A beautiful description of the "simplicity and godly sincerity" of the believer's "walk with God!" He spreads his whole case before his God, "declaring his ways" of sinfulness, of difficulty, and of conduct. And, indeed, it is our privilege to acquaint our Father with all our care and need, that we may be pitied by His love, and guided by His counsel, and confirmed by His strength. Who would not find relief by unbosoming himself to his Father? This showing of ourselves to God—declaring our ways of sin before Him without deceit—is the short and sure way of rest.
"You heard me." "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long." While the voice of ingenuous confession was suppressed, cries and lamentations were disregarded. It was not the voice of the penitent child; and, therefore, "where was the sounding of his father's affections, and of his mercies towards him?" But now, on the first utterance of confession from his lips, or rather on the first purpose of contrition formed in his heart; "while he is yet speaking," the full and free pardon, which had been signed in heaven, comes down with royal parental love to his soul, "I said, I will confess my transgression to the Lord; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin."
Oh! what cannot he testify of the more than parental tenderness, with which "his transgression is forgiven, and his sin covered!" And yet, how necessary to the free declaration of our ways is an acquaintance with the way of forgiveness! Had not our great "High Priest passed into the heavens," how awful would have been the thought, that all things were "naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do!" We could only then have "covered our transgressions as Adam, by hiding our iniquity in our bosom." But now, even though "our ways" are so defiled, so crooked that we cannot but "abhor ourselves," on account of them, we are yet encouraged "boldly" to "declare" them all before God, with the assurance of finding present acceptance, and seasonable grace.
And now, having found the happy fruit of this sincere and child-like spirit, then follows the obligation of walking worthy of this mercy. Hence our need of the prayer for continual teaching. The same heavenly guidance, that brought us into the way of return, we need for every successive step to the end, "Teach me Your way, O Lord: I will walk in Your truth." "I have declared my" ignorance, my sinfulness, and my whole experience before You, looking for Your pardoning mercy, Your teaching Spirit, and assisting grace, "And You have heard me." O continue to me what You have been, and teach me more of Yourself!
The hypocrite may pray after this manner. But he never thus opens his heart, and "declares his ways" beneath his God. And are we sincere in our dealings with Him? How often do we treat our Almighty Friend as if we were weary of dealing with Him! And even when we do "declare our ways" before Him, are we not often content to leave the result as a matter of uncertainty? We do not watch for the answer to our prayer. It will come in the diligent exercise of faith, but not perhaps in our way. We may have asked for temporal blessings, and we receive spiritual. We may have "besought" deliverance from trial, and we receive "grace sufficient" to bear it. But this is the Lord's wise and gracious answer—You heard me. And how sweet are those mercies, which come to us manifestly marked with this inscription, "Received by prayer!" They are such encouragement to pray again. It is not our inevitable weakness, nor our lamented dullness, nor our abhorred wanderings, nor our opposed distractions, nor our mistaken unbelief; it is not any—no, nor all these—that can shut out prayer. If "iniquity" is not "regarded in our heart," we may always hear our Savior's voice, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have you asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full."
"I have declared my ways." Open confession is good for the soul. Nothing brings more ease and more life to a man than a frank acknowledgment of the evil which has caused the sorrow and the lethargy. Such a declaration proves that the man knows his own condition, and is no longer blinded by pride. Our confessions are not meant to make God know our sins, but to make us know them. "And you heard me." His confession had been accepted; it was not lost labor; God had drawn near to him in it We ought never to go from a duty until we have been accepted in it. Pardon follows upon penitent confession, and David felt that he had obtained it. It is God's way to forgive our sinful way when we from our hearts confess the wrong.
"Teach me your statutes." Being truly sorry for his fault, and having obtained full forgiveness, he is anxious to avoid offending again, and hence he begs to be taught obedience. He was not willing to sin through ignorance, he wished to know all the mind of God by being taught it by the best of teachers. He pined after holiness. Justified men always long to be sanctified. When God forgives our sins we are all the more fearful of sinning again. Mercy, which pardons transgression, sets us longing for grace which prevents transgression. We may boldly ask for more when God has given us much; he who has cashed out the past stain will not refuse that which will preserve us from present and future defilement. This cry for teaching is frequent in the Psalm; in verse 12 it followed a sight of God, here it follows from a sight of self. Every experience should lead us thus to plead with God.