This Psalm is full of devout affection to God, holy desires for His favour and faith in His promises. It teaches us what it is to pray and what we must pray for. It is easy to apply this Psalm to ourselves for we are often in troubles and struggles with sins, and so we have plenty of need to complain of at the throne of grace.
Psalm 25 Part 1 – A Psalm of David
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
Henry says – Here is David’s professions of desire towards God and dependence on Him. He often begins his psalms with such professions, not to move God, but to engage himself to respond to those professions. Unto You, O Lord! do I lift up my soul, Ps. 25:1. In the previous Psalm it described the character of a good man who has not lifted up his soul to vanity. A call was given to the everlasting gates to lift up their heads for the King of glory to come in, Ps. 25:1.
Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God
To this call, David here answers, “Lord, I lift up my soul, not to vanity, but to You.” In worshiping God we must lift up our souls to Him. Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God, God must be eyed and the soul employed. We must set God before us with a holy contempt of the world and the things of it, with a fixed thought and active faith. We need to let out our desires towards Him as the fountain of our happiness.
David professes his dependence on God and begs for the benefit and comfort of that dependence (Ps. 25:2): O my God! I trust in You. He had no confidence in himself nor in any other. Having put his trust in God, he is at ease, well satisfied and quiet from the fear of evil. He pleads with God whose honour it is to help those who honour Him by trusting in Him. What men put confidence in is either their joy or their shame, according to what it proves.
Let me not be ashamed
David prays earnestly that shame might not be his lot: “Let me not be ashamed of my confidence in You; let me not be shaken from it by any prevailing fears, and let me not be disappointed of what I depend upon You for. Lord, keep what I have committed to You.” If we make our confidence in God as our stay, it shall not be to our shame. If we triumph in Him, our enemies will not triumph over us.
If we trust in God we will not sink under our fears, or come short in our hopes. All the saints have obtained a precious faith like David’s and can be as successful in the issue. True saints will make supplication for all saints. None who, in faith and hope wait on God shall be ashamed. Let those who transgress without cause, or vainly be ashamed. They revolt from God and their duty, from David and his government without reason. The weaker the temptation is by which men are drawn to sin, the stronger the corruption will be. Those are the worst transgressors who sin for sinnings-sake. They know their attempts against God are fruitless and therefore they will soon be ashamed of it.
We must learn Christ
David prays for God to teach him. He was a knowing man himself, but the most intelligent, the most observant, both need and desire to be taught by God. From Him we must be ever learning. “Teach me, not fine words or fine notions, but Your ways, Your paths, Your truth, the ways in which You walk towards men, which are in all mercy and truth (Ps. 25:10). Show me the ways in which You would have me to walk towards You.” The best pupils are those who understand and know the good things they should do, Eccl. 2:3. 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.
David desired that his understanding would be enlightened: “Show me Your way, and teach me.” When we are in doubt we should pray earnestly that God would make it plain to us what He would have us do. That He would incline his will to do it, and strengthen him in it: “Lead me, and so teach me.” Not only as one who is short-sighted, to keep us from missing our way, but to move forward in the way and to be kept from fainting and falling. We go no further in the way to heaven than God is pleased to lead us and to hold us up.
On You do I wait
He has a great expectation from God: You are the God of my salvation. Those who choose salvation as their end will make Him the God of their salvation. We may come boldly to Him for direction in the way that leads to that end. If God saved us, He will teach us and lead us. He who gives salvation will give instruction. On You do I wait all the day. From where should a servant expect direction in what to do, but from his own master, on whom he waits daily? If we sincerely desire to know our duty, with a resolution to do it, we need not question that God will direct us in it.
David appeals to God’s infinite mercy, and casts himself upon it. He does not pretend to have any merit of his own (Ps. 25:6): “Remember, O Lord! Your tender mercies, and lead and teach me; for they have been ever of old.” “You have always been a merciful God. It is Your name and nature to show mercy.” “Your counsels and plans for mercy are from everlasting.” “The instances of Your mercy to Your people, and to me in particular, are constant; they began of old and have never ceased. You have taught me from my youth up, so Lord teach me now.”
He remembers it no more
He is in earnest for the pardon of his sins (Ps. 25:7): “Do not remember the sins of my youth. Lord, remember Your mercies (Ps. 25:6), which speak for me, and not my sins, which speak against me.” Here he specifies particularly the sins of his youth. Our youthful faults and follies should be a matter of our repentance and humiliation long after, because time does not wear out the guilt of unconfessed sin. Do not remember my sins against me, do not enter into judgment with me for them.”
When God pardons sin He is said to remember it no more, which denotes a complete remission. He forgives and forgets that he might be accepted in God’s sight: “Remember me; think on me for good, and come to my help.” There is nothing more that we need to desire to make us happy than for God to remember us with favour. His plea is, “according to Your mercy, and for Your goodness-sake.” It is God’s goodness and not ours, His mercy and not our own merit, that must be our plea for the pardon of sin. We must always rely on this plea, as those who are aware of our unworthiness and as those who are satisfied in the riches of God’s mercy and grace.
We are to believe the prayer is heard
In the middle of the Psalm, David meditates upon the promises, and is satisfied. The promises of God are not only the best foundation of prayer, but they are a present answer to prayer. Let the prayer be made according to the promise, and then the promise may be read as a return to the prayer. We are to believe the prayer is heard because the promise will be performed.
In the middle of this Psalm, in midst of the promises, David enforces his petition with a double plea. “Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. The greater the sin, the more divine mercy will be magnified in the forgiveness of it.” It is the glory of a great God to forgive great sins, to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin, 34:7. “It is great, and therefore I an undone, forever undone, if infinite mercy does not intervene.” The more we see of the heinous our sins, the better qualified we are to find mercy with God.
He will teach us
We are all sinners. Can we hope for any change? Yes (Ps. 25:8), He will teach sinners, for Christ came into the world to save sinners and to call them to repentance. These promises are sure, to those who though they may have gone astray, yet now keep God’s Word. Those who accept His teachings for their rule and receive His promises for their portion live up to it. Though they sometimes break the command, yet by sincere repentance and a constant adherence by faith to God as their God, they keep the covenant and do not break it.
God has a perfect nature and so He is able to ratify and confirm all the promises. We value a promise by the character of the one who makes it. We may therefore depend upon God’s promises; for good and upright is the Lord, and therefore He will be as good as His Word. He is so kind that He cannot deceive us and so true that He cannot break His promise. Faithful is He who has promised, He will also do it. He was good in making the promise, and therefore will be upright in performing it.
All God does comes from love
God is agreeable in all He says and does: All the paths of the Lord (that is, all His promises and all His dealings) are mercy and truth. They are, like Himself, good and upright. All God does comes from love, covenant-love. They may see in His love His mercy displayed and His Word fulfilled. What rich satisfaction is this to good people, that, whatever afflictions they are experiencing, All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, and so it will appear when they come to their journey’s end.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Swipe left to right]
As a friend of sinners
Came the Lord Jesus,
Our coming to Him was made possible
By His first coming to us.
From His throne on high
He came into view.
The Saviour is now at hand
To do what the helpless sinner cannot do.
Only by His coming down from heaven
And drinking of the fullness of the cup
Could our need be met
“He came down so we could be lifted up”.
By the late Andrew Feakin
[passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. I worship You and lift up my soul to You. Let my eye be on You and my soul engaged fully with You. I set You before me with a holy contempt of the world and the things of it. You are the fountain of my happiness. I have no confidence in myself nor in any other. I put my trust fully in You. Therefore I am at ease, well satisfied and quiet from the fear of evil. It is Your honour to help those who honour You by trusting in You.
I know when I trust in You I do not sink under my fears, and my hope does not fail. I shall not be not ashamed. Teach me Your ways, Your paths and Your truth, the ways in which You walk towards men, which are in all mercy and truth. Show me the ways in which You would have me to walk towards You.
Enlighten my understanding
Enlighten my understanding. When I am in doubt cause me to pray more earnestly that You would make plain to me what You would have me do. That I move forward in the way and be kept from fainting and falling. Show me any unresolved issues, those I have need to repent of. Do not remember my sins against me, do not enter into judgment with me for them.
Thank You that when we confess our sins, You are faithful to forgive them. And when You forgive them You are said to remember them no more. You forgive and forget that I might be accepted in Your sight. There is nothing more that I need to make me happy than for You to remember me with favour. Help me not to be tormented by past sins that have been forgiven. But to learn from them and then push forward into all You have for me. I am aware of my unworthiness and I am satisfied in the riches of Your mercy and grace. I believe You hear my prayers and Your promises will be performed.
Thank You that all You do comes from covenant-love. I see in Your love Your mercy displayed and Your Word fulfilled. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.