We are equally ignorant of the path of God's commandments, and impotent to go in it. We need therefore double assistance. Our mind must be enlightened; our hearts constrained; else our knowledge of this humbling path would make us shrink from it. But under the complete influence of Divine grace, when understanding has been given to discern the beauty of it, the soul's warmest desire is fixed upon it. Conscious helplessness looks upward—Make me to go: and He who said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house," speaks the same word of quickening life and power to the soul "giving heed," "expecting to receive something of Him." It is delightful to acknowledge of this work, that "all is of God"—that "it is He who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." To him only can it belong. For since the natural inclination "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Almighty power must introduce a new and active bias, "Turn me, and I shall be turned." "Make me to go in the path of Your commandments."
But even when brought into this path, still we need accelerated motion to run with increasing alacrity. We need to take "the Lord God for our strength; and He shall make our feet like hinds' feet, and He shall make us to walk upon the high places." The path, indeed, is uninviting to the eye of sense. This distorted vision brings all its difficulties into full view; hiding all its counter-balancing enjoyments. Let us, however, exercise that "faith," which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Let us exhibit our proper character, "walking by faith, and not by sight," and our discernment of unseen things will be more clear, and our enjoyment of them more permanent. The prayer will then be with increasing earnestness, "Make me to go in the path of Your commandments."
But we must not be content with walking in this way; we must seek to "delight in it." Delight is the marrow of religion. "God loves a cheerful giver," and accepts obedience, only when it is given, not when it is forced. He loves the service of that man, who considers it his highest privilege to render it, and whose heart rejoices in the way, "as a giant to run his race." Fervent prayer and cheerful obedience mark the experience of the thriving Christian. As a true "child of Zion, he is joyful in his king;" he loves His service, and counts it "perfect freedom"—the rule of love, mercy, and grace.
But is the self-condemned penitent distressed by this description of a child of God? He cannot find the same marks in himself; and he too hastily concludes, that he does not belong to the heavenly family; not considering, that his very grief is caused by his love to, and "delight in" that way in which he is so hindered, and in which he daily prays, "Make me to go." It was, probably, the same sense of weakness and inability, "to go in the path of God's commandments," which urged David's prayer; and if it urges yours, poor trembling penitent—if it sends you to a throne of grace, you will, before long, receive an answer of peace, and "go on your way rejoicing."
This delight in the path is not only following the "man after God's own heart;" but it is the image of David's Lord, and our forerunner in this path. He could testify to His Father, "I delight to do Your will, O My God;" and to His disciples, "I have meat to eat that you know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." And as a proof of the intenseness of His delight he could, to their great amazement, "go before them" to Jerusalem, unappalled by the "baptism" of blood which awaited Him; yes, even "straitened" with the unquenchable ardor of His love, "until it was accomplished."
"To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." You have made me to love the way, now make me to move in it. It is a plain path, which others are treading through your grace; I see it and admire it; cause me to travel in it This is the cry of a child that longs to walk, but is too feeble; of a pilgrim who is exhausted, yet pants to be on the march; of a lame man who pines to be able to run. It is a blessed thing to delight in holiness; and surely he who gave us this delight will work in us the yet higher joy of possessing and practicing it Here is our only hope; for we shall not go in the narrow path until we are made to do so by the Maker's own power. O you who did once make me, I pray you make me again: you have made me to know; now make me to go! Certainly I shall never be happy until I do, for my sole delight lies in walking according to your bidding.
The Psalmist does not ask the Lord to do for him what he ought to do for himself: he wishes himself to "go" or tread in the path of the command. He asks not to be carried while he lies passive; but to be made "to go." Grace does not treat us as stocks and stones, to be dragged by horses or engines, but as creatures endowed with life, reason, will, and active powers, who are willing and able to go of themselves if once made to do so. God works in us, but it is that we may both will and do according to his good pleasure. The holiness we seek after is not a forced compliance with command, but the indulgence of a wholehearted passion for goodness, such as shall conform our life to the will of the Lord. Can the reader say, "therein do I delight"? Is practical godliness the very jewel of your soul, the coveted prize of your mind? If so, the outward path of life, however rough, will be clean, and lead the soul upward to delight ineffable. He who delights in the law should not doubt but what he will be enabled to run in its ways; for where the heart already finds its joy, the feet are sure to follow.
Note that the corresponding verse in the former eight (35) was, "Make me to understand"; and here we have, "Make me to go." Remark the order: first understanding, and then going; for a clear understanding is a great assistance towards practical action.
During the last few octaves the fourth has been the heart verse: see 20, 28, and now 36. Indeed, in all the preceding fourths great heartiness is observable. This also marks the care with which this sacred song was composed.