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Daily Devotional

July 25

Day 206: Psalm 86:11-17

by John Calvin

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth. In submitting himself to God, and in imploring him to be his guide, David confesses that the only possible way by which we can be enabled to live a holy and upright life is, when God goes before us, while we follow after him; and, accordingly, that those who deviate, let it be ever so little, from the law through a proud conceit of their own wisdom, wander from the right path.

David is not only speaking of external teaching: but having the law among his hands, he prays for the inward light of the Holy Spirit, that he may not labour in the unprofitable task of learning only the letter; according as he prays in another place, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Ps. 119:18). If a prophet so distinguished, and so richly endued with the graces of the Holy Spirit, makes such a frank and cordial confession of his own ignorance, how great our folly if we feel not our own deficiency, and are not stirred up to greater diligence in self-improvement from the knowledge of our slender attainments! And, assuredly, the more progress a man has made in the knowledge of the true religion, the more aware will he be that he is far from the mark. It is necessary to add, that reading or hearing is not enough, unless God impart to us inward light by his Spirit.

In addition to this, the Psalmist desires that his heart may be framed for yielding obedience to God, and that it may be firmly established therein; for as our understanding has need of light, so has our will of uprightness.

Unite my heart to fear your name.* In the word unite there is very beautiful metaphor, conveying the idea, that the heart of man is full of tumult, drawn asunder, and, as it were, scattered about in fragments, until God has gathered it to himself, and holds it together in a state of stedfast and persevering obedience. From this also, it is manifest what free will is able to do of itself. Two powers are ascribed to it; but David confesses that he is destitute of both; setting the light of the Holy Spirit in opposition to the blindness of his own mind; and affirming that uprightness of heart is entirely the gift of God.


Welcome to a one-year devotional by John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Psalms. We are indebted to P & R Publishing for permission to use this copyrighted material from John Calvin: A Heart Aflame on the OPC Web site. In addition to viewing the daily devotional reading here, you may like to purchase a copy of the book A Heart Aflame from P & R Publishing or your local bookstore.

John Calvin, A Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, is copyright © 1999 by P & R Publishing Company, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior permission of the publisher, P & R Publishing Company, P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865-0817.

Unless marked by an asterisk, italic Scripture excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. Phrases of Scripture within Calvin's exposition are based on an unidentified older translation, or in rare instances modified to conform to the NIV excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition.

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