Guide Me, Teach Me!
by James Smith, 1860
Divine teaching is in substance — the same in all ages, and under all circumstances. As we all need the same blessings — we are all led to the same source of supply — and taught to ask the same favors, on the same grounds. How frequently we are struck with this thought, when reading God's word, especially the book of Psalms: the prayers of David find an echo in our hearts, and we feel that we are the subjects of the same fears, desires, and hopes. How often has my heart ascended, while my lips have uttered, "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me — for You are God my Savior, and I wait on You all day long!" Psalm 25:4-5
This shows . . .
that we have a knowledge of our ignorance — and desire to be divinely taught,
that we are sensible of our weakness — and our need of a divine Teacher,
that we are aware that the Lord teaches his people — and reveals the truth in its purity, beauty, and glory to the soul,
that we cannot be satisfied with uncertainty, or the mere outside of truth — but that we wish to have an inward, heart-affecting, experimental knowledge of it.
Such a petition, presented to the Lord, with fervor, sincerity, and faith — proves that we are already under the enlightening and gracious operations of the Holy Spirit; for none go to the Lord, seeking to be divinely taught — but such as see their own folly, and realize the inability of man to teach them to profit. The soul, that from time to time, presents this petition —
honors the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine prophet,
proves the drawing power of the Father in the heart, and
glorifies the blessed Spirit, whose office it is to lead us into all truth.
"For You are God my Savior." From this, it is evident that we have felt our need of salvation, that we have sought the Lord on account of it, and have pleaded with God for it. Also that we have received some answers to our prayers, and have now an interest in it. We therefore plead past mercies — for present blessings; and our saving interest in God — when we seek new favors from God. We now need to be led and taught of God, we therefore cry, "I have looked to you for salvation, you have graciously heard my request, I now feel my need of your guidance and instruction — and therefore I come again, and beseech you to lead me in your truth and teach me."
It is the Christian's best plan, and highest wisdom, having received from the Lord — to go to the Lord for present supplies — let him need what he may. As also to make use of past favors, as a plea for present attention — for the Lord loves to hear his people's acknowledgment, and again appears to bless them. The Lord having manifested himself as the God of salvation, and granted the greater blessing, it would be wrong to doubt his love, or question his willingness to grant us any lesser favor.
"I wait on You all day long!" This proves sincerity, when the soul not only asks for a blessing — but waits for it. It shows that the soul not only needs and desires the good thing sought — but expects it. It is not satisfied to ask for divine teaching — but it really wishes to be taught. It does not compliment the Lord by offering a formal prayer, and then insult him, by expecting to obtain from the creature; but asking of God, expecting from God — it waits on God; waits all the day, and day after day too!
O how many profess to come to God, and seek good things from God — but only for a little time, or at intervals — whereas they should wait on the Lord, and wait on him until they obtain — seeing he has promised, "Those who wait on Me shall not be ashamed." The consistent believer, looks up to God in the morning, calls upon him at noonday, and perseveres hour after hour — until the blessing comes down. As David said, "O my God, I cry in the day-time — but you hear not; and in the night season, am not silent." And again, "Be merciful unto me, O Lord — for I cry unto you daily."
The prayer we have been considering, indicates saving personal religion! "Lead me" "I cry unto you!" That is not real religion, which is not personal; or which has not its seat in the heart, influencing the desires, and regulating the life. That soul will be preserved from all destructive errors, and led into all saving truth — which seeks divine guidance and teaching, waiting upon God for it. And those are the best educated in spiritual matters — who are jealous of their own hearts, who fear to trust their own judgments, and from a sense of their own ignorance, constantly seek to be taught of God.
But let us endeavor to impress this thought upon our minds: that merely asking is not enough! We must ask from a deep sense of need, with a desire to obtain, and persevere in waiting upon God — until we receive. Nor only so, we must use all the means in our power, as . . .
reading the Word,
hearing the gospel,
conversing with others, and
meditating on what we read and hear.
And yet at the same time, we are to expect the blessing to come directly from God, though it comes through the means.
Hence wisdom says, "Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to ME, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord!" Proverbs 8:33-35
But those who profess to seek the Lord's teaching, and to desire to know the truth — and yet listen to error, or read erroneous books — make it clear that they are not sincere, for if they were, they would not tamper with temptation, or play with the snare! Let us then keep close to God's Word, and in every difficulty, either in providence or grace, be this our prayer, "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me — for You are God my Savior, and I wait on You all day long!"