I can hear that rebuke in so many situations. I can hear the frustrated parent with the child over the tidiness of their room, the teacher when a student adopts the passive aggressive pose, the employer to the repeatedly late employee, the pensioner to the patronizing call centre worker. Why is attitude so important? It is because it acts as a key to unlocking learning, healthy relationships and personal well being. v13
The attitude with which we approach God impacts our learning but it does not come out of a vacuum. At the time of writing David is fearful and afraid he will be shamed. vv 2-3,19-20 These are common emotions through life, they can cause spiritual paralysis but David is aware this is a time to turn to God and learn.
A key aspect of discipleship is ordering one’s desires and David’s first desire is for the Lord, ‘To you O Lord, I lift up my soul.’ v1 He then desires to learn and learning is much more that a quick fix answer. Learning involves engaging with truth, understanding the character of God and his purposes. ‘Make me to know your ways, O Lord … Lead me in your truth and teach me.’ vv 4,5For the modern disciple it involves being a life-long learner from the bible.
David brings an attitude of humility to both his Lord and to the process of learning. He doesn’t expect instant command of God’s ways. Perhaps the most important word in the psalm is ‘wait’. ‘For you I wait all the day long’ v5 is repeated in verse 21, ‘for I wait for you.’ Learning takes time and understanding can come in unexpected moments. For me, surprisingly, often in the shower.
David knows God is the teacher, and this is an act of mercy v6 in response to repentance. v11 Learning comes from being in relationship with the Lord. David speaks of, ‘friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.’ v14 This should not be surprising as most remember learning best from teachers they liked and respected.
Finally, learning is set in an attitude of trust. The psalm is bookended with trust, ‘O my God, in you I trust;’ v2 and, ‘for I take refuge in you. v19
A prayer, ‘Lord, enable me to order my desires. I will wait upon the Lord’