I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
The Bible is the one great authority on good manners. There are others, of course; but they are absolutely unnecessary, for all we need is here. In fact, this book is mostly about behaviour — how men have behaved and how they ought to behave under the varying conditions of human life. It is such a mistake to think that these things are externals, additions to a man — they are fundamentals. Good behaviour is a vital thing, it is from the heart. "I will behave myself." We have often been told to do it — perhaps that is one of the first things most of us remember being told. But necessary as the parent, the guardian, and the schoolmaster are to enforce obedience, to moral, and national, and religious law, it is best to take the matter into our own hands, assert our own responsibility, and say, "I will behave myself." Oneself is the person we ought to be most concerned with. And yet there are very many people who are so anxious about the behaviour of others — such careful guardians of other people's morals. How many wise and gratuitous critics there are! How many to point out the mote in their brother's eye l Reformation begins at home — "I will behave myself" — and to do that properly will take me all my time. The psalmist now tells us in what good behaviour consists. "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." The first thing, then, to be seen to is home-conduct. "Is he a Christian?" said one to a friend the other day; and the answer was, "I don't know, I haven't seen him at home." It was a wise reply; home is the best place to judge — there we have the evidence unmistakable. Home graces are best; and if a woman would have her name kept in sweet and everlasting remembrance, let her always be at her best at home; and if a man will win fame that will outlast the renown of all the world's battlefields, let him be a hero at home, a knight of the little round table in his own parlour, where those who love the best will clown him with a wreath that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The psalm continues, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes." That undoubtedly is an essential part of fine conduct. Even to look on sin is harmful; it blurs, while it dazzles the vision; it casts a film over the eyes. "I will not know a wicked person." Literally that seems a resolve too difficult to carry out. In business, shop, and office we often have to meet wicked persons, to do business with them, to work at their side. We have to know them — we cannot help ourselves. But we must not know more of them than we can help — we must not be friends with them. Acquaintances they may be, but never friends. "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land that they may dwell with me." Whoever we cast our eyes upon does well with us in a very real sense. "I am a part of all that I have met." We cannot help being imitative, we reproduce what we see over and over again. So must we fix our eyes upon those who do good and are good, upon those whose atmosphere is purest and most reverent. But mark now that the psalmist has no sooner made this great resolve, than he realizes that the task is beyond him. It requires more wisdom and strength than he possesses. So in the midst of his resolution the prayer breaks from his heart, "O when wilt Thou come unto me?" For such behaviour as this the etiquette of high society is useless — it is the grace of God that we want; not more education, but more love — that love which "doth not behave itself unseemly." "O when wilt Thou come unto me?" That question is soon answered. When will a father run to his child in need? "When wilt Thou come?" Why, He is "not far from any one of us" — "closer than breathing and nearer than hands or feet." Our very feebleness and frailty make irresistible appeal to Him.
(W. A. L. Taylor, B.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.