TEACH ME THY PATHS
Psalm 25:1-4 Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.
In good times, when everything seems to be going right in life, when our business or profession is prospering, and when family and social lives are happy and flourishing, there is a tendency to rely more on self and less on our Heavenly Father. Every step we take, every path we choose, seems to be correct and the result always seems to be successful. In these times, it seems we can do no wrong.
In the lesson text, the Psalmist seems to refer to the other end of the success spectrum. Probably things are failing. Each decision leads to further loss. Every bend and crossroad in the life's pathway seems to be filled with failure. Self-reliance appears to be unreliable. As with the Psalmist, it is times like this that brings us "down to earth;" that makes us fully aware of our insufficiencies in life. Be assured, we need God's guidance throughout out life. We need more reliance on God in our everyday decisions. This lesson teaches us that we need to know and to follow God's ways, and walk in His proven paths.
As a child, I remember walking behind my father, especially in winter while snow was on the ground. I remember trying to take long strides in order to step in the footprints he made in the snow. Being unable to see the surface of the ground under the snow, I was unsure what my footing would be. However, I knew if I stepped in the footprint made by my father, the footing would be surer. It had already been tested. I relied on his way, on his path, on each of his footprints to safely lead me home.
In our life here on earth, nothing is more assuring than recognizing God's way and following the path He lays before us. We should never rely on our own judgment; we are too easily deceived and too often led astray by Satan disguised as Success. In the well known, and often quoted Psalm 23, we find Jesus Christ, in the form of God, compared to a shepherd and mankind to His sheep. The Good Shepherd leads His sheep in paths of righteousness. Not only do we find green pastures and still waters walking in His paths, but, when we are faced with walking through the valley of the shadow of death, there is no reason for us to have any fear. Why? It is because Jesus Christ has already taken this path to death while on earth. We see in the path taken by our Savior, that death is conquered in resurrection. There is no fear in His paths.
Two examples of things we find in the pathway prepared by God - mercy and truth. Psalm 25:10 says, All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. Knowing God's ways and walking in His paths, one will observe God's mercy and truth. And in obedience we will incorporate these two characteristics into our own lives.
MERCY. From the earliest of His teachings, we find Jesus telling us about mercy. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7). To have access to the mercy of God, and even to expect the mercy of others, we must show mercy toward our fellow human beings. As we observe mercy in God's pathway, we see that it includes fairness, compassion, sympathy, kindness, and a disposition to forgive. This sentiment is expressly stated as follows, Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another and forgiving one another (Colossians 3:12-13).
TRUTH. John told his fellow Christians, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 4). Truth incorporates sincerity, honesty, and trustworthiness as they apply to, and conform to, a standard. This standard we find in the pathway of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The importance of truth in our lives here on earth is wonderfully stated by Jesus: If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and he shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free (John 8:31-32).
Mercy and Truth - both are found in the paths of God and Christ Jesus. O, God, teach me Thy paths.