This is a prayer of David. As I read the verses I felt it was different from yesterday’s psalm. Then I checked the author and gave a smile of recognition – the difference was David.
David asked for God’s mercy and grace just as the sons of Korah did in Psalm 85. Yet he did it in a more personal way. It seems to me that Psalm 85 was written as a national prayer and this is a personal one.
David repeated the mantra of the men of God which was so clearly articulated by Moses: “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth “(verse 11a).
But the second part of the verse adds anew dimension:
“… give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify Your name forever.
For great is Your love towards me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (verses 11b, 12, 13).
The undivided heart aspect reminds me of a New Testament metaphor about where our focus lies. In Luke 9:63 Jesus said:
“No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
It does not surprise me that David and Jesus said similar things about a life of faith. In Luke 12:34 Jesus also said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We are not made to have divided hearts and yet we constantly break our own hearts with faithlessness and fear.
We lose our focus when we look away from God and place our hope anywhere else: in ourselves, in other people, in other gods, in money, in work, in sport, in sex, in the lottery … Again as many times before David provided us the model for changing our own faithless behaviour: Ask God for help.
But note that David first asked God to teach him to walk in truth, then he asked for an undivided heart so that he might fear God and then David committed to praise God forever. David expected to be taught which takes effort and focus from the student too – he did not expect God to “fix” him overnight.