World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary


Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

give me an undivided heart to revere your name.


I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.


For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.


Select a resource above

11. Show me thy ways, O Jehovah! David now rises higher, praying that he may be governed by the spirit of sound understanding, in order to his living a holy life, and that he may be strengthened in his endeavors thereto by the spirit of fortitude. He tacitly contrasts the ways of God with all the counsels which he could derive from carnal reason. In submitting himself to God, and in imploring Him to be his guide, he confesses that the only possible way by which we can be enabled to live a holy and an upright life is, when God goes before us, while we follow after him; and, accordingly, that those who deviate, let it be never so little, from the law through a proud conceit of their own wisdom, wander from the right path. This he more fully confirms, by adding immediately after, I will walk in thy truth. He pronounces all to be guilty of vanity and lying who observe not this rule of truth. Farther, his prayer to be taught in the ways of the Lord does not imply that he had been previously altogether ignorant of divine truth; but well aware of the much darkness — of the many clouds of ignorance in which he was still enveloped, he aspires after greater improvement. Let it also be observed, that he is not to be understood as speaking only of external teaching: but having the law among his hands, he prays for the inward light of the Holy Spirit, that he may not labor in the unprofitable task of learning only the letter; according as he prays in another place,

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” (Psalm 119:18.)

If a prophet so distinguished, and so richly endued with the graces of the Holy Spirit, makes such a frank and cordial confession of his own ignorance, how great our folly if we feel not our own deficiency, and are not stirred up to greater diligence in self-improvement from the knowledge of our slender attainments! And, assuredly, the more progress a man has made in the knowledge of the true religion, the more sensible will he be that he is far from the mark. Secondly, it is necessary to add, that reading or hearing is not enough, unless God impart to us inward light by his Spirit.

In addition to this, the Psalmist desires that his heart may be framed for yielding obedience to God, and that it may be firmly established therein; for as our understanding has need of light, so has our will of uprightness. The original words which I have translated, unite my heart, are translated by some, rejoice my heart, as if the verb were from the root, חדה, chadah, to rejoice; 486486     “This verse has been considered, with great probability, as a prediction of the calling of the Gentiles under the messiah. See Romans 15:9.” — Warner. but it rather comes from יחד, yachad, to unite — a sense which is very suitable to the passage before us. 487487     The reading of the LXX. is, “Let my heart rejoice,” with which the Syriac agrees; and this sense is adopted by several critics, as Muis, Dr Durell, and others. This word contains a tacit contrast, which has not been sufficiently attended to, between the unwavering purpose with which the heart of man cleaves to God when it is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the disquietude with which it is distracted and tossed so long as it fluctuates amidst its own affections. It is therefore indispensably requisite, that the faithful, after having learned what is right, should firmly and cordially embrace it, that the heart may not break forth in impetuous desire after unhallowed lusts. Thus, in the word unite, there is a very beautiful metaphor, conveying the idea, that the heart of man is full of tumult, drawn asunder, and, as it were, scattered about in fragments, until God has gathered it to himself, and holds it together in a state of steadfast and persevering obedience. From this also, it is manifest what free will is able to do of itself. Two powers are ascribed to it; but David confesses that he is destitute of both; setting the light of the Holy Spirit in opposition to the blindness of his own mind; and affirming that uprightness of heart is entirely the gift of God.

12. I will praise thee, O Lord my God! David engages, when he shall have experienced God to be in all respects a beneficent father, to yield to him the tribute of gratitude. He expressed in the preceding verse a desire to have his heart united to God, that he might fear him; and now he affirms it to be his resolution to publish or celebrate his praises, not only with the mouth or tongue, but also with sincere affection of heart; yea, even to continue with steadfast perseverance in that exercise.

In the 13th verse, he sets forth the reason of this, which is, because, in delivering him, God had given a singular and remarkable proof of his mercy. To place in a stronger light the greatness of this benefit, he describes the dangers from which he had been delivered, by the expression, the lower grave; as if he had said, I have not been held down by one death only, but have been thrust down into the lowest depths of the grave, so that my circumstances required the hand of God to be stretched out to me in a wonderful manner. By the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we are delivered from a still deeper abyss of death; and such being the case, our ingratitude will be inexcusable, unless each of us exercise himself to the utmost of his power in celebrating this deliverance. If David so highly magnified the name of God merely on account of the prolongation of his life for a short time, what praises are due for this unparalleled redemption by which we are drawn from the depths of hell and elevated to heaven? The Papists attempt to found an argument on this passage in support of their doctrine of Purgatory, as if that were an upper hell, while there was another lower; 490490     Street reads, “That those who hate me may fear. The word יראו,” he observes, “if considered without the points, may be the third person plural of ירא, to fear; but the authors of all the versions seem to have derived it from ראה, to see I read לטובך instead of לטובה.” but this argument is too rotten to stand in need of refutation.