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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Psalms 25

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 25:1 « [A Psalm] of David. » Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

A Psalm of David] An excellent psalm; the second of those seven called by the ancients penitential; and such as may well serve us for a pattern of our daily prayers; as wherein David beggeth three things (answerable to those two last petitions in the Lord’s prayer), first, pardon of sin; secondly, guidance of God’s good Spirit; thirdly, defence against his enemies (Beza). It appeareth that this psalm was made by David when he was well in years, Psalms 25:7, after his sin in the matter of Uriah (that great iniquity, as he calleth it, Psalms 25:11, saith Vatablus), and some gather, from Psalms 25:19, that he framed this psalm when Absalom was up in arms against him, Psalms 25:19 (compared with Psalms 3:1). See also Psalms 25:15; Psalms 25:22. It may seem therefore that when he came to Mahanaim, 2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 17:27 (where God showed him marvellous lovingkindness in a strong city, Psalms 31:21, and wherehence he was at the people’s request to help them, or to cause them to be helped, viz. by his hearty prayers for God’s assistance, 2 Samuel 18:3), he composed this psalm with more than ordinary artifice, viz. in order of alphabet, as he hath done also some few others, both for the excellency of the matter and likewise for help of memory; for which cause also St Matthew summeth up the genealogy of Christ into three fourteens; all helps being but little enough. Nazianzen and Sedulius have done the like; the former in his holy alphabet, Aρχην απαντων, &c., and the latter in his hymn, A Solis ortus cardine Beatus auctor saeculi, &c.

Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul] i.e. Praeparo cor meum, saith R. Solomon. My heart maketh its faithful addresses to thee (and not any other), with strength of desire and delight, with earnest expectation and hope of relief. Ad te orando non ad idola. See Jeremiah 22:27, Deuteronomy 24:15, Psalms 86:5, Cyprian saith, that in the primitive times the minister was wont to prepare the people’s minds to pray by prefacing Sursum corda, Lift up your hearts. The Jews at this day write upon the walls of their synagogues these words, Tephillah belo cavannah ceguph belo neshamah; that is, a prayer without the intention of the affection, is like a body without a soul; and yet their devotion is a mere outside, saith one, a brainless head, and a soulless body; Antiquum obtinent, Isaiah 29:13, Buxtorf. Abbreviat. This people draweth nigh to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. A carnal man can as little lift up his heart in prayer as a mole can fly. A David finds it a hard task; since the best heart is lumpish, and naturally beareth downward, as the poise of a clock, as the lead of a net. Let us, theretbre, lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us; and pray God to draw us up to himself, as the loadstone doth the iron, &c.


Verse 2

Psalms 25:2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

Ver. 2. O my God, I trust in thee] I pray in faith, which is as the fire, and my prayer as the flame that ariseth out of it. Faith is the foundation of prayer; and prayer is the fervency of faith. Now David knew that the hand of faith never knocketh at the gate of grace in vain.

Let me not be ashamed] Shame is the daughter of disappointment. This David deprecateth; Quaeque repulsa gravis. See Job 6:20.

Let not mine enemies triumph over me] By saying that I pray to no purpose, as Rabshakeh did, Isaiah 35:6. I say (saith Hezekiah) I have words of my lips, prayer; prayer? but alas, what is that more than empty words, an airy nothing? Counsel and strength are for the battle. Thus he.


Verse 3

Psalms 25:3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Ver. 3. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed] Be nosed and twitted with my disappointments, as they are sure to be if I be repulsed by thee and worsted by mine enemies; all thy praying people shall have it cast in their teeth and laid in their dish.

Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause] Let shame be sent to the right owner, even to those that deal disloyally, unprovoked on my part. And so it was; for Ahithophel hanged himself; Absalom was trussed up by the hand of God, and despatched by Joab; the people that conspired with him partly perished by the sword, and partly fled home, much ashamed of their enterprise. Oh the power of prayer! what may not the saints have for asking!


Verse 4

Psalms 25:4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD teach me thy paths.

Ver. 4. Show me thy ways, O Lord] q.d. However other men walk towards me, yet my desire is to keep touch with thee; for which purpose I humbly beg thy best direction. See Exodus 33:13, Isaiah 2:3.

Teach me thy paths] Assuefac me ; inure me to thy paths, Sicut parvulus ad ambulandum assuetus, saith Kimchi, as a little one is taught to find his feet.


Verse 5

Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou [art] the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Ver. 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me] i.e. Assidue doce et urge. David was a great proficient in God’s school, and yet he would learn more; so sweet is divine knowledge. Four times together here prayeth David to be further instructed. See Moses in like manner holily encroaching upon God, Exodus 33:12-13; Exodus 33:16; Exodus 33:18, as if his motto had been that of Charles V, Ulterius, More yet.

For thou art the God of my salvation] Perfect, therefore, that which concerneth me. "Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of thine own hands," Psalms 138:8. Thou hast written me down in thy book of preservation with thine own hand. Oh read thine own handwriting, and save me, said Queen Elizabeth in her troubles.


Verse 6

Psalms 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they [have been] ever of old.

Ver. 6. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies] Heb. thy bowels, which thou mayest seem to have lost, but I shall find them for thee. Where are thy bowels and thy compassions? are they restrained? If thou hast forgotten them (but that cannot be) I shall be thy remembrancer, and read them over unto thee out of the register of a sanctified memory.

For they have been ever of old] Etiam ad Adamum, qui vixit quasi mille annis, Ever since Adam, and so onward, saith R. Solomon; and why not then to me, who am one of thine, to whom thy mercy successively belongeth in my generation, as it did to mine ancestors in theirs?


Verse 7

Psalms 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth] Which, though long since committed, must not be remembered without remorse; since for them God often punisheth men in their age, Job 13:26, Jeremiah 3:25. It is not the last sand that emptieth the hour glass, nor the last blow that throweth down the oak. Sin may sleep a long time, like a sleeping debt, not called for of many years; as Saul’s sin in slaying the Gibeonites, not punished till forty years after; as Joab’s killing of Abner slept all David’s days, &c. It is not safe to be at odds with the Ancient of days. This David knew, and, therefore, was willing to clear all old scores, to get pardon for youthful lusts, lest they should put a sting into his present sufferings. And that being thoroughly done, as he could expect mercy and direction from God, so if any should maliciously upbraid him with his bygone iniquities he could answer, as Austin did in like case, Quae tu reprehendis, ego damnavi, What thou reprehendest in me I have long since condemned in myself. And as reverend Beza, when a spiteful Papist hit him in the teeth with his wanton poems set forth in his youth, and long before repented of, Hic homo invidet mihi gratiam Christi, This fellow, said he, envieth me the grace of Jesus Christ.

Nor my transgressions] Or, prevarications, in personam Uriae, in the matter of Uriah, saith R. Obadiah; the sins of mine age, saith Kimchi; all my faults of former and later time, saith another. David was well in years when he defiled himself with Bathsheba. In many young men the rose is cankered in the bud. And again, as the canker soonest entereth into the white rose, so doth corruption easily creep into the white head. David prayeth God to forgive him his sins, both of former and of latter time; and not to forgive them only, but to forget them too; "Remember not the sins," &c. And as he fitly joineth memory of mercies and forgetfulness of sins, so he forgetteth not to subjoin,

According to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord] Do all of free grace, not for any motive or merit of mine. Lorinus, a Jesuit, here bringeth in sundry passages (as well he may), Psalms 6:8; Psalms 51:3; Psalms 69:14; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 86:15; Psalms 106:45; Psalms 119:156; Psalms 136:7; Daniel 9:18;, Isaiah 55:7, to prove that all is of mercy, and not of merits.


Verse 8

Psalms 25:8 Good and upright [is] the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Ver. 8. Good and upright is the Lord] i.e. Gracious and righteous, or faithful; and hence it is that our God is merciful, as Psalms 116:5; hence it is that we poor creatures are not overwhelmed, aut magnitudine peccatorum, aut mole calamitatum, either with the greatness of our sins, or the multitude of our miseries.

Therefore will he teach sinners in the way] i.e. Sensible sinners, meek and mortified, as in the next verse, self-judging, and self-condemned; those will he teach to turn to him, and to walk before him in all well pleasing; and this doctrine of election must needs be good, because he is good; and certain, because he is upright.


Verse 9

Psalms 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment] Or, the poor (viz. in spirit) will he make to tread in judgment; to foot it aright, to walk judiciously, to behave themselves wisely, as David did, 1 Samuel 10:14, so that Saul feared him, 1 Samuel 23:22. Natural conscience cannot but stoop to the image of God, shining in the hearts and lives of the really religious.

And the meek will he teach his way] Such as lie at his feet, and say, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth; such as whose hearts are supple and soluble, tractable and teachable, so as that a little child may lead them, Isaiah 11:6. Austin was such a one, En adsum senex, saith he, a iuvene coepiscopo episcopus tot annorum, a collega nondum anniculo paratus sum discere, i.e. I am here an old man, ready to learn of a young man, my coadjutor in the ministry, who hath scarce been one year in the service (Aug. Epist. 75, ad Arvil. Epis.).


Verse 10

Psalms 25:10 All the paths of the LORD [are] mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Ver. 10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth] All the passages and proceedings, both ordinantial and providential, whereby he cometh and communicateth himself to his people, are not only mercy (though that is very sweet), but truth; they come to them in a way of a promise from God, as bound to them by covenant; this is soul-satisfying indeed; this turns all that a man hath to cream, when every mercy is a present sent him from heaven by virtue of a promise.

Unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies] i.e. His law (that singular testimony of his goodness towards them), called a covenant, because he bargaineth with us, as it were, that we should keep it; which because we can never do, he undertaketh to perform his own part and ours too. Lex iubet, gratis iuvat, he worketh all our works in us, and for us; he giveth us to be what he biddeth us to be: this is the everlasting covenant, and the fruits of it are sure mercies, compassions that fail not.


Verse 11

Psalms 25:11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it [is] great.

Ver. 11. For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity] Never did prisoner at the bar beg more earnestly for his life than David did for pardon of his great offence, especially in the matter of Uriah; for that lay heaviest. Peccatum cum Bathsheba cuius petit antehac remissionem, et nunc repeto (R. David). Could he but get off the guilt of that, it were an easy matter for him to glory in tribulations with Paul, Romans 5:3, and to cry out, with Luther, Feri Domine, feri; nam a peccatis absolutus sum: Smite, Lord, smite; for I am a pardoned sinner, and therefore all is in mercy, and for good.

For it is great] But that is nothing to so great a God, who delightest in mercy, and makest thy power appear in pardoning the many and horrid sins of thy poor penitents. The high heaven covereth as well tall mountains as small mole hills. The vast ocean swalloweth up huge rocks as well as little pebbles. St Paul was (for the first table) a blasphemer, and (for the second table) a persecutor, and injurious; "but I obtained mercy," saith he; and why? that the grace of our Lord might appear to be exceeding abundant, even to an overflow, 1 Timothy 1:13-14, and that the glory of free grace might be so much the more manifested, Romans 5:20. The more desperate was my disease the greater is the glory of my Physician, who hath fully cured me, said Austin once to one, who upbraided him with his former loose living.


Verse 12

Psalms 25:12 What man [is] he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way [that] he shall choose.

Ver. 12. What man is he that feareth the Lord?] This question implieth, first, a paucity of such, as Hosea 14:9; secondly, the felicity of such as, out of a reverential fear of God, sue to him for pardon of sin, and seek to be made his servants. O quanta est felicitas istius viri! Oh the heaped up happiness of such a rare man! (Vatab.) David admireth it here (utitur exclamations Mol.); and well he may, for he hath close communion with God, and sweet communication of Christ’s secrets, as followeth.

Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose] i.e. That the good man shall pitch upon. God will direct him in all dealings to make a good choice; and will give good success. This is not in a man’s own power to do, Jeremiah 10:23. But the "steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way," Psalms 37:23. He was a pillar of fire and cloud to the Israelites, Exodus 14:19, and carefully chose out their way for them; not the nearest alway, but yet the safest.


Verse 13

Psalms 25:13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.

Ver. 13. His soul shall dwell at ease] Heb. shall lodge in good, even then when his body haply is tossing on his sick bed, and at great unrest, Conquiescet quemadmodum de nocte quiesci solet (Trcmel.). One being asked how he did? answered, My body is weak, my soul is well. He shall be freed from the devil of discontent, and have a blessed self sufficiency; such, and better than he had whom Horace describeth, Epod. 2, Beatus ille qui procul negotiis, &c.; blessed is that man who is far from trouble, such as good Jacob had, when he said, I have enough, my brother, &c. Godliness only hath such a contentedness, 1 Timothy 6:6.

And his seed shall inherit the earth] God’s love dieth not with the parents; but reviveth in their posterity, 2 Samuel 7:12.

Eυσεβεων παιδεσσι τα λωια, δυσσεβεων δ ου.

It would be a great stay of mind to us, if God should say of our children, as once David did of Mephibosheth, and afterwards of Chimham, I will take care of them, and see them well provided for. He doth upon the matter say as much and more to every believer.


Verse 14

Psalms 25:14 The secret of the LORD [is] with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him] It is neither learning nor labour that can give insight into God’s secrets, those Arcana imperii, Matthew 13:12, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, "the mind of Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:16; these things come by revelation rather than discourse of reason, and must therefore be obtained by prayer. Those that diligently seek him shall be of his cabinet council, shall know his soul secrets, and be admitted into a gracious familiarity and friendship: John 15:15, "Hence forth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth: but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you."

And he will show them his covenant] As having no greater secret to impart to them, than by showing them the covenant of grace, his good pleasure and purpose of their eternal salvation; to make them "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fulness of God," Ephesians 3:19. The Jews bragged much of God’s covenant, but here they are given to understand, that only such as fear God are covenanters. Acts 13:16, "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience."


Verse 15

Psalms 25:15 Mine eyes [are] ever toward the LORD for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Ver. 15. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord] I look him full in the face, and confidently expect deliverance. This he speaketh, saith one, in reference to the army that he had sent out to meet Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:1, nothing doubting of getting the day.

For he shall pluck my feet out of the net] Of evil concupiscence, saith Aben Ezra; rather of my foes, those crafty and cruel fowlers.


Verse 16

Psalms 25:16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I [am] desolate and afflicted.

Ver. 16. Turn thee unto me] Heb. Face about towards me.

And have mercy upon me] There being no such mercy as to have thy favour. This is a voluminous mercy.

For I am desolate and afflicted] As all creatures flag and hang the head when the sun is eclipsed. Misery is an object of mercy; as it was to the compassionate Samaritan.


Verse 17

Psalms 25:17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: [O] bring thou me out of my distresses.

Ver. 17. The troubles of my heart are enlarged] Whereby my heart is sorely straitened, so that I can hardly breathe: Oh, "hide not thine ear at my breathing," at my cry, Lamentations 3:56. En patet in curas area lata meas; all afflictions enter into mine heart, as by a wide gate (R. Obad.). Cor vix capax tribulationum mearum (Vat.).

Out of my distresses] Wherewith I am pent up and pinched; as afterwards Paul was pricked with the messenger of Satan.


Verse 18

Psalms 25:18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

Ver. 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain] My griefs, under which I groan and labour, My concupiscence, saith Aben Ezra, against which I strive, but prevail not.

And forgive all my sin] Heb. lift up, take away; lay them on the true scape goat, on that Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, John 1:29.


Verse 19

Psalms 25:19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.

Ver. 19. Consider mine enemies, for they are many] This was to David half a promise, and a whole reason that he should be helped; since it was to come to an extremity. If God but look out of the pillar of cloud upon the Egyptian army, it is enough for their utter confusion, Exodus 14:24.

And they hate me with cruel hatred] Of their craft he had complained, Psalms 25:15, now of their cruelty. These are never sundered in the Church’s enemies; as the asp, they say, never goeth without his mate. See Isaiah 34:16.


Verse 20

Psalms 25:20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.

Ver. 20. O keep my soul] The repetition of the self same petition argueth earnestness, and is not always battology.

Let me not be ashamed] Rendered scornful and scandalous.


Verse 21

Psalms 25:21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Ver. 21. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me] Integrity of conscience and uprightness of conversation.

For I wait on thee] viz. For the accomplishment of thy promise, That with the upright thou wilt show thyself upright, Psalms 18:25.


Verse 22

Psalms 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Ver. 22. Redeem Israel, &c.] In vita vel post mortem meam, Either while I live, or after my death (R. David). This is every good man’s care and prayer. None is in case to pray for the Church, that hath not first made his own peace with God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 25:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-25.html. 1865-1868.

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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