A Psalm Of Guidance (Psalm 25) - Part One
This is the first of seven Acrostic Psalms (see also Psalms 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145), where each verse (or each section of eight verses in the case of Psalm 119) begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Psalms 25:1 A Psalm of David. Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, refers to various people lifting up their hands, their eyes, their voices, but here we have the Psalmist lifting up his soul to the Lord. Instead of choosing to focus on the vain things of this world (see Psalm 24:4), David resolved to focus only on the Lord. Truly, that is the secret of finding out God's will for your life - having a heart and soul focused steadfastly on the Lord.
"With poetic passion, David cried out to God how that he laid his very soul before the Lord. Truly, this is fervent prayer. His heart was bared. His soul was offered up in prayer to God. God pays heed to such prayer." (David Sorenson, Understanding The Bible, JOB Through Psalms, page 265.)
"...In worshipping God we must lift up our souls to him. Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God... With a holy contempt of the world and the things of it, by a fixed thought and active faith, we must set God before us, and let out our desires towards him as the fountain of our happiness." (Matthew Henry.)
Psalms 86:4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Psalms 143:8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Lamentations 3:41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
Let us lift up our hearts and voices to the Lord in praise, our hands in service and in holy prayer, and our souls in worship - looking unto Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Psalms 25:2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
This is the first of three verses in this Psalm that speak about being ashamed or not ashamed. Notice that it is our trust in the Lord God that will ensure that we are not ashamed. The Apostle Paul had that same idea when he penned these words:
2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
God's enemies will be ashamed, but those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and commit themselves unto Him will have nothing to be ashamed about on the day of judgment when the Lord returns for His own.
Psalms 25:3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
To trangress, according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, means: "1. To pass over or beyond any limit; to surpass. 2. In a moral sense, to overpass any rule prescribed as the limit of duty; to break or violate a law, civil or moral. To transgress a divine law is sin."
Those who rebel against the Lord will have cause to be ashamed, but those that wait on Him in faith will be blessed and rewarded. When studying the Bible, it is always good to pay attention to any repetition of words, phrases, or ideas. There are three references to waiting upon the Lord in this Psalm. When God repeats Himself in His Word, we need to listen and hearken. In the context of God's guidance, this verse may very well be indicating that God will bless those who wait upon His leading, but woe to those who rush ahead of the Lord and run headlong into sin. (See Isaiah 50:10-11) Wait upon the Lord!
Psalms 25:4-5 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
"When the believer has begun with trembling feet to walk in the way of the Lord, he asks to be still led onward like a little child upheld by its parent's helping hand, and he craves to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth... Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us." (Spurgeon, Morning And Evening.)
"What he desired to learn: 'Teach me, not fine words or fine notions, but thy ways, thy paths, thy truth...' God's paths and his truth are the same; divine laws are all founded upon divine truths. The way of God's precepts is the way of truth, Ps. 119:30. Christ is both the way and the truth, and therefore we must learn Christ... What he pleads, (1.) His great expectation from God: Thou art the God of my salvation. Note, Those that choose salvation of God as their end, and make him the God of their salvation, may come boldly to him for direction in the way that leads to that end. If God save us, he will teach us and lead us. He that gives salvation will give instruction. (2.) His constant attendance on God: On thee do I wait all the day. Whence should a servant expect direction what to do but from his own master, on whom he waits all the day? 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." (Matthew Henry.)
It is God's ways, God's paths, and God's truth that David longs to know. Is this what you long for? There are seven direct references in this Psalm to God's guidance: teach (5 times), lead, guide. According to Psalm 23:4, if the Lord is your Shepherd, it is up to Him to lead you in the paths of righteousness, and up to you to submit to that leading and follow the Good Shepherd. We don't need to run ourselves ragged trying to "figure out" what the Lord would have us to do; we just need to OBey what He has already revealed to us, and He will show us the next step we are to take when it is truly needed - in His time.
"Do what you know, and God will teach you what to do. Do what you know to be your present duty, and God will acquaint you with your future duty as it comes to be present." (Samuel Annesley, Treasury Of David.)
Psalms 25:6-7 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.
Three times in these verses we see the word remember (once it is remember not). To remember something in a Biblical sense means to act on it. For example, when the Bible states that God remembered Noah, it means that God acted on Noah's behalf, that God did something for Noah or about his situation. (See the linked study for more on this theme.) Here the Psalmist is pleading with the Lord to actively show mercy, lovingkindness, and goodness to him.
On a side note: Psalm 13:1 (and similar passages such as Psalm 42:9; 77:9; Isaiah 49:14; Hosea 4:6) had puzzled me until recently when I recalled the Biblical usage of remember, in contrast with God forgetting something (ie. not actively working on behalf of that person or situation - or even actively working against someone; see Jeremiah 23:39 and Lamentations 2:1). How could true, faithful believers think that the Lord God had completely forgotten about them? Surely their faith could not be that small or falter that much when they are striving to focus on the Lord!
Psalm 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
The Lord God cannot forget about His people (in the sense we use the term today); however, sometimes we can get discouraged when it seems He is not actively working on our behalf in a given situation. In Psalm 13, David was lamenting that he could not see the Lord at work, and in Psalm 25, he is crying out to this effect: Lord, let me see Your lovingkindness and mercy at work in my life, let me see You at work in this situation that has me distraught.
B.) For Thy Sake.
...according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake...
It is a blessing to note that in the Psalms, there are five different aspects of God's character and nature that the various Psalmists plead as reasons for God to help them: because of His mercies' sake, His goodness' sake, His truth's sake, His righteousness' sake, and His name's sake (five is typical of God's grace). God is merciful, good, righteous, and truthful. He is the only source of truth - He is Truth. He is also the only source of righteousness for man.
There are seven times the book of Psalms refers to the Lord doing something for His name's sake (seven is typical of the Lord's perfection/completion). His name - Jesus, which means "the Lord is salvation/Saviour" - represents who He is and why He came. When He does something for His name's sake, it is a reflection of His character as Saviour.
It is wonderful to see the grace offered to God's children, and how He will perfect the work He has begun on the behalf of those who trust in Him.
Psalms 6:4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
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.
Psalms 25:11 For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
Psalms 31:3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.
Psalms 31:16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.
Psalms 44:26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
Psalms 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
Psalms 106:8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.
Psalms 109:21 But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
Psalms 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.
Psalms 143:11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
The references in the Psalms to His name's sake (and their surrounding context) all have to do with deliverance from trouble (including deliverance from enemies) and forgiveness of (deliverance from) sins. Jesus' name means "Saviour," and deliverance (both physical and spiritual) is what being a Saviour is all about!
C. Remember Not.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions...
Here is the first of three references to forgiveness of his sins in Psalm 25. Strong's Concordance gives this definition of sins: "from 2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness)." He also gives this for 2398: "properly, to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin." In other words, to "miss the mark" of God's will for our lives in that area. The New Testament equivalent would be the Greek word, hamartia, from a root meaning: "properly, to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i.e. (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin." Picture a game of darts, where each contestant is striving to throw their darts at the dartboard. The target is the bullseye. It does not matter how much each person misses the target, if they miss it by a millimeter or by a mile, they have still missed the mark and will not share in the prize. All of mankind has missed the mark of God's perfect will for their lives because of their sin and rebellion against Him, and has forfeited the prize of eternal life. But, praise the Lord, the story does not end there! What mankind could not do (ie. perfectly fulfill the will of God, perfectly OBey the Law of God), the Lord Jesus Christ did. He lived a perfect, sinless life, and by His death, burial and resurrection - by His completed work of redemption, by His payment for our sin on Calvary - salvation is freely offered to all!
Transgression means "The act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty; the violation of a law or known principle of rectitude; breach of command." Basically, going beyond the bounds commanded by God and sinning; ie. the Lord commands us not to do something or go somewhere, and we do it or go there anyway.
As stated already, to remember something Biblically means to act on it. To remember not something would be the exact opposite. In this context, to not remember our sins means that the Lord is not holding them against us; He is not acting against us because of our sins. When we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone to save us, when we place our faith in Jesus and His finished work of redemption, then God forgets our sins (not in the sense that He no longer has knowledge of them, but in the sense that He is no longer actively holding those sins against us). This is an example we can follow - we may not be able to stop a past sin from coming to mind, but we can choose not to hold those sins against someone.
Psalms 79:8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
Isaiah 64:9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.
Here are two passages that illustrate what it means to remember our sins:
1 Kings 17:17-18 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
Jeremiah 14:10-12 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an OBlation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for His New Covenant provided by His shed blood and death upon the cross for our sins!! The following two passages show us God's promise to remember [our] sins no more:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Hebrews 10:14-18 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
"'Remember not the sins of my youth; that is, remember them not against me, lay them not to my charge, enter not into judgment with me for them.' When God pardons sin he is said to remember it no more, which denotes a plenary remission; he forgives and forgets." (Matthew Henry.)
We know the Lord will never forget His children - but we can praise Him forever for forgetting our sins!
Basic outline preached February 27th/2010
Study written March 4th/2010
Source: A Psalm Of Guidance (Psalm 25) - Part One
A Psalm Of Guidance (Psalm 25) - Part One