Surely You desire truth in the inmost being; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
I. THE SECRET OF SIN IS FOUND IN THE CORRUPT HEART. The first thing that startles and staggers us may be some actual transgression; but as we consider the matter, we are forced back and back, and closer and closer, till we end with the corrupt heart. Sin is everywhere; but always, when we seek its origin, we come to the same source. We may not be able to explain fully why and how the heart is corrupt, but of the fact there can be no question. It is better to seek deliverance from the pit, than to weary and vex ourselves in vain with inquiries how we came there.
II. THAT THE EVIL OF SIN IS SEEN IN THE CONTRADICTION OF TRUTH. What God desires must be right and good. But instead of "truth in the inward parts," it is the opposite. Instead of law, there is self-will; instead of order, there is confusion; instead of the unity of the Spirit, there is enmity and strife. The mind and the will are in contradiction to God. It is this that makes the disease so desperate, and the remedy so difficult (Genesis 17:9). We might make clean the outside of the cup, but it remains defiled within. We may whitewash the sepulchre, but after all it is a sepulchre, full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. Helpless, and well-nigh despairing, our cry is, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?"
III. THAT DELIVERANCE FROM SIN CAN ONLY BE EFFECTED BY THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF GOD'S AUTHORITY IN THE HEART. Healing that does not go to the root of the disease is vain and delusive. The heart must be made right or nothing is right. This is the work of God through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:8-14). It is not slight, or half-and-half work, but thorough. We cannot serve two masters. But by the grace of Christ we are saved from the bondage and misery of our old master, and God is again enthroned in our hearts as our true and rightful Lord, whose service is perfect freedom, and whose rewards are peace and joy for evermore. - W.F.
I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE NATURE OF GOD IN GENERAL. "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts," i.e. a general uprightness and integrity of spirit.
Behold Thou desirest truth in the inward parts.
(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)
I. THE DIVINE IDEAL FOR THE LORD'S PEOPLE. "Thou desirest truth," etc. By truth is meant genuineness, reality, sincerity. Long ago Thomas Carlyle awoke a great deal of interest by his vigorous denunciation of shams. He but echoed the Scriptures. For such sincerity a new birth is essential. Yet this is a voluntary exercise (Acts 3:19). Again, it is said "Make you a new heart." It is the turning of your spirit to Him. And we must be thorough in this. God requires truth in the "inward parts." Christ is the model of such sincerity and truth. But He is not the full model, for He never knew what the qualms of conscience were; never experienced the conflict of the law of His members and the law of His Spirit. Hence, servants of Christ such as Paul are given to us to supplement this ideal. Paul says, "Be ye followers of me."
II. THE DIVINE WORK IN GOD'S PEOPLE. "In the hidden parts shalt," etc. Note —
1. What the teacher is to do. He is to make us know wisdom. This He does through His Word; His providence; His disciples, trials and disappointments.
2. What has the scholar to do? Submit to the Word of God. Walk circumspectly. Try to realize what is the true ideal of character. The Greek word is one which signifies "to engrave." An engraved plate will leave an impression according to what itself is. Character is cut out by circumstances, by the man's own actions.
(John Hall, D. D.)
1. God takes a special delight in such a frame of soul as this, from whence men became real and sincere towards Him.(1) God is truth Himself, and so loves it and delights in it, as His own reflection.(2) God desires truth as most suitable to those ends which He propounds to Himself in us. There's no man loves to be deceived, because thereby he is frustrated and disappointed; which although God cannot be said to be directly, yet He may be in regard of our carriage and behaviour of ourselves towards Him, which He would not be.(3) It is that which gives a being to all grace and goodness in us: goodness and truth are convertible and reciprocal, that is, they are one and the same, so that what is not the one is not the other, not only in metaphysics, but in morals. Truth is not a distinct and particular grace in itself, but it is general, and runs through the veins and bowels of all. It is true faith, and true love, and true hope, and true repentance, and so of the rest.
2. Wherein this truth or sincerity consists.(1) In the aim and bias of the soul, whereby and whereunto it is carried. A sincere-hearted Christian looks at God in all (1 Peter 4:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31).(2) In universality. Where this truth is in the inward parts, there will be a respect had to all God's commandments; and that whether as to the practice of duty or to avoiding of sin. In matter of duty, to do all that God requires, though never so contrary and repugnant to our natural inclinations; in matter of sin, to avoid all that God forbids, though never so pleasing and delightful to flesh and blood.(3) In its intimacy and secret goodness. It is called "truth in the inward parts" because it reaches even to them, and is observable there.(4) In its constancy and continuance to the end. Sincerity is accompanied with perseverance. Where there is grace in truth, there will be grace also in continuance: though there may be ebbings and flowings as to the degrees, yet for the substance it will be still the same; yea, and after some accidental intermissions it will in time again return to its former vigour.
II. AN INTIMATION OF HIS CARRIAGE TO DAVID IN PARTICULAR. "And in the hidden part," etc.
1. Take it in its proposition.(1) The nature of grace. It is wisdom (James 3:17). It is called so, and may very well he so, as having indeed the properties of wisdom most agreeable to it. Wisdom is provident for the future, and does not only look at the present; and so it is with grace: wisdom, it takes things altogether, not only singly and alone by themselves, but in their conjunction; and so grace: wisdom, it looks after the main chance, and that which is chiefly to be looked after in the neglect of impertinencies and superfluities; so likewise does grace.(2) The author of grace is God Himself. "Thou." This seems to be added in opposition to that which he had premised and set down in the foregoing verse: there he had told us that he was born in iniquity, and in sin did his mother conceive him. Corruption it was conveyed to him by nature; yea, but grace it had another conveyance and derivation of it: thus it came not to him from his parents, but from God Himself; flesh and blood had not taught it him, but his Father which was in heaven (Matthew 16:17), and so he acknowledges Him in it.(3) The seat or subject of this wisdom, which it resides in, and that is here expressed to be the hidden part; that is, the soul and inward man: though it may also signify the object and matter which this spiritual wisdom is conversant about. And if ye will, we will take notice of both; or further, thirdly, the manner also of conveyance, as if he had said secretly, and after an hidden manner, as some interpreters render the words, which we may likewise add to the former. So, then, here is the sum and substance of what the psalmist does out of these words exhibit unto us: first, that the excellency of religion lies in the inward man: secondly, that a good Christian is acquainted with the mysteries of religion: thirdly, that the conveyance of His grace and spiritual wisdom are oftentimes secret and undiscernible.
2. We may also look upon it in its scope and reflection, and with that force and emphasis in which it comes from the prophet David, who expresses as much to us about himself, that God had indeed wrought this work in his heart, that He had in the hidden part made him to know wisdom.(1) He discerns it, it carries in it an emphasis of discovery; as David had grace wrought in his heart, so he knew it to be there wrought; he saw it, and perceived it to be so. This is that which every one does not do, but yet which may be done.(2) He acknowledges it. David, when he speaks here of God's grace wrought in himself, he does not simply speak of it, but with some kind of affection and enlargement of soul, and as blessing God for it. He speaks of it as a special favour and mercy vouchsafed unto him, as indeed it was; and so should all others do likewise, which are in like manner made partakers of it.(3) He improves it, he makes use of it for his present purpose, and that to a double intent; first, as an aggravation of sin, as it respects himself: and secondly, as a motive and an argument for future mercy, as it relates to God. That God who had given him grace at first, would now bestow further grace upon him; that He who had given him the grace of conversion, would now help him in the exercise of repentance, as a fruit of conversion in him; that He that had sanctified him would pardon him; and that He that killed sin in him in the root would now vouchsafe to kill it further in the branches and effects of it.
(Thomas Horton, D. D.)
2. This thought gives hope and comfort in the way of conversion. Nothing less will God have from the awakened soul: nothing more will the grace of God require from the penitent.
3. This thought strengthens faith for glorious expectations (Isaiah 61:8).
(Andrew Murray.)1. It is a testimony of truth in the inward affections when one carrieth an universal hatred of all sin, that is, of secret sins as well as of open sins, of lesser sins as well as of greater evils, of such sins as have some special enticement, by some particularity of content or profit, as well as of those which afford neither. A sincere heart is as tender as the eye, which is troubled, and made to smart and water with the smallest mote, or as a straight shoe, which cannot endure the least stone within it, but makes him shrink and tread respectively, and with a kind of favour to his foot, until it be removed. This is one mark.
2. A second, which is in a manner a limb of the former, is a taking heed to that sin to which a man finds himself most apt; or wherewith he hath at any time been overtaken. Is it rash anger, is it pride; is it wantonness, is it worldliness, is it vain pleasure, etc.? If thou be especially wary and watchful touching that, to prevent the occasions, to stop the beginnings of it, to beware of the inducements to it, this is a notable testimony of sincerity.
3. A third is a willingness to lay open every sin as soon as it is known to be a sin, and to that end a gladness to have the conscience ransacked and ripped up, that that which is sin may be found out. David spake it out of experience when he pronounced the man blessed in whose spirit there is no guile.
4. A fourth mark, when a man makes conscience to be one and the same manner of man at home and in private that he is abroad and in public. This is also a branch of David's sincerity, and of his resolution to walk in a perfect way: "I will walk uprightly in the midst of mine house": his meaning is, he will be the same among his household people, where few behold him, that he is abroad where many see him: he will be as godly in his chamber as in the Temple.
(S. Hieron.)I. AS OPPOSED TO IGNORANCE. It is the character of men in an unregenerated state, that they have the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them. The character, in point of understanding, of men in whom God takes pleasure, is no vague or doubtful matter. Seeing God hath given in the Gospel the fullest and most satisfactory information concerning Himself, and the character and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator, they who have believed the word of the truth of the Gospel — "who have received with meekness" this "engrafted word" — have in one important respect the truth which God desires in the inward parts." There are different degrees, indeed, in which this change actually exists; but all are alike in kind; and they all differ in kind from other men, who are in darkness, and walk in darkness, and know not where they go, because that darkness hath blinded their eyes.
II. AS OPPOSED TO INSINCERITY. The spirit of the people of God, in whom the Lord takes pleasure, is that spirit in which there is no guile. Sanctification of the spirit is associated in them with belief of the truth. Sincerity, arising from, and connected with, a spiritual understanding of the truth of the Gospel, forms the temper of their inward man. The truth with respect to God and the Lord Jesus Christ, that informs their minds, enters into their hearts.
III. AS OPPOSED TO FALSE AND TEMPORARY AFFECTIONS OF MIND. That practical godliness includes the exercise of the affections of the mind is not to be disputed. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart" is the first and great commandment. There are lively emotions in every truly pious heart. Men who receive the truth of the Gospel "in the love of it," and who have their souls purified in obeying it, delight themselves in the Lord, and love one another with a pure heart, fervently. The principles of vital godliness are like "seed cast into good ground, that springeth up and beareth fruit"; there is first the blade; then the ear; and afterwards the full corn in the ear.
(D. Dickson, D. D.)John 8:32): — The same word, "truth," stands in both texts and yet represents in each its own particular matter. "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts;" which means that God looks to find in us a kernel of personal truthfulness, a sound core, a fragment of the aboriginal veracity of God, an oaken knot of probity that can take a blow without flinching, sterling metal that will sound with a long, clear, ringing tone of reverberation. The other is a little apart from this, "The truth shall make you free." This denotes the truth outside of us coming to us, telling upon us, working its emancipation in us. The other was the sterling metal; this is the hammer that sets the wire ringing, the plectrum that sets the metal quivering and humming. The two answer back to each other; they understand each other — the truth that is structural within us, and the truth that comes to talk to us. They are correlates, like the eye and the light that saturates it; the ear and the melody that sings into it. We are never quite discouraged about a man, so long as there remains still in him one single solid atom that retains the old crystalline lines and angles; a rigid basis upon which presented truth can be laid, and into which it can be mortised; a truth-sense to which we can address and press our appeal. It is like dealing with an old and withered building; the window-lights may be shattered, and the paint discoloured, and the casings awry; the flooring seamed, and the joints warped; but, though you may have to tear down a good deal, and replace and pretty thoroughly renovate it, yet there is great vantage secured, if decay and disintegration have not eaten into the foundation, and the masonry lies intact in its bottom courses. It is this which justifies the confidence we always have in a boy that is truthful; he may be full of roguery and tease his sister and torment his parents; he may easily get angry, and pound the boy that lives across the way; and show himself precocious In nothing so much as in his genius for resisting knowledge and palsying the efforts of his instructors; but, if he is truthful, if truth is in his inward parts, the pith of the matter is in him, a sound core, the spinal marrow; and there is something to address yourself to with assurance, when the time comes for appeals that are more strenuous and exacting. Bye-laws have no grip that is not guaranteed them by the vigour of the constitution. "God desireth truth in the inward parts." An impure heart issues in impure thoughts. Yes; but also impure thoughts issue in impure hearts. Intellect creates thought, but thought turns round and creates intellect. The interior and the exterior are parents and children of each other. Deed expends power, but deed also makes power. To that degree and in that sense we are all of us daily climbing up and down the ladder-rounds of our own actions, feelings, thoughts. So it is with this precious, unspeakably precious, nucleus of personal truthfulness, "truth in the inward parts." We make it more by speaking the truth, doing, thinking, and feeling the truth; we make it less by speaking, doing, thinking, and feeling that which is false. We are confessedly making a good deal of this matter of rectitude, straight-linedness; but it is the plumb-line dropped into us from above, and so must shape and direct all our aspirations towards God; and it is in the plumb-line from which we have to calculate the horizontal that shall determine our dealings with men. Truth is thus the core of piety, and it is the pith of charity. A promise is a promise, whether made in a matter of groceries or Gospel. I cannot go to a man and promise to help him in an enterprise, and then do as I like about keeping my promise. A promise is as holy a thing as Mount Sinai, and as holy as the law that was given on it, and the Lord that came down in thunder and lightning upon it. There are not even so many professed Christians as we might suppose who can be relied on to do as they say they will do, when it is not quite to their taste or convenience to do as they say they will do. Their word is not as good as their bond; and they proceed on principles which, if they were to apply them on the street, would cost them their seat in the Stock Exchange every day.
(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)
InI. THE KNOWLEDGE OF HEAVENLY THINGS, APPERTAINING TO THE RIGHT WAY OF PLEASING GOD, AND OF SAVING OUR OWN SOULS, IS THE TRUE WISDOM. How shall he be held for wise who wanteth judgment and understanding in the principle? And what is the principle, if not this, to know how to serve God so here as that we may be saved with Him, and by Him, hereafter? What were a man but a fool in case he otherwise knew all secrets, and could speak and discourse in matters of the world, as if one spake from an oracle, or did equal Solomon in discovering the natures of trees and herbs, from the cedar in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall, if yet he were to seek in the matters that concern eternity? All this is but like that wisdom which we tax in a man when we say, He is penny wise, but pound foolish: he will be miserable to save a penny, and yet be prodigal in pounds upon a humour. This is poor wisdom: so, on the other side, how can he be taxed for a fool justly who, whatsoever his reach and depth be in the things of this life (haply he hath not so many politic fetches, nor cannot plod and multiply projects as ethers do), yet he knoweth the way of salvation; he knoweth Christ crucified?
II. THE LORD HIMSELF IS THE PROPER TEACHER OF THAT SPIRITUAL AND HEAVENLY WISDOM WHICH IS ACCOMPANIED WITH SALVATION.
1. The Holy Scripture is the Book of Wisdom, out of which God will give unto the simple sharpness of wit: but, teaching by man, is the pipe by which this sacred wisdom is to be conveyed unto us from the Fountain: therefore God honoureth His ministers with the title of teachers, and hath ordained a deputation of faithful men, which should be able to teach others also.
2. In waiting upon the appointed means to get this wisdom, we must be furnished with two especial qualities: first, humility; secondly, earnestness.(1) The former I ground upon that often-remembered saying, "He will teach the humble His way." Now, he is humble in this case who hath' learned to renounce that wisdom, that sharpness, that sufficiency which he hath in his own opinion in himself. This is that denial of a man's self which Christ requireth in His followers: Paul, "a being a fool, to the end one may be wise." A man must disclaim all possibility of guiding himself, and resign and yield up himself wholly to the Lord's conduct. They which have this disposition are the babes to which God revealeth the mysteries of His kingdom, when He passeth over those which feed themselves with self-conceits.(2) The second quality required is earnestness. Thus the Kingdom of Heaven must suffer violence, and we must go about to take it as it were by force. In this business there must be labouring, striving, giving all diligence, a seeking early.
3. How shall we know that we are taught? The text answereth: Where God teacheth, the heart is taught. Look, then, what is in thy heart. There be some that have gotten some smack of this wisdom into their brains; they have a kind of lip-wisdom, and can talk somewhat plausibly of religion, but it is not yet come to their hearts. Their hearts be not humbled; they have not that which the apostle commended in the Romans — "obedience from the heart." Is thy heart reformed? Is the natural corruption thereof in some good measure subdued and abated? Is obedience sweet unto thy heart, and that which thy soul delighteth in? This is a sign thou art taught of God.
III. WHEN GOD BESTOWS ON ANY MAN SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE, HE GIVES SUCH A BLESSING AS DESERVES ACKNOWLEDGMENT. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee in scattering the mist of thy natural blindness, and in enabling thee to see the things which are given to us of God? Are thy eyes anointed with eye-salve, so that thou beginnest to savour the things of the Spirit, better than in times past? Oh, thank His Majesty for this mercy — this, a kindness of greater value than at first, perhaps, thou art aware; labour to increase in this knowledge, strive to have yet a larger and a fuller measure of this spiritual understanding.
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