A prayer for guidance
Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
The God of the Bible is a God who reveals Himself. He is not the God of the Deists, who imagine that God created the universe and then left it to run on its own. No, the God of the Bible is constantly intervening in His own creation; constantly warning, constantly advising, constantly comforting, constantly delivering. Indeed, the whole Bible is a record of God’s revelation of Himself to man.
And it is not just that He announces Himself on some national, political level. It’s true that God revealed Himself to Israel in sort of a national and political way. He dealt with Moses and Aaron who in turn dealt with Pharaoh for the release of the nation of Israel from slavery. But the God of the Bible is a God who deals with individuals. That is one thing that this psalm unquestionably teaches:
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.
The Christian life is necessarily a life lived in community, but God teaches, confides in and rewards individuals. We may learn in community, we may learn from community, and we are certainly called to serve the community. But in the final analysis, the state of a man’s heart is an inner, individual affair. We may tithe mint and rue, that is, we may be rigorous and energetic in charity, and yet our hearts be far from Him.
If God is one who reveals Himself, who confides in individuals and who rewards them, who would not want such a relationship – such communion? Answer: Lots of us. Rather than desiring communion with the loving and almighty God, we would prefer to have things our own way, thank you very much.
This psalm is clear and definitive on the point. Who gets guidance from God? The humble!
The meek [humble] he will guide in judgement; and the meek [humble] he will teach his way
The Lord confides in those who fear him
I have to be careful here. I don’t want to suggest that our salvation or our relationship with God is based on our own merit. All is of grace. All is of God’s initiation. All is of God’s doing:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it isthe gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Maybe the point here is simply to think about what humility actually is. It’s easy for us to make mistakes here. Some equate humility with modesty. That the humble man is an “aw shucks” kind of guy who is always putting himself down. But humility isn’t that. CS Lewis said that it is the most attractive of virtues: If you’ve ever been around anyone who is truly humble, it is like having a drink of cool water in the desert. Here is Lewis:
He [God] wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself. If I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief and comfort of taking the fancy-dress off–getting rid of the false self, with all its “Look at me” and “Aren’t I a good boy?” and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in the desert