Psalm 86 includes a wonderful prayer by King David, which should be taken to heart by every believer in the God who has made himself definitively known in great David’s greater son, our Lord Jesus Christ:
‘Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name’ (v11).
Firstly in this verse, David prays that the Lord God would teach him the right way to live so that his life would be shaped by God’s truth. God’s truth is revealed in the Bible. David’s Bible was the Old Testament Law of Moses. We as Christians are privileged to have the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, which teach us everything we need to know for eternal salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a prayer for Christian lives suffused with biblical truth.
Secondly in this verse, David prays for an undivided, united heart that he may ‘fear God’s name’. In this context that means respecting and honouring the authority of the Lord God Almighty and wanting to avoid the consequences of not doing that.
The ‘undivided heart’ David prays for means and does not mean two things:
First, at the core of our being, an undivided heart means we are trusting in God for the salvation of our eternal souls and not in anyone or anything else. It means we have renounced any rival to God for our ultimate significance and security as people.
An undivided heart does not mean that we have to withdraw from engagement with the world around us or with the practical realities of daily living. People with undivided hearts worship and adore the true God across the whole of life as they look forward to their final salvation when the Lord Jesus returns.
Secondly, an undivided heart means God is our supreme and unrivalled authority. What he says goes in our lives. The one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is our only Lord.
An undivided heart does not mean that we reject human rules and laws, such as those of the State or of our places of work. We should obey rightful human authorities because the Bible tells us to (see Romans 13v1-7). But an undivided heart does mean that where there is a clash between God’s spiritual and moral will as revealed in the Bible and human rules, we obey God and not man.
David’s is a vital prayer to pray for ourselves individually and for one another as a church family. May we be a church family made up of committed Christian people with undivided hearts.
September AD 2015