Teach me your paths

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Psalm 25
Have you ever moved to a different town or country and thought to yourself, “I will never be able to find my way around this place”?  All of the streets look different to what you have known before, you don’t know where your closest shops are and you find yourself eternally grateful for the wonders of Google Maps and Sat Nav.  Or maybe you have visited somewhere on holiday and felt the same.  But sometimes you are blessed to come upon a local resident or a native to the area who is willing to show you around.  To fill you in on the best coffee shops in town, to teach you the quickest route to get somewhere and to give you some inside information on shortcuts and hidden gems in the area.  Having a physical guide directing you is often the best way to learn which roads and routes to take.

When we are ‘navigating’ through life, quite often we want to make our own way and follow our own paths.  But in Psalm 25 it is clear that the psalmist deeply desires to learn God’s ways and walk in God’s paths because he knows that God is the best guide.  He earnestly pleads with God to make His ways known to him (v4), to teach him His paths (v4) and the lead him in His truth (v5); what a great prayer for us to have!  The ESV study Bible sums up this passage well by saying ‘We must have a sincere desire for God to lead us in the ways that are right according to the standards of truth in His word.’ 

Additionally, we must be willing to abandon certain paths we have been travelling for a long time, if we know they are not glorifying to God or in keeping with His word.  Too often we can fall into the trap of ‘following the crowd’ down roads that are popular in the world’s eyes.  But the Bible tells us that the most popular way is often the most dangerous.  In Matthew 7: 13-14 Jesus says ‘Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.’  Jesus teaches us that we are not to expect the majority of people to follow the correct path.  Again my study Bible puts it well when it highlights the fact that ‘comparatively few will pass through the gate of godly humility and true repentance- turning from and denying their own way in order to follow Jesus.’ 

Popular and well-travelled paths often lead to destruction, whereas this Psalm reminds us that ‘All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.’ (v10) Do you want to choose to follow the way of the world- the way that is popular amongst your friendship group or popular on social media or easy to follow because the majority are doing so- or do you want to follow God’s ways and God’s paths, as set out in His word?

What should we be doing then, if we choose to follow God’s ways?  We need to be spending time with God and studying His word.  The psalmist describes waiting on the Lord ‘all the day long’ (v5).  It is only through spending time getting to know the truth of God’s word and the truth about His character that we are able to discern how to walk in ways that are pleasing and glorifying to Him.  And lastly, we need to humbly submit ourselves (v9) to God and commit ourselves to following His word (v10b).  Both of these are active, ‘doing’ words and will take effort on our behalf, but we can rest assured in the fact that God is the Great Guide and that His way, narrow as it may be, is the only way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:14, John 14:6).  

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