We need no instruction in the way of sin. That has been our way, ever since Adam "sought out his own invention." The ungodly "desire no knowledge of the way of God's statutes." The heart leads the judgment, and "their heart is enmity to the law of God." But for a child of God, this is a prayer for constant use. The outward revelation is of no avail without the inward teaching. The Divine Instructor must interpret and apply His own rule. However plain the word may be, the darkness must be removed from the understanding. Light will not show an object, except the faculty of sight be given. A blind man cannot see at noonday. We know nothing spiritually, except as we are taught of God. The more we are taught, the more we feel our need of teaching, and the more pressing will be our cries for this invaluable blessing. The blind man must be led in the plainest and most direct, as well as in the more difficult and rugged paths. And thus do we need the shining of light from above—not only in the "deep things of God"—but for the reception of the most elementary truths. And yet we want not this knowledge for its own sake—to feed pride or speculation—but for its practical influence. For of what avail is the discovery even of important truth, if we be not molded into its likeness, and constrained "into the obedience of faith?" The connection of every thought with Christian practice, here directed to its proper end, is a most striking proof of the Divine origin of the statutes. The most clear instructions for the regulation of our conduct flow from single sentences or expressions in these "statutes;" and this clearly proves an infinite wisdom in their distribution, a reference in the eternal mind to every detail of practical duty, and a Divine power and unction, applying the word to the several circumstances of daily conduct. For, indeed, what mind but the mind of God could have comprehended in so small a compass such a vast system of instruction? In this view, therefore, the Lord's teaching becomes the spring of obedience. For how can we "keep" a way, which we do not understand? And who was ever "taught the way of the Lord's statutes," who had not his heart constrained and directed by their spiritual beauty and sweetness? In this path we realize union with the Savior; "the love of God is perfected in us;" and our confidence is established before God.
The object nearest to the believer's heart, and which causes him many an anxious—and too often many an unbelieving thought—is the grace of perseverance. Now the Lord's teaching is the principle of perseverance. It is "the light of life," enlightening the mind, and quickening the heart. Under this influence, therefore, we live—we endure—we cannot fail of keeping the way unto the end. Thus the end crowns the work. For with this blessing of perseverance, is sealed to us the hope of victory over our spiritual enemies, and the participation of our Savior's glory. Confidence, indeed, without prayer and dependence upon our glorious Head, is most daring presumption. But that "well-ordered and sure covenant," which "is all our salvation, and all our desire," engages for our continuance in "the way of the Lord's statutes." "I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
"Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes." Childlike, blessed words, from the lips of an old, experienced believer, and he a king, and a man inspired of God. Alas for those who will never be taught! They dote upon their own wisdom; but their folly is apparent to all who rightly judge. The Psalmist desires to have the Lord for his teacher; for he feels that his heart will not learn of any less effectual instructor. A sense of great slowness to learn drives us to seek a great teacher. What condescension it is on our great Jehovah's part that he deigns to teach those who seek him! The lesson which is desired is thoroughly practical; the holy man would not only learn the statutes, but the way of them, the daily use of them, their tenor, spirit, direction, habit, tendency. He would know that path of holiness which is hedged in by divine law, along which the commands of the Lord stand as sign-posts of direction, and milestones of information, guiding and marking our progress. The very desire to learn this way is in itself an assurance that we shall be taught therein; for he who made us long to learn will be sure to gratify the desire.
"And I shall keep it unto the end." Those who are taught of God never forget their lessons. When divine grace sets a man in the true way, he will be true to it. Mere human wit and will have no such enduring influence: there is an end to all perfection of the flesh, but there is no end to heavenly grace except its own end, which is the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord. Perseverance to the end is most certainly to be predicted of those whose beginning is in God, and with God, and by God; but those who commence without the Lord's teaching soon forget what they learn, and start aside from the way upon which they professed to have entered. No one may boast that he will hold on his way in his own strength, for that must depend upon the continual teaching of the Lord: we shall fall like Peter, if we presume on our own firmness, as he did. If God keeps us we shall keep his way; and it is a great comfort to know that it is the way with God to keep the feet of his saints. Yet we are to watch as if our keeping of the way depended wholly on ourselves: for, according to this verse, our perseverance rests not on any force or compulsion, but on the teaching of the Lord, and assuredly teaching, whoever be the teacher, requires learning on the part of the taught one: no one can teach a man who refuses to learn. Earnestly, then, let us drink in divine instruction, that so we may hold fast our integrity, and to life's latest hour follow on in the path of uprightness! If we receive the living and incorruptible seed of the word of God we must live: apart from this we have no life eternal, but only a name to live. The "end" of which David speaks is the end of life, or the fullness of obedience. He trusted in grace to make him faithful to the utmost, never drawing a line and saying to obedience, "Hitherto shall you come, but no further." The end of our keeping the law will come only when we cease to breathe; no good man will think of marking a date and saying, "It is enough, I may now relax my watch, and live after the manner of men." As Christ loves us to the end, so must we serve him to the end. The end of divine teaching is that we may persevere to the end.
The portions of eight show a relationship still. Gimel begins with prayer for life, that he may keep the word (17); Daleth cries for more life, according to that word (25); and now He opens with a prayer for teaching, that the man of God may keep the way of God's statutes. If a keen eye is turned upon these verses a closer affinity will be discerned.