“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
When I was young I often understood this passage to have a totally different meaning than others. I thought as David spoke of hating those who hate God in the previous verses he was asking God to find something to prove him imperfect. In other words I used think that David was very proud. I may have looked in context at it from the point of the earlier verses but not the following verse. “And lead me in the way everlasting!” why would someone perfect need to be led, why would they need guidance? They wouldn't. This changes the whole tone of Davids plea.
It has changed it from that of a proud man, to that of a desperate man. No matter what the motivation to ask God such a thing is bold. Each sentence ends with an exclamation. Once again this is the cry of a desperate man, but what is he desperate for? Since a young age David had known about and experienced God's presence and providence in his life. God delivered him from from a lion and a bear, from Goliath and Saul, and later in life, sin and death.
I do not know at what point in David's life this was written. Some say while he was a shepherd boy, it would be easy for me to want to disagree with this as I have been reading through second Samuel and have seen the bloodbath, the murderous nature of David's sons etc. again I don't know, but if he penned it as a shepherd boy I find myself amazed. Imagine if you will the encouragement this would give David in the years to come as he walked through every trial, and faced his own failures, and saw his sons commit so much evil. If sung as an adult imagine the depth of the cry as it has taken on new meaning through experience. Songs are such an encouragement and sometimes the full depth of them does not hit me until years after first hearing it. Though I enjoyed it at the first time I heard it, events in my life lead me to grasp deeper meanings in it. I wonder if he wrote it as a shepherd boy how it kept and changed his perception and understanding of God's character. Kept because it already spoke of God's omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, changed because God became more and more real as he saw the unchanging character of God through his life. So once again I say what was he desperate for? He was desperate for God, he was desperate to never be separated from God. If he were a boy perhaps he was confident in being seen as perfect in God's eyes through faith in God's keeping him, and yet he had some humility knowing at any time he could walk down the wrong path. So he cries out “Lead me in the way everlasting.”
I can do this in a heart not only desperate for God, but unfortunately doubting God's good character. Fearing that I could do something to make Him leave me. However a wonderful truth is David did not first seek out God, God sought out David. The same is true in my life. God placed me in a God fearing family with God fearing parents. As I have grown I have seen many of my siblings walk away from God. Before that happened they were an encouragement to my faith and helped me grow in many ways. Because they wandered from God does that mean God is any less faithful or His word any less true? No. most certainly not. It only means they have stopped believing it and therefore it has stopped showing outwardly in their life. I pray often that they are again filled with a hunger for God. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 it says “Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” God has put a desire in each of us for eternal life with Him. And In John 6:44 Jesus says “No one can come to me unless the Father Who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” The very fact that I have a desire for something more, though I have tried to satisfy it with earthly things, is proof that God is seeking me. The fact that David cried out to God to search him, and to lead him says that God was drawing and seeking him. We are desperate for God, because He is desperate for us. He does not by any means need us, but He by all means wants us and wants to save us. We didn't choose him but He chose us. See john 15:16.
The response then to God when He seeks us should be seek Him also, to cry out for him to search and lay bare every intention of the heart as David did, and show if there is any wicked way in us, that we might repent of it, that we might be led in the way everlasting.
Tomorrow I will make a point of getting up in time to have my morning devotional, 5:30 am.