- Again we come to another psalm that was penned by David. However, this psalm has a unique characteristic. Although we cannot know this by simply looking at the psalm in the English language, this psalm in the Hebrew is an acrostic poem. This means that the first word of the first verse begins with the successive first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet and notice there are twenty-two verses in this psalm, each beginning with the next letter of the alphabet.
- The theme of this psalm is repeatedly stated as David’s desire not to be put to shame. Consider the places this theme occurs: Verse 2 “let me not be ashamed“; verse 3 “let no one who waits on You be ashamed“; verse 20 “let me not be ashamed.” This is the thread woven through the psalm. We will talk about what this means in a moment. Let us begin now by reading through the psalm.
I. Confidence in God (25:1-3)
A. I trust in you
- The first movement of this psalm describes the confidence that David has in the Lord. David begins, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You.” David in essence is saying that he is completely handing his life over to God. David is lifting up his life to God because he has that much confidence and trust in God.
- I suggest to you this is the trust that God is looking for His followers to exhibit. Being a disciple of Jesus is about completely giving your life into the hands of God. This is the concept Jesus was teaching about forsaking all to follow after Him. We see this was a mental decision that David made between God and himself. David made the choice that he was going to leave things in God’s hand and entrust his life to God.
B. I will not be ashamed
- David gives the reason why he is putting his life into God’s hands. David is not exhibiting blind faith, as we call it, but has a logical reason why he will entrust himself to God. David says, “Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed.” This is a rather emphatic statement, such that the ESV reads, “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” This is the tone of the statement for David is exuding his confidence in God. David is turning his life over to God because all who do will not be put to shame or be ashamed.
- Now, unfortunately this language is rather confusing when we read it. When the scriptures use the words “shame” and “ashamed,” God is not referring to embarrassment. That is how we use these words today. David is not saying that he will not be embarrassed or feel foolish and that those who trust in God will never feel embarrassed or foolish either.
- There is such a tone found in the scriptures, like when Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory” (Luke 9:26). The idea does communicate that if we are embarrassed about God, He will make us foolish before Him. But there is a greater tone behind these words, particularly in this psalm. The greater idea is that David will not be let down or disappointed. The reason he can turn his life over to the hands of God is because he knows he will not be disappointed or let down when he does so. Thus, David says emphatically that no one who trusts is the Lord will be disappointed.
- Reread verses 2-3 of this psalm and see how this makes much more sense of what David is saying. David puts his trust in God and he will not be disappointed. Truly, all who wait on the Lord will not be disappointed. Now, look at the end of verse 3: those who act treacherously will be disappointed.
- I believe this is more than just a statement that David wants his enemies to be disappointed. This is poetry that we are reading and contrasts are repeatedly drawn implicitly. That is, David will express a contrasting statement even though the two statements seem to be unrelated. This is the nature of Hebrew poetry and why we see statements formed into couplets. Either the second statement is a restatement of the first statement, enhancement of the first statement, or a contrast to the first statement. This can be seen in Psalm 24:1 and 24:3. In Psalm 25:3 we also have a couplet.
- David is comparing those who put their trust in God with those who do not put their trust in God. Those who will wait on the Lord through faith will not be disappointed or let down. Those who will not trust in the Lord are considered to be people who act treacherously. To act treacherously is to commit a great act of injustice toward another. In this passage, we are committing a great act of injustice toward God without cause. God has done nothing such that we should question our ability to trust in Him. God is faithful and has given us no cause to doubt His faithfulness. We treat God treacherously when we are unwilling to put our trust in God.
II. Call to God (25:4-7)
A. Make known your ways
- David makes three appeals to God. The first appeal is made in verse 4, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” David says he is ready to learn from God. David says “show me,” “teach me,” and “lead me.” This is the attitude we must adopt toward God. Do we really want to be taught by God? Do we want to know the way of the Lord? Do we want God to lead us through this life?
- More often than not, we only want God to lead us if He is leading where we want to go. We only want to see the way we want to go, be taught what we want to learn, and be lead in the direction that we think is best. But this is not trusting in God and is not giving our lives to God. David says that he will wait for the Lord all day long to know God’s will. All day long David has his eyes pointed toward God to know God’s will. Show me your ways, lead me in your truth, and teach me, Lord must be our cry.
- This is also the second time that David has spoken of waiting for the Lord. David repeats this idea again in verse 21. There is an element of patience required in trusting God. We usually want to react immediately and God tells us to wait for His help and guidance. We want immediate answers to prayer and God looks for us to wait.
B. Remember mercy and love
- David’s second appeal to God is that He remember mercy and love. What a great thought! After asking for God’s guidance and teaching, David now requests God’s patience. Show me mercy and steadfast love because I am not always going to choose to do what is right.
- We always have a need to call out for the mercy and love of the Lord. How often we know what we ought to do, yet choose to do something else! How often we can see the direction we must take yet choose to go another way. These two points are wisely coupled together. Show me and teach me your ways, Lord, then be merciful to me as I try to do your will.
C. Remember not my sins
- Thus, David’s third appeal is to forget his previous sins. Everyone can look back into their past and see the need for God to forgive those past transgressions. This appeal for forgiveness is not based upon his own actions, but upon the mercy and goodness of God. God is so good that He will forgive our many sins which we have committed against Him.
- This is the great blessing found under the new covenant of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah prophesied of a day when a new covenant would be established. That covenant made the provision for our sins saying, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The writer of Hebrews quotes this prophecy and says that this new covenant was established by Jesus’ death on the cross (Hebrews 8:6-13). God has promised to forget our past sins and not bring them to mind again. We have hope and confidence in this when we are trusting in the Lord.
III. The Character of God (25:8-10)
A. Good and upright/steadfast and faithful
- David now lists a couple attributes of God’s character. This seems to be a section of adoration to God for who He is in light of knowing that God has not remembered our past sins but instead remembers mercy and steadfast love.
- Verse 8 says the Lord is good and upright. Verse 10 says the Lord is steadfast and faithful in all His ways. On what basis does David claim that God is good and upright, steadfast and faithful? Notice verse 8 for David’s reason is that the Lord teaches sinners in the way. Do you see what David is praising God for? Do you think David is saying that it is good that God will teach those wretched sinners out in the world? I believe David is speaking of himself as the sinner. How good and upright is God who will teach us repeat offenders of God’s law His paths! How steadfast and faithful is God to continue to work with us and teach us though we are repeat violators of His ways! God is faithful to His word and covenant though we are not deserving of His faithfulness.
B. God’s conditions
- But David also makes a subtle point in this section. Notice who David says the Lord will guide. Notice who David says that God will show mercy, faithfulness, and steadfast love toward: (1) the humble (vs. 9) and (2) those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
- After pointing out our weaknesses at keeping His law, David does not say it is okay for us to remain repeat violators. We have to change. We have to change our hearts and change our actions.
- First, David says that God teaches the humble. Let me ask a question: are you humble? Now we know that if we answer yes, then we have probably lost the humility we thought we had. So let me ask it another way: do you practice humility? This truly addresses what God is looking for within us. Humility is not simply about what you think of yourself but it is showing what you think of yourself by submitting to another.
- How did Jesus show humility? By His actions. Philippians 2:7 makes this very point for us. Paul says we need to have the same mind and attitude that Christ had (Philippians 2:5). Verse 7 says that Jesus “humbled Himself.” How did He do that? The rest of the verse says, “and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” Humility is not thought, but shown. Jesus showed humility through dying on the cross, submitting Himself to the will of the Father. We become humble by the actions we take. When we practice submission to one another and dependence on God, we are practicing the humility of Christ.
- Second, David says that God shows His faithfulness and steadfast love “to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” God is not only calling for a change of attitude into submission but also a change of our choices to obey the covenant of God. We cannot expect to remain transgressors and violators and still partake of God’s mercy and faithfulness. We find grace when we striving to keep His covenant. But grace is lost when we forsake the commands of God and turn to our own ways.
IV. Confidence in God and Call to God
A. Rewards to those who fear God (25:11-15)
- Instructed by God. David, in this fourth section of the psalm, will now express the rewards of putting our trust in God. The first point is that we will be instructed by God. We have no better teacher than the Lord Himself. Perhaps one of the more amazing times we see God’s instruction is to Job and God speaks to Him from the whirlwind. In the midst of the storm, God spoke to Job to teach Him what is right. So it is today, while we are in the storms of life that God is refining us and teaching us to be more like Him.
- Abide in well being (goodness). David also says that those who fear and trust in the Lord will abide in goodness or well-being. God will treat us well and take care of us. I firmly believe the scriptures strongly teach this point. Jesus taught in the sermon of the mount that those who follow God should be anxious for nothing because when we are seeking first the kingdom of God, all the rest of the things of this world will be given to us. God will take care of us when we are seeking Him first.
- Inherit blessings. David also says that “his offspring shall inherit the land.” This idea is lost upon us today so we must understand what that meant back in those days. To receive the land inheritance was a matter of survival. To not receive an inheritance of land was to be like the prodigal son of Luke 15 who would have absolutely nothing. By contrast, the inheritance was divided out among the children, with the firstborn receiving the double portion. This was a great blessing to pass on this land and inheritance to your descendants for they would certainly be provided for. This is the idea behind what we are reading. God is making provisions for His people and therefore ties closely to the idea of abiding in goodness described in the same verse.
- Friendship of the Lord. I believe this is a striking statement made by David. James 2 tells us that Abraham was called a friend of God. This is not a common identification placed upon God’s followers. Not any person was termed a friend of God for describes the close relationship that existed between God and Abraham. Yet, we can also be friends of God when we have the great faith that Abraham showed throughout his life.
- God’s will is revealed. We can know what we ought to do. When we are putting our trust in the Lord, we will know what God’s will for us is. In those days, God would send prophets to tell the people what would need to be done to be pleasing to the Lord. Hebrews 1:1 tells us that God has now sent His Son to guide us and reveal God’s will to us. This revelation was given to the apostles who wrote that will done for us. When we read, we can know what God wants us to do.
- Rescued by God. The final image is found in verse 15 which describes us being snatched out of the trap. There is nothing we cannot overcome by the power of God when the Lord is our shepherd. Though we must be led through the valleys of life and enduring the evils of this world, God can rescue us. God rescues us from sin, from our enemies, from temptations, from trials, and from evil. With God on our side, we experience deliverance.
- It is important to see that David did not speak of these things in a future tense. David was not describing the reward of the faithful to be received after death. These are immediate rewards given to those who fear the Lord. God has not left us alone to meander through this life but provides aid for us and blessings to us as we seek the paths of God.
B. Call to God (25:16-22)
- God, turn to me and be gracious. David now begins his final pleas before he concludes his prayer. Up to this point, we would not have known that David is in the midst of a time of suffering. But now we begin to see that David is in tribulation. David says he is lonely and afflicted. The troubles of his heart are enlarged, dealing with trouble and affliction. Verse 19 describes the numerous foes that David has and the violent hatred they are showing toward David. In the midst of this despair, David cries out for God to draw near to Him. We have the right to plea to God when we feel alone and distant. Though we know God is near, we can ask Him to help us know and feel that He is there.
- Bring me out of distress. We have the ability and right to ask God to prevail over our struggles. We all must go through trials and suffering. But we have a God who can carry us through the turmoil and make us stronger for what we endured.
- Forgive all my sins. How many times David has already asked for this, yet again David seeks forgiveness! David requested this forgiveness in verse 7 and in verse 11. God does not tire of us coming to Him in need of spiritual assistance. We cannot wear God out. God always receives the true repentant heart of those who long for Him in confession of sins.
- Consider my foes. David is calling for justice. He is asking the Lord to see what has happened and the number of enemies which are against him. We can talk to God about our enemies. We can ask for relief from those who want to bring us down and destroy us.
- Guard me and deliver me. David now gets to what he needs right now: deliverance. David lived a turbulent life even though he was a man after God’s own heart. Righteous actions will bring enemies. David had many enemies for his zeal to follow the Lord. David asks God for help. Also notice that David is still putting his trust in God despite the situation he is in and trusts that God will not disappoint him.
- Preserve me in integrity. It is easy to give up and no longer be a servant in the midst of trial. It is easy for us to grow lax in our service to God. We may choose to not live up the character of God when times get tough and become self-focused. David requests help to remain righteous and upright toward God. He does not want to cave into evil. How strong are Satan’s traps when we are in the midst of trial! We need to be surrounded in righteousness to avoid his snares.
- Redeem Israel. Finally, David leaves his prayer by thinking of the nation spiritually. It is not a call to keep the nation from troubles, but to bring the One who will purchase them from their troubles: the Messiah. How strongly David longed for the Messiah to come to bring redemption and deliverance to the nation! David was never content to simply thinking of himself, but always thought as a king on behalf of his people.
- Trust in God, He will not disappoint.
- God’s goodness, uprightness, faithfulness, and steadfast love are shown to those who are humble and keep the covenant.
- See the blessings we receive now for putting our trust in God today.