A Meditation on Psalm 25
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
Psalm 25 declares David’s total reliance on God. Some of David’s appeals in the psalm will strike us as fairly conventional. He appeals to the Lord’s strength for deliverance (“Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”). He appeals to the Lord’s knowledge and wisdom for guidance (“Make me to know you ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”).
In the short space we have here, I want to focus on two of David’s appeals in the psalm that may seem less conventional to us.
First is David’s reason why God should forgive and save him: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” We may think of forgiveness as something that is primarily for us, something that primarily benefits us. Not so, according to David. Forgiveness is about the Lord’s name, His honor.
I think the most encouraging and surprising way that David depends on the Lord comes about a third of the way through the psalm: “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!” David contrasts his sin over and against the steadfast love of the Lord. God’s mercy and steadfast love are ancient, far more ancient than David’s youthful transgressions. How could David’s sin even hold a candle to the mercy and love of the Lord? Likewise for you: God’s steadfast love has been around a lot longer than you have.
Does your sinfulness loom large in your thoughts? Do you feel that asking God for His help and forgiveness is self-serving? Let this psalm correct you and free you from these false notions about God. The Lord helps His people for His name’s sake, and His grace is far greater than our sins.
May God’s blessings go with you, and may He redeem Israel from all his trouble.