Psalm 32:8
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I. THE PLACE OF GUIDANCE. Unless we are able to see God's eye, we cannot be guided. What hinders? Our sins. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up" (Psalm 40:12). The great thing, therefore, is to confess our sins, that they may be put away, and then, "accepted in the Beloved," we can "look up with childlike trust, and cry, Abba, Father!"

II. THE MANNER OF GUIDANCE.

1. Authoritative. As master and servant (Psalm 123:2).

2. Kindly. Loving as a father, gentle as a mother (Jeremiah 24:6; Proverbs 4:3).

3. Sure. Moses knew the desert well, but he might err. He was glad, therefore, of the help of Hobab, "Thou mayest be to us instead of eyes" (Numbers 10:31). How much more surely may we depend upon God in our wilderness journey! "Except the eye of the Lord be put out, we cannot be put out of his sight and care" (Donne).

III. THE HAPPY RESULTS OF GUIDANCE.

1. Peace. We cannot guide ourselves; nor can we trust to others, even the wisest and the best, to guide us; but when we put ourselves under the care and direction of God, we feel that all is well (Jeremiah 10:23; Psalm 119:165).

2. Freedom. God does not take pleasure in "the bit and bridle." He would have us be guided through our reason and heart rather than by restraint and force. He works in us both "to will and to do." He makes us free by the truth, that our service may be not from fear, but love.

3. Courageousness. (2 Chronicles 20:12.) God's eye upon us is an inspiration. Gideon felt a new man when the Lord looked upon him (Judges 6:14). Paul had a heart for any fate when Christ stood by him in the storm (Acts 27:23). Stephen went to a cruel death with love and joy under the eye of his Master (Acts 7:56-60).

4. Hope. In humble, trustful self surrender and love we can go forward with confidence. God's eye upon us, and our eye upon God, we are safe for time and for eternity, - W.F.







I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.
— A teachable disposition is implied by the notable words, "I will guide thee with Mine eye." We lay great stress on these words. It is manifest that the eye of God can guide none but those who are diligently observing the lightest indications of His will. And the following verse contains a warning to them who are of an opposite disposition, who will yield only to harsh measures and severe discipline. A contrast is intended between those who would be guided by the eye, and those who required the bit and bridle. It is as much as to say — you have heard of those who are so blessed as to be led by God, even such as by watching His countenance catch from it the least signs of His will. Be not ye, then, careless and stubborn, resembling those beasts who need the rein and the muzzle, and whom nothing but force will keep in the right path. But let us consider the first of these expressions, "I will guide thee with Mine eye." Now this supposes great attentiveness on the part of those who are led, great desire to know the will of their Guide. See an affectionate child; he will gather his father's will not merely from his actual words, but from looks, tones, gestures; and when he cannot do much more than guess what that will is, he will act on what is likely, rather than excuse himself by the want of more distinct information. Now this is the disposition which God here approves. The party whom He would guide with His eye must be one who will search out the slightest hints, the briefest intimations, and will not demand in every case express categorical instructions. The Bible seems to be largely constructed on the principle that God would guide His Church with His eye, truths being often intimated rather than alarmed, left to be discerned by the attention, and not exposed to every cursory observer. Now apply this —

I. To SOME SUBJECTS ON WHICH WE ADMIT THAT FULL DIRECTIONS, PLAIN COMMANDS, ARE NOT GIVEN IN SCRIPTURE. To infant baptism, for example. From Christ's receiving of little children surely we may gather that it is the Lord's will that we should receive them thus into His kingdom. And to the observance of Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. And to Episcopacy as a form of Church government. Are there not hints, and indirect evidences on all these points which, while not sufficient for the hard, dogmatical temper — the worst in which we can read the Bible — are yet to him who desires above all things to do his Lord's will, sufficient to determine his judgment and to guide his conduct? Those who will yield to nothing but mathematical demonstrations may be likened to animals who must be ruled by bridle and bit. There is in Scripture much that is adapted for the management of the restive and stubborn; but its general character is that of a document designed for the docile and meek. Hence we shall miss much of its instruction if we yield only to the hand and will not follow the eye.

II. To THE TRUTH OF A PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE. Some deny, some ridicule, such a doctrine. It is easy to pour contempt upon it, and some of its advocates have, by their extravagance, almost justified such ridicule. But what is God's guiding us with His eye, but His indicating to us His will by means of the providential events, and these often the most common and ordinary, of our daily lives? There are times in almost every man's history at which he owns the workings of God, but if we believe in an universal Providence, and will be on the look-out for God's hand and will, we shall find in the events of everyday life as convincing proofs of the Divine working as though life were a series of miracles. He who is always noting the Divine providence will grow so used to its workings, as to be able, in a measure, to prepare for the future from what he has marked in the past and in the present. But this promise supposes us to be looking at the eye which is to guide us. It is not enough that that eye be fixed on us; our own eye must also be fixed on God: and it is only, so to speak, when the two eyes meet that we can gather instruction as to the way we should take. If God promised to guide us with His voice, we might not need to be so watchful. But we must be so if He is to guide us with His eye. We must be ever on the watch for the intimations of His will. If we are not we oblige Him to use harsh measures, and to compel our attention by something startling and severe. Much has been said about the language of the eye. Think for a moment of the look which our Lord cast upon Peter, and how much that said to him, and what an effect it had upon him. There are striking and startling events of God's providence, and they are His voice, but there are noiseless and more common ones and these are the glances of His eye. The former are as the shoutings of a foe to drive us from the wrong path, the latter as the leadings of a friend. And God desires to direct us by these rather than by the others. If He have recourse to stern methods it is only because gentler ones have failed. God doth not afflict willingly, but, alas! men are "born like the wild ass's colt," and a mere look will not tame them. Let us refuse to be guided by the eye, and it will be needful to be curbed by the hand. But even the glance of the eye may be terrible. The wicked at last will pray that the rocks and hills may fall upon them and hide them from its glance. Let us not so live that at the last it shall be lit up with anger, when now it seeks to guide us by its love.

(M. Melvill, B. D.)

I will guide thee with Mine eye:
Life is often called a journey; and with good reason. We set out with the freshness of youth; we pass the seasons like milestones on the road; and we are generally weary enough when we reach our journey's end. Every morning we enter as completely on the unknown as any traveller in an unexplored region; and, moreover, we are hastening to another country. We cannot wonder, therefore, at the universal longing for guidance. If we had merely to conduct the affairs of the present life, so as to make the best of it, and bring ourselves safely to the end of it, we should still desire a wisdom above our own to direct us. How much more, then, when another life comes in question, one for which this is merely a preparation! Every thought we think, every act we perform, should, with us, be determined not by the laws of this world, or only so far determined by the laws of this world as these are in accordance with those of that kingdom to which we belong. It is clear, then, that we, of all men, need guidance from our Leader above. And this guidance, so earnestly desired by us, so greatly needed by us, is promised. "I will guide thee with Mine eye." The idea conveyed would be one most familiar to David, as an Eastern monarch. As he sat in state, he was surrounded by a number of servants eager to do his bidding. Their eyes were constantly fixed on him; and when he wanted this or the other service done, there was scarcely need for him to speak. Each knew his post; the eye of each servant was dutifully fixed on his lord; and at a nod, or a sign, a turn of the eye, he flew to do the required service.

I. WHAT THIS GUIDANCE BY THE EYE IMPLIES ON GOD'S PART.

1. That His eye will always be upon us. This fact has, naturally, two sides to it: fear and dread for those whose lives are an act of rebellion against God, peace and comfort for those who love God, and whose wish it is to keep near His side through the dangers and perplexities of this troubled life.

2. That He will never expect a service on our part without a bidding on His part.

II. WHAT THIS GUIDING BY THE EYE OF GOD IMPLIES ON OUR PART.

1. That our eyes, our minds, our hearts, should be constantly fixed on God. We are perplexed as to the right way, but why? Have our eyes never wandered from God? May not He have been plainly telling us the way when our eyes were earthward instead of heavenward? and so, may we not, by our forgetfulness of Him, have missed the one sign, the one clue which would have made all our way plain?

2. But after all, you will say, we are but dealing in figures still. What, then, apart from figures, does this guidance by the eye of God practically mean?(1) Guidance from a distance. Tim time was, as you know, when God led His people by the hand. They saw the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, and they heard His voice in dreams and visions. But those times are passed. We are no longer led by the hand, in that sense; but guided, as from a distance, by the eye.(2) Guidance by the slightest signs and indications. Signs were all that the servant had to act upon who was guided by the eye of his lord; and since God has told us that He will guide us by His eye, by signs, which will require intelligence and thought on our part to interpret. God now treats us as men: we are no longer to be led by the hand, but guided by the eye. But when we pray for guidance, and wait in vain for an answer to our prayers, have we always remembered this? We pray that the way may be made quite plain, hedged up, as it were, so that there can be no room for doubt for us. We mean, in other words, that without the care and responsibility of choice, we should like the road to be made as clear to us as it is to the horse by the man who is riding him; and because this is not done for us, we say that God does not hear our prayers.

3. What are the signs by which God chooses to guide us His people now? They are, for the most part, undoubtedly, to be gathered from the study of His Word, and, above all, from imbibing His Spirit. I believe that a sincere Christian may take the events of life as signs from the eye of God; but he must do so with great care. Before a man is justified in taking any event or occurrence as a sign from God, he must be sure of three things: —(1) That he has asked for guidance.(2) That he has used his own intelligence and common-sense as far as it will go.(3) That he still needs guidance, i.e. that he is not merely looking for what he may persuade his conscience is a sign, in order that he may escape from some clear command of duty.

III. THE GUIDANCE MENTIONED IN OUR TEXT IS, IN A SENSE, OPTIONAL ON OUR PART, THOUGH THERE IS, OF COURSE, ALSO A SENSE IN WHICH GUIDANCE BY GOD IS INEVITABLE FOR ALL MEN. God offers us His love. He is anxious that we should look to Him as our Father. His will is that in every event of our life we should see a token of His love and care, a sign from His eye; but, if we will not do this, if we will have none of His reproof, if, instead of trusting Him, we rebel and murmur, then those very events which might have been signs to us of Fatherly care, will become as galling bits in our mouths, forcing us against our will. They will be as bridles over our heads, not guiding us where we would gladly go, but dragging us along the paths of just retribution. Can we hesitate which guidance we will accept, the guidance of law or of love, the guidance of brute or of children?

(W. F. Herbert.)

Human life is a most hazardous journey. It lies through difficult regions. Youth travels in "slippery places." Maturity is beset with snares. Age has its peculiar dangers. Our steps are dogged by enemies and surrounded with perils. This being so, the text is rich with encouragement and consolation. God guides us with the eye of —

I. DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE. The future is as plain to Him as the past to us, and He has ordained all in love.

II. CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS.

1. Direct. He never: loses sight of any one. No individual is missed in the crowd. No need, no trouble, and no sin can escape His eye.

2. Unceasing. He is never weary of looking down upon His people. Though He has seen frequent failure, the riches Of His long-suffering are not exhausted. Though He may have seen in us a sinful heart, an unwilling spirit, an unrestrained temper, a dissatisfied mind, a wandering path, a miserable service — a faithless discipleship, yet He watches over us still.

III. LOVING SYMPATHY. The master when he parts with a trusty apprentice does not forget him. He follows him with interest and affection all through his after life. His eye is upon him. The young man knows this, and it is one of the incentives to uprightness, and of his restraints from vice. In some sense the master guides him by his eye. In some feeble measure this represents our relation to our heavenly Father. He promises to guide us by His eye. We are to live, saying in our hearts, "Thou God seest me." We are to "endure as seeing Him who is invisible."

(F. W. Goadby, M. A.)

This seems rather a strange kind of promise to make, as we read it first; but when we begin to think over it, it does not seem quite so strange, for I am sure you know very well how to be guided with the eye. When you are doing something you are not quite sure about, and you look up at father, you can tell in a minute, can you not, by the look in his eye, whether he thinks you are doing right or not? So, you see, there are a thousand ways in which one can guide another by a glance of the eye, for the eye can speak as well as the tongue; it can speak of joy or fear, of pleasure or pain; it can encourage and it can threaten; it can whisper love or flash anger. The eye is a wonderful guide. But can we see God's eye? No; not just as I can see yours and you mine: but the text means that God will guide us by little things and in gentle ways, if we are willing to be guided and won't be stubborn like the mule. Thus by little things, and gently, would He guide us. Shouldn't we try, then, to understand these glances of God's eye, and what they mean, better and better, every day? How can we do that? There is but one way — by praying often; for when we pray, we are very near to God, and you know, the nearer you get to a person, and the oftener you get close to him, the better you begin to understand him — you can tell better and better what he means by every look. It is the same with God. If you would understand Him when He wants to guide you with His eye, you must often draw very near to Him by prayer.

(J. Reid Howatt.)

Homilist.
I. The way in which ALL men SHOULD BE controlled by God. "I will instruct thee and guide thee with Mine eye." This implies that men should be controlled —

1. Intelligently. For His "eye" to guide us we must have the power to watch and interpret it. God guides planets by His arm, brutes by blind impulse, intelligences by His look. How much meaning there often is in the human eye! — more than the richest vocabulary can express! How significant the look of God!

2. Readily. The mere look of God should be enough. We should not wait for words, not for whispers, still less for thunders. The attitude of the soul should be, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? ....:Here am I; send me."

3. Constantly. The eye of God is everywhere.

II. The way in which SOME men ARE controlled by God. "Be not as the horse," etc. These words imply that some men under the control of God act —

1. Irrationally. "Like the horse and the mule they have no understanding" — that is, no understanding as to the right way of life.

2. Fractiously. "Whose mouth must be held in," etc. Thus it is with wicked men; they oppose God; they are determined to have their own way, But God holds them in by force.

3. Dangerously. "Lest they come near unto thee." Wicked men are dangerous; they would ruin the world if God did not rein them in.

(Homilist.)

I. THIS ASSURANCE OF DIVINE COUNSEL AND GUIDANCE RESTS ON THE CONVICTION OF GOD'S NEARNESS TO US. So near is He that He can guide us with His eye. This truth is constantly asserted, but it is impossible for us to conceive how the eye of God is upon each individual amongst the millions of mankind. The conception is too great and high for us, for in and all around us are of but limited powers. Science comes to aid our faith here. The microscope shows us the myriad animalculae in each drop of water, but all perfect. To God, therefore, nothing is small. He is absolutely unlimited in faculty. And when we add on the idea that the nature of God is love, then we are led to think of each one being reflected in Him, not as on an impassive and unfeeling mirror, but as on the heart of God, who is love Say not, it is too good to be true. You need never be afraid of your conceptions of God outreaching the reality. They are more likely to fall short. And the thought of God's omniscience is not terrible to us except when we sin. And when we sin, the knowledge of the love we have grieved is the mightiest power to reclaim and restore us. For no earthly sorrow equals in intensity the sorrow of God over our sin.

II. THIS DIVINE KNOWLEDGE LEADS TO COUNSEL, TO GUIDANCE OF OUR LIFE. Where love is knowledge cannot be passive: it must serve its object. And so the parents' love and knowledge finds expression in the training of the home, or in the letters of loving counsel sent to the child. And it is so with God.

(W. G. Horder.)

We have many organs, but none so expressive as the eye; many languages, but none so eloquent as that of looks. But what they say can only be interpreted by affection. We guide strangers by the directing finger or the spoken word, and servants by commands, but friends by the eye. And these understand. Therefore this promise assures us that we are not servants, but friends. Of old God spake by Urim and Thummim; but now by His eye. And it is our fault, our wayward will, that hinders our being thus guided. But as rational and as redeemed men, the guiding invitation of the eye should suffice to rule us. And how gracious of our God to adopt this method with us. The Gospel is a guiding of us with the eye; our whole spiritual life is ruled and shaped by love. But, remember, if any will not be thus guided, God will hold them in with bit and bridle. "If you will be as beasts before Him, He will deal with you as with beasts:" the cold, sharp bit will be thrust between your teeth, and the lash not spared.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

"A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back," is the pithy sentence of the Book of Proverbs. It describes the method by which God distinctly seeks not to rule us, if He can help it, but which we are constantly compelling Him to employ by wilful and determined sin. It is a deep pain to a wise and generous man to govern children or guide the State by fear. "I will have no state of siege. Any one can rule in a state of siege," said Cavour. How earnestly great teachers — men with the lofty faculty of head-masters like Dr. Arnold — strive to establish a nobler chain of influences than terror can generate, and to bring warm, generous young hearts into such vivid sympathy with their own natures that they can guide them with the eye. It is the principle of our Lord's words. "Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends."

I. GOD IS THE INSTRUCTOR AND GUIDE OF MEN. He is no Epicurean God, careless of the interests and concerns of men, but the God whose care for the world brought Him to live in it that He might share its burden and its pain. It is essential that we should understand that God cannot leave men unruled. He cannot surrender the powers of life to be wielded at will by sensual and malignant hearts. A fool's paradise, a knave's, a demon's — what sort of a world were that for any man to dwell in? Suicide then would be the queen of the arts, as it was once in the Roman Paradise, of which Virgil and Horace dreamed. No, God the Ruler, responsible for the universe He has made to suffer or to be blessed, appoints and holds the limits beyond which freedom shall not pass in defiance. His hand is on the most daring rebel, compelling him to range within bounds.

II. THE MORAL CONDITION OF VARIOUS MEN AND CLASSES WITH REGARD TO THE RULE OF GOD.

1. There are the utterly godless; men who care for no restraint, who ask, "Who is the Lord, that?" etc. Often they seem to escape the eye and hand of God. But it is not so. A hard bar meets them at every turn, a check at every breath. God rules them with a rod of iron. Blind to the glance of His eye, they must writhe under the pressure of His hand.

2. The indolent among His own children — hearts sluggish and lazy, that will not rise up to the sympathy of friends. They will not reject God. They know already that there is no blessing which is really worth anything but God's. They would weep bitterly, and feel that life was utterly impoverished, if God's presence were gone from it, and they were just left to make the best of a world that they love too well. But they will not risk too much in seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. One eye is always on the world, if the other is on God. But they have to be driven in the way which they say they love, and this at a cost of pain to them and patience to Him, which God only knows. And what are the instruments?There is —

1. Adversity. See how He dealt with Jacob. God kept him always in sorrow as a means of keeping him near to Himself. "I have lost my health," cried one to a minister — one who knew well that her health had not been nobly used. "Take care that you do not lose your sickness too," was the answer. It went home, and led her to turn to God.

2. The prison of circumstance. Many are bound as with iron bands to irksome, wearisome duties; but wrestle as they may, the bonds hold. They must work on or starve. And they do work on, but loveless, joyless; because they must, not because they would. It is God's school of compulsory discipline.

3. Inward terrors. God can speak to the soul when none hears. Out of the deep silence a voice may break to daunt and humble us, to make all mere possession worthless, and set us face to face with God.

4. Death. Many a child of God lives in almost slavish fear of dying. And God keeps the terror before them, that He may hold them by its chain, as they will not be held by the bands of His love. Multitudes are sobered and restrained by this fear, servile though it be.

III. THOSE IS WHOM THE LORD FINDS FULL SYMPATHY, and sees the end of His culture fulfilled. "I will guide thee with Mine eye." The eye indicates the desire, the lips the command, the band compels. Those who know the language of the eye have mastered the language of the soul.

1. It implies sympathy.

2. Vigilant duty.

3. Perfect delight. To be guided by the eye we must love supremely Him who guides. And as the fruit of this the light of God's countenance shines oil us evermore.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

I. THE PLACE OF GUIDANCE.

1. The place of forgiveness.

2. The place of confession.

3. The place of prayer and of communion.

4. The place of personal appropriation of the presence of Jesus.

II. THE PROCESS OF DIVINE GUIDANCE.

1. The exterior process.

(1)Conscience.

(2)The Word of God.

(3)The Holy Spirit.

(4)The outward providences of God.

2. The interior process.(1) Map out the whole circumstances in the presence of God simply, as far as you know them.(2) Bring your will while it is yet in a fluid condition, if I may so speak, and place it before God, that He may mould it and direct it before it is solidified.(3) There must be a deep detaching of your affections in the matter, by the power of the Holy Spirit; your affections must be untwined, ready to twine round whatever God tells you is His will.(4) Then bring all the materials naturally found for forming a judgment, and spread them out in the presence of God.(5) After thus yielding your will, after detaching your affections, after preparing an altar of sacrifice by bringing all the materials for forming f judgment, and after laying yourselves upon it, what next? Wait. Scarcely a Christian dare do it. And I venture to say this is why so few hear the voice of God. We all have the written Word, but He speaks behind it, as well as through it.

(C. A. Fox.)

Now, if we start in the journey of life without a guide, we shall be sure to go astray and wander from the right path. We shall find many guides offering their services, but who will only lead us on to ruin. We are better without them. The only safe guide, on whom we may always rely with confidence, is Jesus our Saviour. It is He who says so tenderly in our text, "I will guide thee with Mine eye." What wonderful power there is in the eye. How much it can say. Jesus has three things that He makes use of in guiding His people —

I. HE HAS A WONDERFUL EYE. The eye is the emblem of knowledge, and the Bible tells us that "the eye of the Lord is in every place, beholding," etc. This wonderful eye that takes all things in shows the perfect knowledge of Jesus. It is important for a guide to have a clear and proper knowledge of everything the persons he is guiding will need in their journey. Suppose you start on a journey. At night it becomes very cold; but your guide has provided no warm clothing, and made no preparations for a fire, then how much suffering there will be! Or suppose there is a river to be crossed, and you have no means of crossing it, what trouble that will cause! But if we take Jesus for our Guide in the journey of life which is before us, we need fear none of these things. "He seeth the end from the beginning." He knows everything that we can need through the whole course of our journey; His wonderful eye takes in at a glance the guidance which His people need; and He leads them in the right way.

II. JESUS HAS A WONDERFUL HAND. The hand represents power. He makes use of His eye and His hand, His knowledge and His power, to guide and help His people.

III. HE HAS A WONDERFUL BOOK. In foreign travel a guide-book is indispensable. It tells us all the things we want to know on our journey. So is the Bible to us poor lost sinners; and chief of all, because it guides us to Jesus.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

What a frail thread of guidance for a human soul! A glance of God's eye — it seems a trivial thing. Why not a pressure of God's hand, a support of God's arm, a binding of God's golden chain? Does not He guide other things much more imperatively? Has he not bound the stars with an iron belt of law? They cannot, if they would, transgress. But my soul has no belt around it. It can break away if it will; it has broken away many times. It has only the glance of God's eye, not the driving of His hand; only His direction, not His force, to guide. Wherefore is it so? Is not my soul of more value than many stars? Is it not a deeper note in the music of existence than all the harmony of the orbs of light? Why has it merely the guidance of the eye? Just because it is meant to be a deeper harmony. What is it that makes thy life an intenser note than the music of the stars? Is it not just the fact that thou art free, just the circumstance that there is no iron belt around thee? What is this marvellous thing thou callest thy will? Wherein does its glory differ from the glory which the heavens declare? Is it not just in this, that thou art not compelled to come in? There is a guidance for thee, but it is not a star's guidance; it is a guidance of the eye. It is the only guiding which a will can get without dying. The rivers of Paradise run in their courses because they cannot get away. Not thus would He make thy paradise, oh my soul! He would surround Himself with rivals in thy heart. He would give thy steps room to stray. He would suffer thee to be led into temptation. He would show thee the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. He would be loved after experience; He would be, not the inevitable, but the chosen, one.

(G. Matheson, D. D.)

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