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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 25

 

 

Introduction

This Psalm basically opens each line with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, moving consecutively through the Hebrew alphabet. It does not, however, do this totally consistently for W and Q are omitted and R is repeated where Q would have been. This latter may simply have been because what the writer wanted to say at that point did not provide him with an opportunity to open the line with Q, a word beginning with R providing what he wanted. The final line then repeats P which was used earlier. Interestingly the same phenomenon as this latter occurs in Psalms 34, and there also W is omitted, although Q is included. We have endeavoured to demonstrate this, a little inadequately, with English letters.

One lesson this arrangement brings home to us is that those who wrote the inspired word did it with perspiration as well as inspiration. God worked through their artistic abilities in order to produce His word. Thus they were not just channels, they were active participators. Any view of inspiration that does not take that into account is therefore false.

The Psalm can be divided into three sections, with a postscript.

· The first part is a prayer for protection and guidance from YHWH (Psalms 25:1-7).

· The second part describes the character of God and how He deals with those who fear Him (8-14).

· The third part is a further prayer, a prayer for deliverance from distress (15-21).

· The final verse is probably an inspired addition in order to fit the Psalm for corporate worship.

But there is also a pattern running through it. The opening ideas in Psalms 25:1-4 are paralleled by the closing ideas in Psalms 25:19-22 (see in the commentary below), while the prayer in Psalms 25:5-7, is paralleled in terms of its certain fulfilment because of the nature of God in Psalms 25:8-10, and is applied to all God’s people in Psalms 25:11-15. It is on the basis of this certainty that he makes his final plea in Psalms 25:15-21 (see in the commentary below).

Thus an alternative division is:

· An initial plea followed by the expression of confidence in its fulfilment (1-3).

· A plea for guidance for himself, and that YHWH will remember His covenant promises, and that he will not remember his sins (4-7).

· A confident assertion that YHWH will guide those who look to Him, and will remember His covenant towards them, followed by a further plea for the forgiveness of his iniquity (8-11).

· An indication that the one who fears YHWH will be taught by Him, and that He will reveal to them His secret things and will show His covenant to them, followed by a promise that He will pluck their feet out of the snare (12-15).

· A final plea for deliverance out of his afflictions, forgiveness for his sins, and rescue from the hands of his enemies, so that his soul might be kept in integrity and uprightness (16-21).

· A final prayer for the redemption of Israel out of all its troubles (Psalms 25:22).

Prior to considering it verse by verse we will first give a rendering of the whole Psalm so that the alphabetic sequence and the parallels in each stanza can be observed (the letters are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet).

Psalms 25:1-2

Heading.

‘A Psalm of David.’

A ‘To you, O YHWH,

Do I lift up my soul, O my God.

B ‘In you have I trusted, let me not be put to shame.

Do not let my enemies triumph over me.’

Psalms 25:3

G ‘Yes, none who wait for you will be put to shame.

They will be put to shame who deal treacherously without cause.’

D ‘Show me your ways, O YHWH.

Teach me your paths.’

Psalms 25:5

H ‘Guide me in your truth,

And teach me.

For you are the God of my salvation,

For you do I wait all the day.’

Psalms 25:6

Z ‘Remember, O YHWH, your tender mercies,

And your lovingkindness, for they have been ever of old.’

Psalms 25:7

CH ‘Do not remember the sins of my youth,

Nor my transgressions.

According to your lovingkindness remember you me,

For the sake of your goodness, O YHWH.’

Psalms 25:8

T ‘Good and upright is YHWH.

Therefore will he instruct sinners in the way.’

Psalms 25:9

Y ‘The meek will he guide in justice,

And the meek will he teach his way.’

Psalms 25:10

C ‘All the paths of YHWH are lovingkindness and truth.

To such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.’

Psalms 25:11

L ‘For your name’s sake, O YHWH,

Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.’

Psalms 25:12

M ‘What man is he who fears YHWH?

Him will he instruct in the way that he will choose.’

Psalms 25:13

N ‘His soul will dwell at ease,

And his seed will inherit the land.’

Psalms 25:14

S ‘The friendship of YHWH is with those who fear him,

And he will show them his covenant.’

Psalms 25:15

GH ‘My eyes are ever towards YHWH

For he will pluck my feet out of the net’.

Psalms 25:16

P ‘Turn you to me, and have mercy on me,

For I am desolate and afflicted.’

Psalms 25:17

TS ‘The troubles of my heart are enlarged.

Oh, do you bring me out of my distresses’.

Psalms 25:18

R ‘Consider my affliction and my travail,

And forgive all my sins.’

Psalms 25:19

R ‘Consider my enemies, for they are many,

And they hate me with cruel hatred.’

Psalms 25:20

SH ‘Oh keep my soul, and deliver me.

Do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.’

Psalms 25:21

T ‘Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,

For I wait for you.’

Psalms 25:22

P ‘Redeem Israel, O God,

Out all of his troubles.’

We will now consider the Psalm in detail.

Heading.

‘A Psalm of David.’

We have here again an indication that this is one of the Psalms associated with the house of David, and many see it as an indication that David wrote the Psalm, although no indication is given of any particular time in his life to which it might apply. But it is clearly written by someone in his maturity for he refers to the sins of his youth,


Verses 1-3

The Psalmist’s Initial Plea And Expression Of Confidence That YHWH Will Hear Him (Psalms 25:1-3).

Psalms 25:1-2

A ‘To you, O YHWH,

Do I lift up my soul, O my God.’

(The movement of ‘O my God’ to this first stanza is required by the alphabetical arrangement in the Hebrew text. Its use in the opening stanza also fits in with ‘O God’ in the final line of the Psalm, giving a solemn opening and close to the Psalm, with ‘O YHWH’ the more personal covenant Name, being used in the main body of the Psalm (Psalms 25:1; Psalms 25:4; Psalms 25:6-7; Psalms 25:11)).

It is to YHWH that he ‘lifts up’ his inner life (nephesh), recognising that YHWH is his only God. It is to YHWH and His ways that he is committing himself (in contrast to committing himself to vain things, that is, ‘lifting up his soul to vanity’ in Psalms 24:4). He is putting YHWH before anything else, offering him his very life, and he wants Him to look on him, to examine his inner life, and to observe his true faith in Him. His greatest concern is that his relationship with his God might be close, and right. How wise we are when we lift up our souls to God, that we might come under His observation.

Note how the initial ideas in these opening verses are paralleled with the closing ideas in the Psalm;

‘To you I lift up my soul’

‘O keep my soul and deliver me’ (Psalms 25:20).

‘O my God’

‘O God’ (Psalms 25:22).

‘In you have I trusted’

‘for I put my trust in you’ (Psalms 25:20).

‘Let me not be put to shame’

‘let me not be ashamed’ (Psalms 25:20).

‘Let not my enemies triumph over me

‘consider my enemies’ (Psalms 25:19).

‘None that wait on you will be ashamed’

‘for I will wait on you’ (Psalms 25:21).

So the Psalmist will end with similar thoughts to those with which he begins. Herein is the essence of the Psalm

Psalms 25:2

B ‘In you have I trusted, let me not be put to shame.

Do not let my enemies triumph over me.’

He asks YHWH to be aware that he has trusted in Him, when others have looked elsewhere, andon this ground of faithhe asks that he not be let down (put to shame) but that YHWH will prevent those who oppose him from triumphing over him. It is a reminder to us that if we have faith in God, and seek God and His Kingly Rule, everything else will be added to us, including His protection, because we will be under His Fatherly care (Matthew 6:33).

Note that the parallel in Psalms 25:19 makes clear that the opposition is both fierce and intense. ‘They are many, and they hate me with cruel hatred’. This is a heartfelt plea, not just a general request. Along with the reference to ‘those who deal treacherously’ it may well indicate a time when an anti-YHWH party were conspiring to overthrow his own stress on YHWH as Israel’s God. For having become ‘a priest after the order of Melchizedek’ on his capturing Jerusalem David had subsumed that priesthood to an intercessory role looking to YHWH. But the opposition would not necessarily lie down. It is a reminder to us that we must stand firm for the truth about God, and mot let those who would debase Him from achieving their aims.

Psalms 25:3

G ‘Yes, none who wait for you will be put to shame.

They will be put to shame who deal treacherously without cause.’

Having first committed himself to YHWH he now asserts his full confidence in Him. His prayer was not in doubt but in faith. He wants YHWH to know that he has no doubt of the fact that no one who waits on YHWH will be disappointed. They will not have cause for being ashamed of trusting in Him. Rather it is those who deal treacherously, when there are no real grounds for them to do so, who will be put to shame. This idea of ‘waiting’ in expectancy is repeated in Psalms 25:21, ‘let integrity and uprightness preserve me for I wait on you’. So those who wait on Him must do so in total integrity and uprightness (in contrast with the treacherous) if they are to expect a response.

The treacherous are those who deal treacherously with His word. ‘I beheld the treacherous dealers and was grieved, because they observed not your word’ (Psalms 119:158). They put on an outward show of piety and religion, but they do not really observe God’s instruction. They seek their own ways, and plot against the truth. Compare also Jeremiah 3:20, ‘as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel’. Like faithless wives they have deserted YHWH. We are reminded here of Jesus’ condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees for the same reason (Mark 7:8; Mark 7:13). How careful we must be that we do not forsake the living God, by allowing a false image of Him to replace what He really is.

And what will be the result of his waiting on YHWH, his looking constantly to YHWH? ‘Those who wait on YHWH will renew their strength, they will mount on wings as eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and will not faint’ (Isaiah 40:31). He will find his inner strength daily renewed. Compare also Psalms 130:5, ‘I wait for YHWH and my soul waits, and in His word do I hope. My soul looks for the Lord more than watchmen look for the morning.’ The idea is of an expectant and confident waiting that looks with determined faith to the response that it will receive, and is closely connected with prayer.


Verses 1-7

A Prayer For Protection And Guidance From YHWH (Psalms 25:1-7).

In Psalms 25:1-2 the Psalmist lifts up His soul to God, and prays that his cause might be upheld, and then in Psalms 25:3 he asserts his confidence that God will indeed hear his prayer. This is followed in Psalms 25:4-5 by a request to be taught by YHWH because He is his saving God for whom he continually waits, and a plea in Psalms 25:6-7 that YHWH will remember His own tender mercies rather than the Psalmist’s sins. Thus it follows the pattern of: dependence on God (1-2), confidence in God (3), a desire to obey God (4-5), and a longing that God will deal with him in mercy rather than in accordance with his past sins (6-7).


Verses 4-7

A Plea For Guidance For Himself, and that YHWH Will Remember His Covenant Promises And Covenant Love, And That He Will Not Remember His Sins (4-7).

This is the first section in a three stage pattern, the first two stages of which can be illustrated as follows:

Show me Your ways, O YHWH.---------- Good and upright is YHWH.
Teach me Your paths. ---------------------- Therefore will He instruct sinners in the way.’
Guide me in Your truth, ------------------- The meek will He guide in justice,
And teach me. ------------------------------- And the meek will He teach his way

For you are the God of my salvation, ---- All the paths of YHWH are
For You do I wait all the day.
Remember, O YHWH, Your tender mercies, -- lovingkindness and truth
And Your lovingkindness,
for they have been ever of old -- To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.

Do not remember the sins of my youth, -- Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
Nor my transgressions (or ‘rebellions’).
According to Your lovingkindness remember you me,
For the sake of Your goodness, O YHWH.’---- For Your name’s sake, O YHWH.

We will now consider it in detail.

Psalms 25:4

D ‘Show me your ways, O YHWH.

Teach me your paths.’

The Psalmist knows that if his ‘waiting’ is to result in a successful outcome it must be connected with living in accordance with God’s ways, and walking in His paths, and so he asks that YHWH will show him His ways, and will teach him His paths. For this is his longing, to walk in the way of righteousness, the way of full obedience to YHWH. Compare Psalms 27:11, ‘teach me your way, O YHWH, and lead me in a plain path’; Psalms 143:8, ‘cause me to know the way in which I should walk’. It is the heart cry of all who truly know God.

‘Show me your ways’ was the prayer of Moses when he was in perplexity and was not clear about the way ahead (Exodus 33:13). And God’s final reply to him was to show him His glory. Once he had experienced His glory he knew that he could trust God in the way ahead, and he did not need to know any more. And for us that glory is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It is from knowing Jesus more fully in His glory (by meditation on His word and through prayer) that we will know His ways. If we neglect Him, we will soon neglect His ways.

Psalms 25:5

H ‘Guide me in your truth (or ‘trustworthiness’),

And teach me.

For you are the God of my salvation,

For you do I wait all the day.’

So he prays that YHWH will guide him in His truth and teach him. He wants to know the true way of God. This is important to him because while he knows that God is his saving God, his Saviour, and he is waiting on him for deliverance, he also knows that parallel with God saving him must be his own obedience to His truth. What God is working in him to will and to do of His good pleasure, he must work out with greatest care (Philippians 2:12-13). Total confidence in God must go along with full obedience to His truth. We cannot look to Christ as our Saviour if our desire is not to be guided into His truth.

But the word for ‘truth’ (’emeth) can also mean ‘trustworthiness’, and this translation provides a better parallel to the second line in the stanza.. So it may be that what the Palmist means is ‘let me become more aware of Your total trustworthiness’, thus indicating his desire to have an increasing confidence in God. This would tie in with the fact that he has already prayed in the previous verse that he might be taught His paths, so that he does not need to pray it again. On the other hand we should note Psalms 25:9-10 where again the emphasis is on knowing and following God’s ways. Both attitudes are of course necessary for the believer, that of trusting and having confidence in God, and that of obedience to His word. That is what this Psalm makes clear. Note Psalms 25:3, and Psalms 25:6 concerning having confidence in God, and Psalms 25:4 and Psalms 25:9-10 about walking in His ways.

Psalms 25:6

Z ‘Remember, O YHWH, your tender mercies,

And your lovingkindness, for they have been ever of old (or ‘from everlasting’).’

But in seeking God with his whole heart the Psalmist is reminded of how he has failed God in the past, and so now he calls on Him to remember that He is a God of tender mercies, a God Whose lovingkindness and ‘covenant love’ has been manifested from of old, even from everlasting. He is the unchanging God (Malachi 3:6) who has drawn him, and has loved him with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 2:2; Jeremiah 31:3). He does not want God to look on whether he is worthy or not, for he knows that he is not. He wants Him to be loving and merciful towards him, in terms of the covenant of love that He had made towards him and towards His people. The word translated ‘lovingkindness’ (chesed) basically means ‘covenant love’. He wants Him to remember that ‘the mercy of YHWH is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him’ (Psalms 103:17), because He Himself is from everlasting (Psalms 90:2; Psalms 93:2). Then he will be caught up in that everlasting mercy. He will know that ‘the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27). In the same way we also must come to our Heavenly Father, and to Jesus Christ our Lord, pointing not to ourselves but to His covenant of mercy towards us established through the cross (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:6-13). We come claiming no merit of our own, but openly admitting our sinfulness, as the Psalmist did, knowing that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

Psalms 25:7

CH ‘Do not remember the sins of my youth,

Nor my transgressions (or ‘rebellions’).

According to your lovingkindness remember you me,

For the sake of your goodness, O YHWH.’

So he prays that YHWH will not remember the sins of his youth, how he had failed God in the past, nor remember his recent transgressions, but will rather remember him in terms of His loving covenant towards His people, because He is truly good. He throws himself on the goodness and lovingkindness of God. He knows that if that is his hope and his confidence he has nothing to be afraid of. This is something that all of us must do. For this is the evidence of our genuine relationship with Him. Admitting and turning from our sin daily (compare Matthew 6:12), we must daily allow it to drive us to an awareness of the love and compassion of God, knowing that our sin has been wholly dealt with in the cross, and we are now walking in newness of life.

The word for ‘sins’ indicates a missing of the mark, a losing of the way. It expresses an awareness of coming short, an awareness that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), including ourselves. The word for ‘transgressions’ contains within it the element of rebellion. It is an indication of the rebellious spirit. For in the end that is what our sin is, rebellion against God and His ways, rebellion against His love.


Verses 8-11

God In His Goodness Guides All Who Are Responsive To Him, And Reveals To Them His Goodness In Mercy And Covenant Love, Including Pardoning Their Iniquity (Psalms 25:8-11).

Having called on God to guide him and show His covenant mercy towards him, the Psalmist now points out that this is in fact what YHWH, Who is good and upright, does for all sinners who are willing to be responsive to Him. He guides and leads them in His way, and reveals His covenant love (chesed) and faithfulness towards those who keep His covenant and His laws. The main emphasis here is on the activity of YHWH.

Psalms 25:8

T ‘Good and upright is YHWH.

Therefore will he instruct sinners in the way.’


Psalms 25:9

Y ‘The meek will he guide in justice,

And the meek will he teach his way.’

Because YHWH is good and upright that is why (‘therefore’) He does not just leave sinners to struggle on in ignorance, but instructs them in the right way, and when they are humble and responsive, guides them in what true righteousness involves, and indeed in His own way, the Way of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8).

‘Instructs’ is from the same root as the word ‘torah’, (God’s instruction). Thus He instructs them in His Law. ‘Meek.’ These are the humble minded who are ‘poor in spirit’ (compare Psalms 9:12, and see Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5; 1 Peter 5:5). ‘Justice.’ This is referring to the way of righteousness (see Proverbs 1:3, and compare Matthew 21:32).

Psalms 25:10

C ‘All the paths of YHWH are lovingkindness and truth.

To such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.’

And to those who are responsive to His covenant and to His instructions He reveals His own ‘covenant love’ (lovingkindness) and genuine faithfulness (compare Exodus 34:6). He never fails them but goes with them every step of the way, leading them in His own paths, paths which are paths of lovingkindness and truth.

His covenant, which contained His ‘testimonies’, His commandments (Deuteronomy 4:45; Deuteronomy 6:17; Deuteronomy 6:10), was made with His people at Sinai on the basis of earlier covenants (Exodus 20-23; compare Exodus 19:1-6; Genesis 17:2 ff). There Israel had committed themselves to the covenant, so the requirement here was that they fulfil their promise. And YHWH would respond with covenant love and true behaviour.

Psalms 25:11

L ‘For your name’s sake, O YHWH,

Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.’

The thought of God’s faithfulness to responsive sinners reminds him again of his own sins, and recognising how great his sins are, he again humbly calls on YHWH for pardon ‘for His Name’s sake’.

‘For His Name’s sake.’ In other words because He is the One Who has represented Himself in His Law as the Great Forgiver, He must therefore forgive in order to maintain His honour, and in order that the world might know that He fulfils His promises.

It is significant that he does not speak here of forgiveness being available to those who respond to YHWH, although he is no doubt very much aware that it is. He refers rather to his own need for forgiveness. This was clearly because he had such a deep sense of his own sinfulness that at this stage he was overwhelmed by it. It reveals someone with a true heart, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

‘Iniquity.’ Activity that is crooked or wrong resulting from a heart that is wrong.


Verses 12-15

The One Who Fears YHWH Will Receive His Instruction, Will Enjoy Security And Prosperity, Will Be Aware That He Is One Of His Covenant People, And Will Be Kept From Falling (Psalms 25:12-15).

We now come to the second and third stage in the parallels. In the case of the second stage the emphasis has been on YHWH’s activity towards His responsive people, in the case of the third stage it is on how His people who fear Him will benefit from it. But both have a similar pattern in mind:

Psalms 25:8-11

Psalms 25:12-15

Good and upright is YHWH.

What man is he who fears YHWH?

Therefore will He instruct sinners in the way
The meek will He guide in justice,
And the meek will He teach his way

him will He instruct in the way that he will choose.’

All the paths of YHWH are

his soul will dwell at ease

lovingkindness and truth

And his seed will inherit the land

To such as keep His covenant

The friendship of YHWH is with those who fear Him,

and His testimonies

And he will show them His covenant.

For Your name’s sake, O YHWH

My eyes are ever towards YHWH

Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

For He will pluck my feet out of the net’

In this third stage it His people’s benefit that is in mind. He who reverentially fears YHWH will receive His instruction, will dwell with ease of soul, his children will inherit what God had promised, he will experience His friendship, will have the truth of the covenant made known to him by Him, and because his eyes are on Him will have his feet plucked out of the net that ensnares sinners. This is one step further than God not remembering his sins (Psalms 25:7) and pardoning his iniquity (Psalms 25:11). It is practical deliverance from sin. ‘Sin will no longer have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace’ (Romans 6:14).

Psalms 25:12

M ‘What man is he who fears YHWH?

Him will he instruct in the way that he will choose.’

The Psalmist now points out what kind of a man God will have dealings with. It is a man who ‘is in awe of YHWH’ sufficiently to respond to His requirements. It is such a man who will be chosen by YHWH, so that YHWH will instruct him in His chosen way (Isaiah 30:21), or in his chosen way (Psalms 119:30; Psalms 119:173; Proverbs 1:29).

Psalms 25:13

N ‘His soul will dwell at ease,

And his seed will inherit the land.’

And the result will be that his inner life is at peace (his soul will dwell at ease) and his children will receive their God promised inheritance. Compare here Jesus’ promise, ‘blessed ones are those who are meek, for they will inherit the land’. ‘Inheriting the land’ basically means receiving the future that God has promised. The writer to the Hebrews points out that this means coming to a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10; compare Hebrews 12:22).

Psalms 25:14

S ‘The friendship (or ‘secret’) of YHWH is with those who fear him,

And he will show them his covenant.’

And those who fear Him will also enjoy the intimate friendship of YHWH, the kind of friendship which results in the sharing of secrets. The word for ‘friendship’ signifies the idea of a confidential and intimate relationship (compare its use in Psalms 55:14 - ‘sweet counsel’). And He will also show them (‘make them to know’) His covenant. They will have it ever brought to mind by Him (through His word) and will experience it in ever deeper measure because of their relationship with Him.

Psalms 25:15

GH ‘My eyes are ever towards YHWH

For he will pluck my feet out of the net’.

And finally because the Psalmists eyes are ever towards YHWH, the Psalmist knows that YHWH will preserve him from being caught in snares and traps. Note the sudden change to the first person which parallels Psalms 25:11. There he had called for forgiveness for his iniquity. Here he asserts his confidence that he will be delivered from all that could cause him to stumble because of YHWH’s intervention on his behalf


Verses 16-18

The Psalmist Now Prays For Deliverance From His Afflictions And Again For Forgiveness For His Sins (Psalms 25:16-18).

Following the confidence expressed in the previous verses the Psalmist’s situation now again comes strongly home to him, and he sends up a heartfelt plea for deliverance. Three problems are especially in mind in the final verses of the Psalm, firstly his need to be delivered from his afflictions, secondly his repeated need for forgiveness, and thirdly his need to be saved from his enemies, although all three may well be connected. The enemy and their activities may well have contributed to his afflictions, and have increased the level of his sins. Once again in the midst of it all he is especially conscious of his need for his sins to be forgiven, something which has come out all the way through.

Psalms 25:16

P ‘Turn you to me, and have mercy on me,

For I am desolate and afflicted.’


Psalms 25:17

TS ‘The troubles of my heart are enlarged.

Oh, do you bring me out of my distresses’.

It is a salutary lesson that up to this point, while he has mentioned his enemies, the Psalmist has not mentioned his afflictions. He has been more concerned about his sins. To him his afflictions were less important than his continuing in the grace of God. But now he finally feels that he can bring them to God’s attention. So he calls on God to note his afflictions, and asks that God will turn towards him in them, for they seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

We can compare here Psalms 119:132, ‘turn you to me and have mercy on me, as is the right of those who love your name (or as is right for those who love your name)’. Compare also Psalms 86:16.

‘Have mercy on me.’ That is, ‘show your compassion towards me.’ He is very conscious that he needs to be held up by the love of God.

‘For I am desolate and afflicted.’ He is both lonely and afflicted. Every hand seems against him. This was Elijah’s cry on the mount, ‘I only I am left and they seek my life’ (1 Kings 19:10). It is very easy at such times to feel alone. (But there are always seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal).

‘The troubles of my heart are enlarged.’ The troubles of his heart appear to be piling one on top of the other. They just seem to be getting larger and larger. How often this can appear so to the believer. At such times we must remember that God is larger still and can enlarge us so that our troubles appear as nothing (Psalms 119:32). It is amazing what a difference it can make if we remember that we are sons of the King, and that our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20).

‘Oh, do you bring me out of my distresses’. So his final plea is that God will deliver him out of his distresses, which include his consciousness of his sins (Psalms 25:18).

Psalms 25:18

R ‘Consider my affliction and my travail,

And forgive all my sins.’

‘And forgive all my sins.’ Once again his consciousness of his sins comes to the forefront, compare Psalms 25:7; Psalms 25:11. He is aware that his afflictions and travail have caused him to fall short of what he should be, and so he again seeks forgiveness. This need is thus at the very heart of the Psalm, along with his persistence in having communion with God.

Finally He Prays For Rescue From The Hands Of His Enemies, So That His Soul Might Be Kept In Integrity and Uprightness As He Waits On God (Psalms 25:19-21).

As we saw at the beginning the thoughts here parallel those with which he began the Psalm. But we should note here that his final concern is to be kept in integrity and uprightness. That is his prime goal. He does not want his light to go out (Matthew 5:16).

The comparisons are as follows:

‘Consider my enemies’ (Psalms 25:19)

‘Let not my enemies triumph over me (Psalms 25:2).

‘O keep my soul and deliver me’ (Psalms 25:20)

‘To you I lift up my soul’ (Psalms 25:1).

‘Let me not be ashamed’ (Psalms 25:20)

‘Let me not be put to shame’ (Psalms 25:2-3).

‘For I put my trust in you’ (Psalms 25:20)

‘In you have I trusted’ (Psalms 25:2)

‘For I will wait on you’ (Psalms 25:21)

‘None that wait on you will be ashamed’ (Psalms 25:3)

‘O God’ (Psalms 25:22)

‘O my God’ (Psalms 25:1/2).


Verse 19

R ‘Consider my enemies, for they are many,

And they hate me with cruel hatred.’

His thoughts now turn back to his enemies whom he has disregarded for most of the Psalm, for what has mattered first of all has been establishing his confidence in God and in His covenant, walking in God’s ways and enjoying God’s forgiveness of his sins. But if his enemies do triumph over him (Psalms 25:2) he knows that that will bring dishonour on YHWH for they are treacherous (Psalms 25:3), both towards him and towards God. And so he prays that God will behold his enemies who are many, and are not only many but are full of the kind of hatred that produces violence (‘the hatred of cruel violence’). Such experiences often occur to those who are faithful to God and His word.


Verse 20

SH ‘Oh keep my soul, and deliver me.

Do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you (put my trust in you).’

So he asks that his inner heart might be kept true, and that he might experience deliverance. For to be put to shame would reflect on the One in Whom he takes refuge, the One in Whom he trusts.


Verse 21

T ‘Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,

For I wait for you.’

His final concern is for the triumph of integrity and uprightness (in contrast with his enemies’ treachery - Psalms 25:3). He does not just want to be preserved, but preserved in integrity and uprightness. He wants them to act as his Preserver (compare goodness and mercy in Psalms 23:6; lovingkindness and truth in Psalms 40:11). And this is because he waits on God. He knows that there is no point in waiting on God without integrity and uprightness. He can wait in expectancy for God to act because what he is reveals that he is God’s man, and he will be preserved in integrity and uprightness because he is waiting on God as God’s man.

‘Integrity and uprightness.’ Compare Psalms 18:23, ‘I was also perfect with Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity’, and Psalms 15:2, where ‘he who walks uprightly and works righteousness’ will dwell in His holy hill. God answered his prayer, for this was in fact God’s testimony to Solomon concerning David, ‘as David your father walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness’ (1 Kings 9:4). Blessed indeed is the one of whom God can say that.


Verse 22

P ‘Redeem, O God, Israel, out all of his troubles.’

The Psalmists final plea is that God will redeem (deliver at a cost) Israel from all its troubles. He does not want to be thought of as just concerned about himself.

Many consider that this was added on when the Psalm was introduced into public worship. We should, however, note that the Psalmist has already had the true Israel in mind (Psalms 25:8-10; Psalms 25:12-14). Thus such a prayer is not inconsistent with the Psalm, and the use of ‘O God parallels the opening stanza. The prayer fits well with the concern of a king for his people, especially as he was the intercessory priest after the order of Melchizedek. Having prayed through about his own position he now prays for his people.

The use of ‘O God’ is rare in this section of the Psalms, but it parallels Psalms 25:1/2.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 25:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/psalms-25.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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