David is struggling. Things are not going as he thought they would. He cries out; “Teach me O Lord in the ways that I should go and forgive my sins.”
I wonder what time in David’s life this psalm was written. It could have been any time but I feel like it fits best in the years he was running from King Saul. “Surely there is a reason for what I’m going through. Teach me Lord so I will know which way to go from here.”
I can hear David praying this as he sits in his tent at night contemplating the next move for him and those who follow him. He feels inadequate to the task. All these people are looking to him to lead them but he is just a simple shepherd. He never went to school to learn military tactics. He was thrown into a leadership position by Saul so he could watch David fail. BECAUSE God was with him, David rose to the occasion instead. But that didn’t take away the insecurity in David’s heart. “How can I lead when I am in need of a leader myself?”
How? By letting God be that Leader.
First things first. David repented of ALL his sins. He doesn’t list them for us. If he did we could better place this psalm in David’s timeline. David isn’t taking any chances with the flow of communication between him and God. He brings EVERYTHING to God so he can be washed clean, even sins of his youth.
Did you notice that he is just the opposite of Job in this instance? Job would admit to no sins. Job searched his own heart and found it clean. David, a man after God’s own heart simply said, “cleanse me of ALL unrighteousness” knowing full well that there must be something he has done to displease the Lord at some time in his life. This reminds me of the song from The Sound of Music about doing something good in youth instead.
David recognizes his greatest need at this time in his life is direction from God. He wants to walk in the paths God has laid out for him and knows that seeking God’s help is his only hope of accomplishing that task. “How do I know where to walk if I don’t consult the Map Maker?”
Because of asking God for directions first, David knew his path would be sure. And he praised God for that surety. David was humble enough to know that his future was for the Lord’s glory, not his own. God had a purpose beyond David that He was working towards. David was an important part of it but he wasn’t the whole of it. David would gladly walk whatever path the Lord laid out.
As God was directing David’s path He was also looking down the road to you and me, and beyond. He is looking towards the end of time. He has a whole map laid out for this world. Each of us have a part in His plan and we can only know it when we seek Him for it. Revelation and Daniel gives us a brief overview of what is ahead for the church but there is a LOT of detail left out. I think this is so we will have to rely on God instead of forging ahead on our own.
Thinking of this ‘map process’ reminds me of when my children and I were moving from Oregon to Tennessee. I was driving a big moving van with my van riding on a car trailer I was pulling behind it. I made sure the kids felt like there were involved in the entire process. The kids and I sat down and talked about the route we should take. Once the best route was marked out on the map we set off. My oldest son read the map for us telling us what roads we were to take next and my two middle children read the street signs to alert me to where and when to turn. My youngest son’s job was to watch the shadow of our van. He helped me judge when I could safely move in and out of the lanes because the truck completely blocked the view of the car trailer. Many times in my anxiety I would ask for an update on the map or to read a street sign as soon as I saw the color of it appear. Their vision was much better than mine and I couldn’t read the street signs until we were nearly on them. I wanted as MUCH time to make corrections as possible. All my children worked together to keep us all safe and on the right road. I could NEVER have done it without their help!
I wonder what the whole map looks like. Does it make a picture like a tapestry? I hope I get to see it from His perspective when all is said and done. Remember, even Jesus doesn’t know the whole timeframe. Only God knows when He is going to send Jesus back for the final battle. I wonder if Jesus ever asks, “Is it time yet?” Probably not because that would show impatience.
Father God, I NEED You to direct my paths. I want to walk the roads You prepared for me and stop taking all these detours. I don’t want to be Billy from the Family Circle cartoon anymore. He never took a straight line to anywhere. But then his wanderings did let him encounter a lot of other things. My ‘wanderings’ have helped make me who I am. So were they already included in Your map? I’m looking forward to seeing that trail marked out. It’s making me smile just thinking about it. A bit like the cracked pot story.
Whatever path You have for me Lord, I know it is perfect and it is for YOUR glory. Lead on Holy Spirit and I will follow!