Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself…
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
- Make me love thy commandments. (Haydock)
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
- Enable me to keep and to understand your law, Lord.
- We must observe what we know, that we may receive greater lights. (Haydock)
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
- Free-will concurs with grace.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to gain!
- Either of money, or any unlawful object.
- For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim 6:10-12)
37 Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; and give me life in your ways.
- Vanity. Idols, worldly prosperity, etc.
- Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are mischief and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots mischief while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he spurns not evil. Your mercy, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Ps 36:1-7)
- We must pray that God will take away the occasions of sin, and help us to advance in virtue.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you.
39 Turn away the reproach which I dread; for your ordinances are good.
- Reproach. Hidden sins of thought, (St. Ambrose) or the sarcasms of the Babylonians.
- Sin is odious, because it is contrary to God’s law, which is most delightful.
- The saints have been often ridiculed.
- O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; every one mocks me. (Jer 20:7)
- And as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are mad; your great learning is turning you mad.” But Paul said, “I am not mad, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth.” (Acts 26:24)
40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
- The just prays for greater perfection, and for perseverance.
Therefore David, who had experienced those very glances that are dangerous for a man, aptly says that the one is blessed whose every hope is in the name of God. For such a person does not have regard to worthless things and follies if he always strives toward Christ and always looks on Christ with his inner eyes. For this reason David turned to God again and said, “Turn away my eyes, that they may not see vanity.” “All things are vanity!” as Ecclesiastes said, all things that are in this world. Accordingly, let one who wishes to be saved ascend above the world, let him seek the Word who is with God, let him flee from this world and depart from the earth. For one cannot comprehend that which exists and exists always, unless he has first fled from here. On this account also, the Lord, wishing to approach God the Father, said to the apostles, “Arise, let us go from here.” – Ambrose, Flight From The World 1.4.
*Ambrose of Milan (333-397) was Bishop of Milan and a teacher of Augustine who defended the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the perpetual virginity of Mary.
God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The sin here prayed against is covetousness. Those that would have the love of God rooted in them, must get the love of the world rooted out; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Beholding vanity deadens us, and slackens our pace; a traveler must not stand gazing upon every object that presents itself to his view. The promises of God’s word greatly relate to the preservation of the true believer. When Satan has drawn a child of God into worldly compliances, he will reproach him with the falls into which he led him. Victory must come from the cross of Christ. When we enjoy the sweetness of God’s precepts, it will make us long for more acquaintance with them. (source)