“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” Psalm 86:11 (NASB95)
Recently, this verse struck me in my morning quiet time. Essentially, this is a prayer/psalm of David where he makes several requests of the Lord. Hear and answer me, O Lord (v.1); “Preserve my soul” (v.2); “Be gracious to me” (v.3), etc. He also observes essential characteristics about the Lord. “You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive” (v.5); You are trustworthy to answer me (v.7); You are great and do wondrous deeds, You alone are God (v.10).
These things, while not unusual in the Psalms, underscore the nature and confidence of the prayer. We ask of God because He alone is able and willing to provide, and we have confidence of this since what God does emanates from who He is.
The central focus of David’s petition is captured in verse 11:
- “Teach me…” God, even though I know you and of you I don’t yet KNOW you.
- “…Your way,” We don’t need God to bless our way but to show us His way so that we will align to it. The idea of “the way” is that of a journey rather than a destination. Our life in Christ is one of movement, discovery, and alignment of our will (which is evidenced by our action) to His.
- “I will walk in Your truth.” One cannot simply ask God to share His proposal for our lives so we can examine and determine if we will follow. Prayer begins with a heart of surrender to whatever God will do based on faith in His person and character. Stated differently, prayer begins with signing a blank check to God.
- “Unite my heart to fear your name.” The NIV says, “Give me an undivided heart…” Both translations capture the essence of the verse. David recognized that his heart can become conflicted within itself. In Jewish thought (the context of the verse), the “heart” was the locus of emotion, will, reason, etc. It is the “engine” that propels us.
David recognized what we sometimes overlook: our emotions often conflict with our will or our sense of reason. These three powerful forces can become divided in their interests and concerns. We can become driven by emotion or captive to our logic or so strong-willed that we listen to no one. His prayer is that God would UNITE his heart. “God… help me to maintain the appropriate tension between these powerful draws. IN fact, O God, take over when I am blowing it!”
Why ask God to steer our hearts properly…to keep us from losing balance or becoming driven by out of control emotions, logic/reason, or willfulness? Simply…so that we will fear the name of God.
This fear speaks of reverence or honor but we often work too hard to distance ourselves from fear (as in afraid). David recognized God’s awesome person and power, His mercy and graciousness. But He also recognized God’s holiness and resolute nature that would not be altered and will not permit His name to be tainted by sin. David prayed that his heart be united so that he might live submitted to the person and will of God…fearing the name of the Lord.
Rightly understood, we OUGHT to fear the Lord, as demonstrated in walking in His way. Our hearts can become easily divided in that pursuit; therefore, we ought to depend on the Lord to cause them to be united. We know what that is, as we learn more and experience more of God’s person in the journey of life with Him. Shalom.