A Psalm of David
1 Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed,
Let not mine enemies triumph over me.
3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed:
Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord;
Teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
For thou art the God of my salvation;
On thee do I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving-kindnesses;
For they have been ever of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to thy mercy remember thou me,
For thy goodness sake, O Lord.
8 Good and upright is the Lord:
Therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment:
And the meek will he teach his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
Unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For thy names sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity;
For it is great.
12 What man is he that feareth the Lord?
Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease;
And his seed shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;
And he will shew them his covenant.
15 Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord;
For he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me;
For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged:
O bring thou me out of my distresses.
18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain;
And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 O keep my soul, and deliver me:
Let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me;
For I wait on thee.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all his troubles.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Its Form and Contents.This is one of the nine alphabetical Psalm, resembling in most respects Psalm 34.; for in both Psalm the strophe with ו is missing, both have an additional strophe with פ and resemble one another in thought and expression in corresponding strophes. It is uncertain whether some inaccuracies (the absence of the ק and the use of ר twice) are due to the author or the copyist, since they are easily obviated, as in Psalm 25:2. There is not the least occasion for the supposition of a subsequent addition of a closing strophe (Rosenm.). The alphabetical form is regarded by many, without reason, as a subsequent refinement. There is nothing to favor this but the loose connection of the clauses. Yet there is not perceptible here a mere wreath of prayers, which have been gathered together by an alphabetical arrangement of current Proverbs, but there is an advance in the different phases of the fundamental thought that God helps the pious. For the Psalmist turns to Jehovah in prayer ( Psalm 25:1), and bases his trust in Gods help against his enemies ( Psalm 25:2) on the general experience of the Divine treatment of those who trust in God and those who are faithless ( Psalm 25:3). Therefore he prays for instruction and guidance in the ways of Jehovah, the God of his salvation, in whom he trusts ( Psalm 25:4-5), and this mercy which has been shown to men from of old, he now implores ( Psalm 25:6), with confession of sin ( Psalm 25:7), and with an appeal to the nature of God, and His dealings, which have originated from His nature ( Psalm 25:8-9), with sinners and the wretched, as well as with those who observe His law ( Psalm 25:10). And he refers back to his personal needs ( Psalm 25:11), the satisfaction of which is confidently expected, since he has the necessary prerequisites and conditions ( Psalm 25:12-15). The importunate prayer for immediate help rises on this foundation in connection with all the motives previously adduced ( Psalm 25:16-21) and ends with the closing sigh for the deliverance of all the people from all their needs ( Psalm 25:22).Even this turn of thought does not necessarily lead to a later period of composition. On the other hand the individual features are not concrete enough, to refer them directly to historical events in the life of David.This Psalm has especial significance to the Church from the fact that the name of the 2 d Sunday in Lent has originated from the Latin word which begins Psalm 25:6 [Reminiscere Sunday], the name of the 3 d Sunday from Psalm 25:15 [Oculi]; and that Selnekkers dying hymn, Allein nach dir, Herr Jesu Christ. has originated from Psalm 25:1, and the whole Psalm has been given in Gerhardts hymn. Nach dir, o Golt, verlanget mich.
[Str. I. Psalm 25:1. Unto Thee, Jehovah.Perowne: This is emphatic, not to any false god, or to any human deliverer. Similarly Psalm 25:2; Psalm 25:5.Do I lift up my soul.Delitzsch: In need of help and longing for salvation he lifts his soul, withdrawn from all earthly desires, to Jehovah; the God who alone can grant that which truly satisfies. His Ego, which has the soul in itself, gives to it the direction upward to Him, whom he names my God [ Psalm 25:2], because he cleaves fast to Him and is united to Him in the confidence of faith.
Psalm 25:3. Yea, none that wait on Thee shall be ashamed.Perowne: The writer passes from the optative, with אַל (μή), Psalm 25:2, to the future, with לֹא (ὄυ). He here expresses not so much a general truth as his own individual conviction, and includes tacitly himself in the number of those who thus hope. The Sept. is mistaken, in returning, in the second clause of the verse, to the optative [So A. V.]. For the sentiment, comp. Romans 5:5, ἡ δὲ ἐλπὶς ὀυ καταισχύναι.Delitzsch: Hope is the eye of faith, which looks clearly and fixedly into the future.Ashamed shall be the traitors without cause.Alexander: The position of the verbs, at the end and the beginning of the successive clauses, give a peculiar turn to the sentence, which is lost in some translations.Without cause qualifies the word immediately preceding, and describes the enemy not only as perfidious, but as acting so gratuitously and without provocation.C. A. B.]
[Str. II. Psalm 25:4. Thy ways, Jehovah, make me to know.Barnes: The ways of God are His methods of administering the affairs of the world; His dispensations; the rules which He has prescribed for Himself in the execution of His plans; the great laws by which He governs the universe.
Psalm 25:5. Lead me in Thy truth.Alexander: The obvious meaning of this verse, interpreted according to New Testament and modern usage, would be that of prayer for Divine instruction in religious truth or doctrine. But the usage of the Psalm, and the preceding context, are in favor of explaining truth to mean the veracity of God, or the faithful performance of His promises. See Psalm 30:9; Psalm 71:22; Psalm 91:4. The teaching asked is then experimental teaching or the actual experience of Gods faithfulness.God of my salvationBarnes: The word salvation is not to be understood here in the sense in which it is now commonly used, as denoting deliverance from sin and future ruin, but in the more general sense of deliverancedeliverance from danger and death.C. A. B.]
[Str. III. Psalm 25:6. For from everlasting are they.Hupfeld: The grace of God is often thus designated, e.g. Psalm 100:5; Psalm 103:17, especially in the refrain which has become a formula, for His mercy endureth forever, Psalm 136, et al. The remembrance of this and appeal to this is especially appropriate in times of trouble, when God hides His face and seems to have forgotten His suppliant.
Psalm 25:7. The sins of my youth and my transgressions.Hupfeld: Sins of youth, because youth, as the time of hot sensuousness and passion, is especially inclined to such errors as those designated by חטּאות, whilst the פשׁעים are more appropriate to the cold and reflective age of manhood. The mention of both together, that Isaiah, the sins of youth and manhood, shows that in praying for forgiveness he thinks not only of the more recent sins, but is conscious of having heaped sin upon sin from the earliest times, and he bows under this burden (Calvin).C. A. B.]
[Str. IV. Psalm 25:9. He will guide the humble,etc.Alexander: The common version of ענוים, meek, is too restricted and descriptive of mere temper. The Hebrew word is the nearest equivalent to humble in its strong religious sense. The omission of the article may be explained as a poetic license, and the word translated the humble so as to include the whole class. But the intimate connection between this verse and the one before it makes it more natural to take ענוים as a description of the sinners mentioned in Psalm 25:8, who are then of course to be regarded as penitent, believing sinners, i.e. as true converts.C. A. B.]
[Str. V. Psalm 25:10. Grace and truth.Delitzsch: These paths are חֶסֶד, for the salvation of men is their end, and אֱמֶת, for they confirm at every step the reliability of His promises. But only those who were true and obedient to His covenant and testimonies, were partakers of such grace and truth. The name of Jehovah, which unfolds in grace and truth, is dear to the Psalmist.C. A. B.]
Str. VI. [ Psalm 25:12. The way that he should choose (A. V, shall choose.).This is the rendering of Moll, Hupf, Perowne, et al, and is better. Luther, followed by Ewald, translates, den beaten Weg.
Psalm 25:13. His soul shall dwell in good (A. V, at ease).Perowne: Literally, to pass the night, but used in the more extended sense as in Psalm 49:12; Psalm 91:1; Proverbs 19:23.Alexander: In good, not goodness, but good fortune or prosperity.His seed shall possess the land.Alexander: The verb translated shall possess, denotes specifically to inherit or possess as an inheritance, i.e. from generation to generation, in perpetual succession.The land, to wit, the land of Canaan; and as this was the standing promise of the law, uttered even in the decalogue ( Exodus 20:12), it became a formula for all the blessings implicitly embraced in the promise of Canaan to the ancient Israel, and is so used even by our Lord Himself ( Matthew 5:5).C. A. B.]
[So Alexander and Barnes. Hupfeld renders friendship, but gives secret in the margin.C. A. B.]. Others, after Theodot, prefer the meaning, secret [A. V, so also Delitzsch and Perowne.[FN29]C. A. B.], because in intimate association, Psalm 55:14 sq, there is a free expression and sharing of secrets ( Job 19:19). Symmach. renders it ὁμιλία; Aquil. ἀπόῥῥητον, after the meaning which became usual only afterwards; Sept. κραταίωμα (Vulg. firmamentum), confounding it with יְסוֹד
[ Psalm 25:15. My eyes ever towards Jehovah.Hupfeld: We must supply either נשׁאתי, I lift, Psalm 123:1 (comp. Psalm 121:1), or look, as Psalm 33:18. It indicates looking out for help from God, whether in anxiety (comp. Psalm 121:1), or, as here, confidently=with hope and trust in Him.From the net.Alexander: The figure of a net is a favorite one for dangers arising from the craft and spite of enemies. Vid. Psalm 9:15; Psalm 10:9.C. A. B.]
Str. VIII. Psalm 25:17. Distresses have extended themselves over my heart.Since to enlarge ones self, likewise=to add to ones extent, it is unnecessary to depart from the interpretation which prevailed among all ancient interpreters, of the extending of distresses, which is likewise indicated by the vowel points. Most recent interpreters, however, change the reading by connecting the וּ with the following word, and thus by changing the vowel points get the imperative form harchibh. Thus they gain a complete parallelism with the following member of the verse.[FN30]
[Str. IX. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.Delitzsch: That piety which fills the whole man and not that which divides his heart or is hypocritical, is called תֹּם, and that honesty which goes after the Divine will, without going astray or in crooked ways, is called ישֶׁרthese two fundamental virtues (comp. Job 1:1) he wishes to be the guardians of his way, which is dangerous, not only on account of external enemies, but likewise on account of his own sinfulness: they are not to let him go out of their sight, that he may not withdraw himself from them (comp. Psalm 40:12; Proverbs 20:28). He can claim this for himself, because the object of his hope is God, from whom תם and ישׁרֹ go forth as good angels.C. A. B.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Where the soul is really directed towards God, it is full of seeking for help and longing for salvation. In this is the warrant of deliverance, as the conditions of salvation and the certainty of answer to prayer, consist in trust in God, which does not ask that God should make this special case an exception, but rather relies upon the sureness and faithfulness of God, which are manifested and proved in His government, which is always the same, in the deliverance of the pious, and the punishment of the faithless, who break the covenant without cause.
2. It is necessary, on this account, to walk in the ways of God and pray for enlightenment and guidance, because His ways are grace and truth ( Psalm 25:10; comp. Psalm 26:3; Psalm 86:11; John 1:17). Accordingly they cannot be known or found without God, neither can any one walk in them or remain in them without Him. Yet those who hope continually and uninterruptedly in God may expect such gracious help from the God of salvation.
3. However, we must not only pray for assisting grace, but likewise for pardoning mercy. For we may say on the one hand: Because our sins set up a partition between us and God, so that He does not hear our wishes, or stretch forth His hand to help us, David now takes this hindrance away; he confesses that he cannot share in the grace of God except by having his sins blotted out (Calvin). On the other hand, the forgiveness of sins is that declaration of Divine grace by which the mercy of God has from the earliest times been historically made known to sinners as proper to the being of God, and which as the expression of His favor and love accomplishes the salvation of men. This the Psalmist claims for himself, on this account, partly by appealing to the remembrance of God; partly by referring to his own personal previous transgressions, particularly to the sins of his youth; for where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and blessedness (Luther); and if our sins are many, His grace is much more.
4. Now as sure as the safe direction of sinners and guidance in the right not only come from God, but likewise, as based upon the Being of God, give expression to the excellence of His Being; Song of Solomon, moreover, it is just as sure that it is necessary that there should be a corresponding behaviour on the part of those who would attain the salvation to which grace points and leads, and would experience in themselves the truth, that Isaiah, the reliability of the Divine declarations and actions, at every step of the way. It is not the greatness and grievousness of the sins that in themselves exclude from salvation, but the lack of forgiveness of sins when it is neither sought nor found. Therefore we must hold fast to the covenant and testimonies of God. For though they disclose the misery of Prayer of Manasseh, yet they likewise unveil the depths of the Divine mercy, reveal the name of God, whose ways are grace and truth, and offer the means of atonement and forgiveness to those who would use them. Therefore, this is our Theology, which we pray in the Lords prayer; forgive us our debts in order that we may know that we live under grace alone. Grace, moreover, not only takes away sins, but likewise endures them and bears them (Luther).
5. But all this is said not that we may sin wantonly, but that we may not despair with the knowledge of the greatness and grievousness of our sins, in the feeling of our weakness and our misery, under the chastisements and sufferings which arise from our guilt. It is that we may be comforted by the grace of God, invoke the mercies of the Lord, and lay hold of and use the means of salvation offered in the gracious covenant, in order that we may walk in the right ways pointed out to us. Thus we are to attain that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of all Wisdom of Solomon, and which finally leads to the friendship of Jehovah and to that love which is the fulfilment of the law ( Romans 13:10; comp. Ecclesiastes 13:12). This brings blessings to our own persons and to our posterity ( Deuteronomy 5:3; Deuteronomy 11:21).
6. Thus the soul of the pious may at times be overwhelmed with anxiety of heart as with a flood and may feel itself solitary and wretched, especially when the snares in which he has become entangled are about to be drawn together as a net; yet he is never really forsaken and hopeless, so long as he can lift up his eyes to the Lord and bring before God in prayer and supplication the condition of his heart and take refuge against the assaults of all his enemies in faith in the Almighty as His Helper. Oculi mei ad te, oculs ergo tui vicissim ad me; respice in me, ut suspicio in te (Gassiodor). There is an interchange between trust and faithfulness, as between uprightness and salvation.
7. Within the covenant of grace the individual feels not only in communion and intercourse with God, but likewise united as a member of the people of the covenant. From his personal needs his individual feeling of pain is enlarged so that he sympathizes with the troubles of the congregation, and from this arises comprehensive love, in like trust in the God of the community and often indeed at the same time in supplication that the general as well as the particular distress may be removed. The prayer has accordingly become intercession, and remains, likewise in this respect, directed to the God of the covenant. It may address Him, moreover, with the universal name of God (Elohim), because it has to do with the Divine help as such.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
We can never do better than: 1) trust the faithfulness of God; 2) look to Gods truth; 3) build on Gods grace.It is good in trouble to take refuge with God; but it is not enough to implore deliverance from earthly need, we must likewise pray for forgiveness of sins, for the cause of all misery is in sin.To lift up the soul to God is to begin the lifting of the entire man out of all need.He who would obtain salvation must walk in the ways of God, but he needs for this Divine instruction and guidance; both he will gain by praying for them as a needy suppliant.However tar back we may look, we find human sin and Divine mercy; and it is necessary and good for us to be reminded of both in our misery, but likewise to think of this, that Gods mercy extends still farther back and springs from the perfect Being of God.How it will fare with us, depends finally upon the ways in which we walk.Those who fear God obtain the friendship of God and an abiding blessing for themselves and their posterity.There are three things which are most oppressive and often prepare great anxiety of heart: 1) many and unrighteous enemies; 2) many and grievous sins; 3) many and well-deserved troubles. Against this anxiety there Isaiah, however, a threefold remedy: 1) trust in the assistance of the Almighty God; 2) the comfort of forgiveness of sins by Gods grace; 3) the prayer for redemption by the God of salvation.Grace and truth on the part of God, bad and right on the part of men, this is the best meeting, the most powerful blessing, and the surest preserving.He who would fare well let him remain: 1) walking in the ways of God; 2) holding to the law and testimonies of God; 3) trusting in the name of God.Let us not forget in our particular troubles the general need, but rather hold in close connection our own personal salvation with the welfare of our people and the congregation of God, and by prayer and intercession bear witness to the communion in which God has placed us, strengthen and enlarge it.God is the best treasure and the best protection.
Starke: The true lifting of the heart to God is the true worship of God in the spirit and the chief power of the life of true faith.True living hope in God is the sure and only ground of true consolation, by which the spirit rests in God and His promises as a ship at anchor.The ways and stairs of God are known to no creature so well as to Himself; therefore He can give us the best instruction in them.It is not enough to be taught of men, we must go to school to God, that Isaiah, resign ourselves obediently to the guidance and training of the Holy Spirit.God would justify sinners, but likewise sanctify them.God will not lead the strong, who regard themselves as able, but the weak and miserable, who recognize their weakness and inability.All true penitents regard their sins as great; and all believers regard the name of the Lord, that Isaiah, His grace, as still greater.He who will not fear the Lord, cannot enjoy His gracious guidance in the blessed way.The blessing of a believer does not die with him, but rests certainly on his posterity, provided that they follow his faith.The cross has this advantage among others, that we are thereby more occupied with God.The snares which Satan and the world put about the Christian are innumerable, and, without the assistance of God, unavoidable; therefore it is necessary to watch and pray.The communion of saints demands that we always include in our prayers the affairs of all the children of God.
Luther: If we forget our sins, grace will be little thought of by us ( 1 Peter 1:9). Moreover, we do not thank God if we forget our sins. Moreover, if we do not thank God, then we feel safe, and are bold to commit grievous sins and blasphemies.Osiander: The impenitent cannot comfort themselves with Divine help, but the penitent are never to despair of His grace.The cross and trouble are very good to induce us to leave off sin and lead an honorable life.It is simple paternal faithfulness, what God does with us poor sinners, although at times it has a different appearance to our mind.Selnekker: The lamentation of the saints Isaiah, half a saint and entirely a sinner. There is now no other counsel than to own and confess our sins and pray for their forgiveness; we are and live under grace.Renschel: Confess your guilt; trust in Gods mercy; wait with patience; hold fast to the Word, the refuge of the soul; pray always.Frisch: The praying Psalmist, 1) testifies his faith, a) by longing after God, b) by trust in God; 2) he seeks Gods grace, a) to govern him, b) to forgive him; 3) he praises a) Gods goodness, and b) the welfare of the pious; 4) he implores help, a) for himself, b) for the whole Church.Herberger: The deeper the source of prayer within the heart, the stronger is its impulse upwards through the clouds of heaven.If God is your God, then all that God is is yours, His grace, His help, His heaven; therefore you may be glad.Two kinds of ways belong to Christianity: 1) the thankful way of life and virtue, 2) the right stairway of faith and heaven.Von Gerlach: Grace and truth are the two stars, which David had constantly in view in his walk.Tholuck: As fire must be kept up by coals, so the flames of our prayers need constant invigoration by keeping before us the universal truths of our religion, in which we believe.The way of the fear of God is the best of all ways; by it the soul reaches its true home and takes possession of it forever.Umbreit: God teaches sinners His way by righteousness and goodness. Righteousness must punish them in order to make known the wickedness of their way; goodness leads them back in contrition and penitence to that which they have renounced in their own wicked wills.Baihinger: Salvation and happiness from Jehovah are the inseparable companions of the fear of God.Taube: The ways of God are of two kinds: the one in which He goes to us and with us; and the one in which we must go to Him.The true desire after God is when His glory draws and your need drives you to Him.
[Matth. Henry: Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God; God must be eyed, and the soul employed; sursumcorda,up with your hearts, was anciently used as a call to devotion.Those are the worst transgressors that sin for sinnings sake.If we sincerely desire to know our duty, with a resolution to do it, we need not question, but that God will direct us in it.It is Gods goodness and not ours, His mercy and not our own merit, that must be our plea for the pardon of sin, and all the good we stand in need of.The devil leads men blindfold to hell; but God enlightens mens eyes, sets things before them in a true light, and so leads them to heaven.They that receive the truth in the love of it, and experience the power of it, best understand the mystery of it.Sincerity will be our best security in the worst of times.Integrity and uprightness will be a mans preservation more than the wealth and honor of the world can be.In heaven, and in heaven only, will Gods Israel be perfectly redeemed from all troubles.Barnes: It is always true that we are dependent on God for everything; it is not true that we always feel this.Religion is not selfish. The mind under the influence of true piety, however intensely it may feel its own trouble, and however earnestly it may pray for deliverance, is not forgetful of the troubles of others; and prayers for their comfort and deliverance are freely mingled with those which the afflicted children of God offer for themselves.Spurgeon: It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us to God, and then draws us near to Him. As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no hope left.Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize.We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs, if they preserve us from chronic hard-heartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him.If the Lord will only do unto us in the future as in the past, we shall be well content. We seek no change in the Divine action, we only crave that the river of grace may never cease to flow.Proud of their own Wisdom of Solomon, fools will not learn, and therefore miss their road to heaven, but lowly hearts sit at Jesus feet, and find the gate of glory. Blessed teacher! Favored scholar! Divine lesson! My soul, be thou familiar with the whole.Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant; those who follow the Lords commands shall find the Lords mercy following them.We all wish to choose our way; but what a mercy is it when the Lord directs that choice, and makes free-will to be good-will! If we make our will Gods will, God will let us have our will.Saints have the key of heavens hieroglyphics; they can unriddle celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies; they have heard words which it is not possible for them to repeat to their fellows.Blessed is the man to whom sin is more unbearable than disease, he shall not be long before the Lord shall both forgive his iniquity and heal his diseases. Men are slow to see the intimate connection between sin and sorrow, a grace-taught heart alone feels it.C. A. B.]
FN#29 - Perowne: As God said, Genesis 18:17, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? Or the word may mean close and intimate communion, in which God makes Himself known to the soul. See Psalm 55:14; Proverbs 3:22; Job 29:4. God alone possesses the truth, for He is the truth, and therefore He alone can impart it, and He impart, it only to them that fear Him. So Wordsworth: He sits, as it were, as a guest and friend, and converses familiarly with them. Comp. John 14:23, If any man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him; and see Revelation 3:20.C. A. B.]
FN#30 - Perowne: As the text now stands, we can only render Distresses have enlarged my heart, i.e. have made room for themselves, as it were, that they might come in and fill it; or have rushed in like a flood of water, swelling the stream till it overflows its banks, and so spreads itself over a wider surface. Unless, indeed, we take the word in the same meaning as in Psalm 119:32, where to enlarge the heartto open it to instruction. But that sense is scarcely suitable here. Most modern editors read הרחיב וּממצוקתּי (imperat.). The rendering then is: My heart is troubled (i.e. is nothing but troubles, is full of troubles), O set it at liberty! And out of my distresses, etc.C. A. B.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 25". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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