Summary: "Teach Me" is an exposition of Psalm 119:33-40. It teaches that only God can teach you how to live right. There is (1) a prayer for personal admission into God's school, (2) a prayer for continual progress in God's school, and (3) a prayer for steadfast p
In Psalm 51:5, David confesses, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Every one of us shares David’s sad testimony. We are all sinners – by nature, by birth, by inclination, by choice, and by conduct. Romans 3:10-12 says: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Consequently, we do not need anyone to teach us how to sin. If you don’t believe that, just have some children. You don’t have to train a child to lie, cheat, or steal. At birth, they are automatically wired to do wrong. So is every one of us. WILLIAM BEVERIDGE expressed the ugly reality of his sinfulness when he wrote:
I CANNOT PRAY, EXCEPT I SIN;
I CANNOT PREACH, BUT I SIN;
I CANNOT ADMINISTER, NOR RECEIVE THE HOLY SACRAMENT, BUT I SIN.
MY VERY REPENTANCE NEEDS TO BE REPENTED OF;
AND THE TEARS I SHED NEED WASHING IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.
I repeat: You and I do not need anyone to teach us how to do wrong. But we definitely need someone to teach us how to do right. The freedom of the will permits us to do as we wish. But the bondage of the will does not permit us to do as we ought. Jeremiah 13:23 says: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” We need someone to teach us how to do what is right. And I stand to tell you that there is someone who is ready, willing, and able to teach you how to live right. Only God can teach you how to live right. That’s the message of this section of Psalm 119. The psalmist is convinced that only God can teach him how to live right. So he passionately prays that God would be his teacher. This text is unique among the twenty-two sections of Psalm 119, in that it is the only stanza that contains a petition in every verse – nine in all. Over and over again, the writer pours out fervent prayers for participation, progress, and perseverance in God’s school for right living. And I want to challenge you to join the psalmist in praying that God would teach you how to live right.
I. A PRAYER FOR PERSONAL ADMISSION INTO GOD’S SCHOOL
Verses 33-34 record the writer’s application for admission into the God’s school for right living. These verses give two reasons why you ought to pray for admission into God’s school.
A. YOU NEED SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION
In verse 33, the psalmist prays: “Teach me, O Lord, they way of your statutes, and I will keep it to the end.” This verse tells us four things about God’s seminary for right living. First, there is the enrollment process: teach me. The anonymous author of Psalm 119 was clearly devoted to the word of God. The content of this psalm makes it obvious that he read, studied, meditated on, memorized, believed, delighted in, obeyed, proclaimed, and even suffered for the word God. In fact, his life was so shaped by the word that in verse 99 he says: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” Here is a man that was devoted to the word of God. But the greatest evidence of this was not what he knew, but his acknowledgement of what he did not know as he prays, Teach me. This is an essential qualification for admission into God’s school: you must recognize that you have a lot to learn. Foolish people, who do not know that they do not know, are never accepted by God. God only accepts those who recognize their need for instruction. Someone has said that education is the process of going from unconscious ignorance to conscious ignorance. So the enrollment process into God’s school requires that you recognize your spiritual ignorance and cry out, “Teach me.”
Second, there is the Master Instructor: O Lord. SAINT BENARD was right when he said, “He who is his own pupil has a fool for his master.” You cannot teach yourself how to live right. Other people cannot teach you how to live right. The world cannot teach you how to live right. God alone is the master teacher, tenured professor, and resident scholar in the divine school of right living. So you must submit to the God’s instruction in order to be a righteous person. Let me put that another way: If you are going to live right, you must trust and obey the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.