Teach me to do your will; for you are my God: your spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
I. THE SUPREME AIM OF THE DEVOUT SOUL. The tempest blows him to the throne of God; and when he is there, what does he ask? Deliverance? Scarcely. In one clause, and again at the end, as if by a kind of after-thought, he asks for the removal of the calamities. But the main burden of his prayer is for a closer knowledge of God, the sound of His lovingkindness in his inward ear, light to show him the way wherein he should walk, and the sweet sunshine of God's face upon his heart. There is a better thing to ask than exemption from sorrows, even grace to bear them rightly. The river of the water of life that proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb is not sent merely to refresh thirsty lips and to bring music into the silence of a waterless desert, but it is sent to drive the wheels of life. Action, not thought, is the end of God's revelation and the perfecting of man.
II. THE DIVINE TEACHING AND TOUCH WHICH ARE REQUIRED FOR THIS CONFORMITY. The psalmist betakes himself to prayer because he knows that of himself he cannot bring his will into this attitude of harmonious submission. And his prayer for "teaching" is deepened in the second clause of our text into a petition which sets the felt need and the coveted help in a still more striking light, in its cry for the touch of God's good spirit to guide, as by a hand grasping the psalmist's hand into the paths of obedience. You and I have Jesus Christ for our Teacher, the answer to the psalm. His teaching is inward, and deep, and real, and answers to all the necessities of the case. We have His example to stand as our perfect law. He comes into our hearts, He moulds our wills, His teaching is by inward impulses and communications of desire and power to do, as well as of light to know. A law has been given which can give life. As the modeller will take a piece of wax into his hand, and by warmth and manipulation make it soft and pliable, so Jesus Christ, if we let Him, will take our hard hearts into His hands, and by gentle, loving, subtle touches, will shape them into the pattern of His own perfect beauty, and will mould all their vagrant inclinations and aberrant distortions into "one immortal feature of loveliness and perfection."
III. THE DIVINE GUARANTEE THAT THIS PRACTICAL CONFORMITY SHALL BE OURS. The psalmist pleads with God a double motive — His relation to us and His own perfectness. "Thou art my God; therefore teach me." "Thy Spirit is good; therefore lead me," etc. Note, then, first, God's personal relation to the devout soul as the guarantee that that soul shall be taught not merely to know, but also to do His will. If He be "my God," there can be no deeper desire in His heart than that His will should be my will. And so desiring, He does it, not from any masterfulness or love of dominion, but only from love to us. And, on the other hand, if we have taken Him for ours, and have the bond knit from our side as well as from His, then the fact of our faith gives us a claim on Him which He is sure to honour. The soul that can say, "I have taken Thee for mine," has a hold on God which God is only too glad to recognize and to vindicate. And whosoever, humbly trusting to that great Father in the heavens, feels that he belongs to God, and that God belongs to him, is warranted in saying, "Teach me, and make me to do Thy will," and in being confident of an answer. And there is the other plea with Him and guarantee for us, drawn from God's own moral character and perfectness. The last clause may either be read, "Thy Spirit is good; lead me," or "Let Thy good Spirit lead me." In either case the goodness of the Divine Spirit is the plea on which the prayer is grounded. The goodness here ,referred to is, as I take it, not merely beneficence and kindliness, but rather goodness in its broader and loftier sense of perfect moral purity. So that the thought just comes to this — we have the right to expect that we shall be made participant of the Divine nature. So sweet, to deep, so tender is the tie that knits a devout soul to God, that nothing short of conformity to the perfect purity of God can satisfy the aspirations of the creature or discharge the obligations of the Creator.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.