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  • Brent Nelson

The Life-Mending Power of God’s Word (Psalm 86:11)

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. —Psalm 86:11

When you clicked on this blog, no matter what you thought you’d find, your soul is searching for God. If God is real, hearing from Him outranks all other voices.

To hear His voice in this psalm is to experience your whole life falling into order. Like filings to a magnet, your behavior aligns with your beliefs, and your beliefs confirm your identity. The ancient Hebrews called this shalom (Isaiah 54:10). Far greater than the absence of conflict, this peace perfectly re-orders all aspects of our lives. It comes from knowing personally God’s love and powerful grace found alone in Jesus Christ. In vain do we search for replicas in countless broken and empty cisterns of life. But it emerges in one place: the life-generating words of God our Teacher, our Savior, and Lord.

God Teach Me

King David knows God’s voice well and prays, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11). He expresses a primal desire to be addressed and refashioned not by mere facts or content, but by the Divine words of God. The outcome of God’s teaching is godly conduct: “…that I may walk in your truth.”

What’s really happening here? When God teaches, we don’t gain merely new ideas, but new birth! Jesus said, “…Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45). To be taught by God’s Word is to be caught by God’s Son.

That is why being taught by God leads to walking in the truth. The teaching of God transforms our being so that our behavior shifts from false to true, from evil to good.

God Unite Me

How can words, even God’s words exchange my broken habits of sin for whole desires for godliness? The next phrase of David’s prayer holds a telling clue: "unite my heart to fear your name.”

Sin separates what God has united. It separates races, nations, relationships, and even us from our selves. Where God’s teaching embeds, the broken are healed, the torn are mended, and the conflicted make peace.

Think of the two brothers united in their love for God and thus, one-another (Psalm 133:1). When the prodigal son repents, Jesus said he “came to himself” (Luke 15:17).

Where our lives are broken with God, every other relationship shatters. We’re porcelain figurines laced with cracks and yellowed glue. Settle for no substitutes. Fly to God who alone can mend the broken pieces of your life in the peace of His Son Jesus Christ. Be transformed from porcelain to person.

To be taught by God is to have one’s torn life mended. David implored God: “Unite my heart to fear your name.” The dismembered soul schemes to flee God. But the united soul delights to fear God (Isaiah 11:3). When I discover God alone remakes my splintered soul, I realize I have come face to face with Almighty Love. My soul bows low in trembling joy before the infinite kindness of God. And his kindness begets my repentance (Romans 2:4).


For Reflection

  1. Are you daily sitting under the teaching of God in His Word? Listen in the car, while you exercise, during any chore. Bridle Facebook. Unplug. Season your conversations with this unspeakably glorious answer for the universal brokenness of our culture: Allow God to teach you in Christ.

  2. Memorize and meditate on Psalm 86:11. Don’t stop till you have listened past the page, past the poetry, all the way to the voice of God.

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