illustrates two different ways of knowing God. We can know about God, where we have knowledge of the doctrine; we have some of the theology, we theoretically talk about God; but that’s very different than actually knowing God as he is. It’s this kind of knowledge of God, this fear of the Lord, that we’re after, and that we so desperately need in our lives. So this is the first step in guidance; it’s to fear the Lord.
2. Learn His Truth
Here’s the second: Learn his truth. Fear the Lord and learn his truth. Look at verses 4-5. The psalmist says, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. For you I wait all the day long.” Then drop down to verses 8-9. “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way.”
Do you notice how many times those verses use that word “way” and the companion word “paths”? Ways and paths. This connects us to Tremper Longman calls the “two ways” theology in Scripture. This is very common, especially in wisdom literature. You see this all over the place in the book of Proverbs. You also see it in another wisdom psalm, the very first psalm, Psalm 1, that contrasts the way of the righteous with the way of the wicked. There are these two ways, these two paths, two different ways of living that lead to two different destinations.
Even Jesus uses this language in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:13-14, when he says we are to enter by the straight gate, “for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
This is just foundational to our understanding of wisdom in life, and then the tactical aspects of guidance. How do we make decisions about which path to follow? Well, you have to be headed the right way. You have to be on the way of righteousness, the way that leads to life. That’s what the psalmist is praying for. He’s saying, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”
Then he goes on to say that the Lord, because he’s good and upright, he instructs sinners in the way and he teaches the humble his way. So again, there’s a disposition of heart (which is what it means to fear the Lord, it’s to be humble before him), and those who fear the Lord, those who are humble before the Lord, the Lord teaches his way.
Now, notice something else here, and that’s the strong emphasis in this psalm on the role of truth, on teaching and instruction, and on learning. You see that in several of the key words in these four verses. In verse 4, “Teach me your paths.” In verse 5, “Lead me in your truth and teach me.” In verse 8, “He instructs sinners in the way.” And in verse 9, “He teaches the humble his way.”
This again connects us to other wisdom psalms that have such an emphasis on the law of the Lord, the word of the Lord. Think of Psalm 1, Psalm 19, Psalm 119. All of these psalms, and many other places in Scripture, are showing us the importance of the objectively revealed word of God, the truth of God, and the way God uses his word as the instrument, as the means to teach us.
That’s why I say it is so important for us to learn his truth. If you want to know the will of God for your life, you’re never going to understand God’s will until you know his word. His will is revealed in his word, and the very first step in our lives to knowing and to following God’s will and to receiving God’s guidance is actually to follow the guidance that He’s already given by knowing his word.
There’s a great illustration of this in C.S. Lewis’s Narnian story The Silver Chair. In The Silver Chair, Aslan, the Lion, gives a girl named Jill the task of seeking and finding the lost prince of Narnia, Prince Rilian. He gives her four signs, and he tells her that these signs will guide her in her quest if she remembers them. But she remember them, and he tells her that she is to rehearse these signs. Every night she is to repeat these signs to herself. Aslan says, “Remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you awake in the morning, when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. Remember the signs and believe the signs; nothing else matters.”
Well, in the story Jill begins pretty well. She’s remembering the signs, she’s memorized them, she’s reminding herself of them. But she eventually begins to kind of leave off remembering the signs. She doesn’t keep rehearsing them, and then she begins to forget them, and they’re kind of out of memory. Then, when they come to some critical moment and she needs guidance, someone asks her, “Are you sure of the signs?”
She’s annoyed by the question. She’s cold and she’s tired and she retorts back to her companion, “Oh, come on. Bother the signs!” And then, sure enough, they end up in trouble. They end up in very dangerous situations. They face giants and cannibals and they end up locked in the underworld by the queen of the underworld, locked in this realm of darkness, where the queen tells them that there’s no Narnia, there’s no Overworld, there’s no sky, there’s no sun, there’s no Aslan. It’s only through Aslan’s intervention that they’re eventually, of course, set free.
But I think that’s a wonderful illustration of what happens for us. We hear it drilled into us over and over again: “You need a devotional life. You need to read your Bible. You need to memorize Scripture. You need to be in the word. You need to be learning.” Kind of like Jill with the signs, we do it fairly well for awhile, but when we get lazy and we begin to neglect it. Then, when we find ourselves in crisis, when someone asks a question, “How’s your devotional life?” we just want to say, “Bother with a devotional life! That doesn’t work; I’ve tried Bible reading, I’ve tried prayer. That’s not working. I’m in trouble.”
What we have done is we have neglected the very guidance that God has given us in his word. We need to pray this prayer and then apply it to our lives: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. For you I wait all the day long.” The Lord instructs us, but he instructs us through his word. If you want to know God’s guidance, get in his word.
3. Obey His Commands
Fear the Lord, learn his truth, and then (very closely related to this), obey his commands. This is number three. You see the note of obedience in verse ten. “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” So, keeping his covenant and his testimonies; that’s obedience. It means that we follow what he has told us, that we obey what he has commanded us.
Elisabeth Elliott, who’s written a lot on guidance, and of course she was the widow of Jim Elliott, that martyr missionary from the last century—Elisabeth Elliott said this. “Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience? Rest assured: do what God tells you to do now, and depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.” That so important. It’s so important for us to obey the commands of God. Not just knowing the truth, learning the truth, but also applying it, putting it to practice in our lives; obeying. This is always a first step in knowing the will of the Lord; it’s following what God has already revealed in his word.
Years ago, I read a little book by John MacArthur that was called Found: God’s Will. It’s a short little book, just 60-something pages and pretty simple, and essentially what John MacArthur does is he goes through some of the verses that say, “This is the will of the Lord.” He just shows that it’s the will of the Lord for us to be saved, it’s the will of the Lord for us to be filled with the Spirit, it’s the will of the Lord for us to live holy lives, to be sanctified, it’s the will of the Lord for us to be submissive to authority, and it’s the will of the Lord, often in our lives, for us to suffer for the name of Christ, a willingness to accept suffering in our lives. So these five things that are God’s will, and then he essentially says that if you’re during these five things, your heart is going to be shaped in such a way that you can then do what your heart desires to do, because if you’re filled with the Spirit you’re going to want the right things, and if you’re living a holy life you’ve going to be avoiding sin, and if you’re willing to suffer for Jesus you’re going to have kingdom priorities, and so on.
He uses this great illustration. He says, essentially, imagine trying to steer a stationary tractor truck, something that’s about 36,000 pounds, and you’re trying to steer it and move it, but it’s stationary. It’s not in motion at all. That’s really hard to do. He says you would have to have cranes to move this thing around. But once you set it in motion, once you get rolling, this truck weighing 36,000 pounds is not difficult to control.
The analogy is that once we get in motion obeying the commands of God, what God has clearly revealed to be his will in Scripture, to live holy lives, to be filled with his Spirit, to be submissive to authority, to be in a saving relationship with him, to be willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake, putting the interests of the kingdom above our own—once we’re doing that, it’s pretty easy for our lives to be steered in the right direction. So, fear the Lord, learn his truth, obey his commands. I have just two more, and then we’re done.
4. Ask for His Mercy
Number four: Ask for his mercy. I mentioned before that the prayer for forgiveness and pardon is one of the themes in this psalm. You see this in several places.
First of all, look at verses 6-7. He says, “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love…” Those two phrases, mercy and steadfast love, by the way, that’s covenant language from Exodus 34. “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.” Drop down to verse 11. “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great,” and then drop down to verse 18. “Consider my affliction and my trouble and forgive all my sins.”
I think those verses show not only that David, of course, in his time of distress was conscious of his sins and of his need for God’s pardon and his forgiveness and his mercy, but it shows us that a wise person, a person who fears the Lord, a humble person, a person who knows God, also has a growing self-awareness, a growing understanding of his or her sins and weaknesses. They practice regular self-examination and continual confession and repentance.
This is crucial for our spiritual lives. It’s crucial mainly because sin is what breaks our fellowship with God. Even for the believer, even for the person whose sins are definitively forgiven, they’re justified and their sins have been atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ—even for the believer, when we sin, the fellowship is broken and we lose the sense of God’s smile on our lives. To restore that fellowship, we must repent. It grieves the Holy Spirit when we sin. It hurts the heart of God. That’s the main reason we need to confess sin.
But we also need to confess sin because sin is an obstruction to guidance. I think that’s part of the connection here in this psalm. He’s praying for pardon and for forgiveness in the same breath in which he’s asking for God to guide him and to lead him and to teach him his truth.
Here’s how I think it happens. Sin distorts our vision. You might think of it like mud on your windshield. You’re driving your car, you’re going down the street, and you have mud on your windshield, or maybe it’s in the dead of winter here in Michigan and the snow is on your windshield, and you can’t see unless you turn on the windshield wipers and you begin to clear that field of vision.
I think in a very real way sin is like the snow or the mud on your windshield. It keeps you from seeing clearly the path in front of you, and unless you wipe that away, unless that sin is removed, you’re not able to see clearly. Therefore, both for our relationship with God but also practically for the sake of guidance and clarity and direction in our lives, we have to deal with sin.
Notice the basis of the forgiveness that we ask God for. The basis is God’s own character and his name. Three times in verses 6-7 the psalmist uses the word “remember.” He says, “Remember your mercy and your steadfast love…remember not the sins of my youth…and remember me for the sake of your goodness.” Notice how he just keeps appealing to the goodness of God, the mercy of God, the steadfast love of the Lord. He kind of combines all of those themes together in verse 11 when he says, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” He’s asking God to “remember me, but don’t remember my sins, and do it for your own sake.”
Dale Ralph Davis, in his chapter on Psalm 25 in one of this little volumes on the Psalms, he tells the story of a woman in a town in the Philippines who seemed to really know the Lord. She had an intimate walk with God, at least that’s what people said. So a local priest decided that he would test her.
He met her one day, and he said, “I want you, next time you’re in prayer, next time you seek the Lord, I want you to ask God what sin I committed when I was in seminary. If you really know God, then you should be able to tell me that sin.”
Well, later he met with the woman again, and he asked her the question, “Did you speak with him?”
She said, “Yes.”
He said, “Well, what did God say?”
This is what she said. She said, “The Lord said, ‘I don’t remember,’” because he doesn’t remember our sins; he remembers our sins no more.
Now, I don’t recommend what the priest did as an exercise in trying to determine whether somebody knows God, but there’s something right about what that woman said, and it accords with this prayer. The Lord remembers his mercy, he remembers not the sins of our youth, and he remembers us; and he does it all for the sake of his mercy, his goodness, his steadfast love, for the sake of his name.
Listen, if you want to know God’s guidance, if you want to know God’s will, if you want to walk with God, fear the Lord, learn his truth, obey his commands, and then ask for his mercy. Keep your sin account short, practice regular confession and repentance, get your conscience clear, so that you can see clearly, so that you can walk with God.
5. Wait for His Help
That leads us, finally, to number five. Number five is, wait for his help. In some ways, this is the dominant note of the psalm at the beginning and at the end with everything we’ve looked at so far kind of sandwiched between.
Look at the beginning verses of the psalm, verses 1-3. He says, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; O my God, in you I trust. Let me not be put to shame, let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame. They shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”
Then when you drop down to verse 5 there’s another use of this word “wait.” “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. For you I wait all the day long.”
Then, in verses 15-22, the word “wait” shows up again in verse 21, but you have kind of the whole posture of waiting described as the psalmist shoots up these prayers to the Lord. Notice here the situation he’s in. He’s in distress, and you’re going to see the note here on his stress, on his trouble, on his affliction, on his enemies; and yet, he’s turning to the Lord, he’s lifting his heart up to the Lord, he’s asking the Lord for mercy and for grace; he’s waiting on the Lord.
Look at this, starting in verse 15. He says, “My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble; forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes and with what violent hatred they hate me. O guard my soul and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”
Then he turns this psalm into a prayer for the whole nation of Israel. Verse 22, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”
Wait for his help. Wait for the Lord.
Now, a couple of things I just want you to notice about this before we’re done. Here’s the first: you should never think that walking with God, that fearing the Lord and even walking in God’s ways and walking in God’s will, you should never think that exempts you from trouble or from suffering or from problems in your life. This psalm, as well as many of the psalms we looked at in this series, show you that that’s just not the case. Often it is the case that those who know the Lord and who walk with the Lord still find themselves in trouble, they find themselves in distress, they find themselves in difficulty.
What characterizes those who walk with the Lord is not whether they’re in trouble or not, but what they do when they’re in trouble. What the psalmist does, what David does here, is he waits on the Lord. He looks to the Lord for help. He turns his eyes towards the Lord. It says, “My eyes are ever toward the Lord.” He has his eyes fixed on God. That’s what you and I must do as well.
Notice that there’s an assurance here in verse 3 that “none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” It’s a promise that if we wait on the Lord, the Lord will help us. He will help us.
Probably the most helpful spiritual kind of reading that I’ve been doing lately has been in a little volume called Thomas Charles’ Spiritual Counsels. These are essentially essays and letters, papers that are collected from a Welsh minister from the 18th century. Thomas Charles was one of the favorite Welsh preachers of Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, of course, was Welsh as well), and Thomas Charles spent some time in apprenticeship with John Newton, that British 18th-century pastor and the author of “Amazing Grace.”
Somehow I came across Thomas Charles and bought this book here recently, and I’ve been reading it. There was a wonderful chapter on divine guidance that in some ways prompted this sermon and got me thinking. Thomas Charles said something about waiting that I think is very helpful. He’s talking here about how the children of Israel followed the cloud in the wilderness. They would have to wait for the cloud to move. So that’s the reference.
He says, “What we are in continual danger of in following the cloud of divine presence moving among us is impatience, the bitter fruit of unbelief. Patient waiting is always the language of faith.”
Indeed, if you read through the Psalms, you’re going to find this language again and again and again. Wait on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord. What does that mean? It means that we quiet our hearts before him, it means that we seek him. Waiting is not a passive thing, it’s an active thing. It’s not inactive, it’s active. It means that there’s diligence as we look to the Lord and as we seek him and as we use the means of grace. It means that we are hoping in the Lord. But it means that we’re waiting for him before we make decisions, and especially that we beware of rash decisions.
That’s part of receiving God’s guidance, is learning to wait on him. Now, that follows everything else we’ve talked about, including learning his truth and obeying his commands. There’s a lot that God has already revealed; we should put it into practice. But in those big decisions in our lives when we’re waiting for God’s providence to guide us, many things for us to consider, but one of the things we must do is wait on the Lord in prayer and we seek his face and we ask for him to lead.
So, if you want to know the will of God, if you want to walk in God’s ways in your life, these are the steps: Fear the Lord, learn his truth, obey his commands, ask for his mercy, and then wait for his help.
In conclusion, let me read this prayer to you from St. Patrick, the well-known apostle to Ireland, as he was known, missionary to Ireland, many centuries ago. St. Patrick said,
“I will arise today through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me.”
Our gracious, merciful God, we thank you that you are a God who leads your people, and that you direct your children, that you instruct sinners in the way they should go, that you lead the humble in what is right, that you reveal your ways to us, that you show us your paths. Lord, our prayer is that we would be characterized by the things of this psalm, that we would fear you, and that we would know you in a deep and real way, that we would know you through your word by learning your truths from Scripture, by obeying your commands.
Lord, as we walk with you we grow more conscious of our failures, of our sins, and so we do seek for your forgiveness, your pardon. We pray that you would pardon our guilt and that you would do it for your name’s sake; not because of anything in us, but because of who you are, because of your mercy and because of your steadfast love. Lord, we look to you, and I’m sure that those who are watching this service tonight, every individual is looking to you for something, looking to you for unique and different things. Maybe it’s guidance in a job decision, maybe it’s guidance about which school to go to, maybe it’s some kind of guidance we need related to our children, to our families, or to health concerns, or to financial issues, or to church-related issues. There are so many decisions we have to make; daily we are confronted with new decisions. We want to make decisions that please you, we want to walk with you, we want to walk in your ways. So we ask for your help, and we wait upon you, we look to you, Lord. May our eyes ever be fixed on you, as were the eyes of the psalmist, and may we know that you are with us and that you are guiding us.
Lord, we pray for ourselves as individuals, we pray for our church, for Redeemer Church, and especially in these times in which we live as we seek to reopen our church; give guidance, especially to our elder team, our leadership team. Lord, help us to please you and to love your people in all that we say and do. We pray this in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.