Life has a way of throwing curve balls. Thankfully, tucked in God’s word is a book to help us navigate the highs, lows, ins and outs and the joys and sorrows of life. The Psalms were written so God’s people could commune with Him in the midst of it all.
Most scholars say David wrote at least half of the Psalms. In the minds of most people, David may be most famous for slaying Goliath or perhaps for his politics, not his writing. Even the women of his day sang his praises because of his brute strength, not poetic abilities. Even so, his artistic writing shaped the heart of Israel for worship—the most important thing in all of life—and is still shaping hearts today.
Psalm 25 is a piece of David’s poetic work. Without understanding the Hebrew language, it’s nearly impossible to appreciate his thoughtful crafting. This particular Psalm is an acrostic poem. Although a lot could be said to describe the technicalities of acrostic poetry, the simplest explanation is that the writer uses the Hebrew alphabet as its structure. Each Hebrew consonant covers one verse. One of the purposes for this writing style is so that the reader can easily remember the poem or possibly memorize it. The uncomplicated way to describe it is to say David didn’t just spontaneously express his feelings, he put thought and effort into it making the writing profound in Hebrew culture.
The focus of this week’s lectionary reading from Psalm 25 is verses 1-10. Starting in verses one and two, right off the bat we see David is in trouble. What’s new? That was the story of his life, therefore it is difficult to pin down the exact situation he was facing. However, he was working through a problem. He was desperate, needy, and wanted vindication and he knew exactly where to turn. He calls on God—God alone! When David declared “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust,” he abandoned all other sources of potential help. It wasn’t God plus himself, or other idols, other people, or other gods, but to Yahweh alone he calls.
Not only does David turn to the one and only living God, he lifts up his soul. Essentially he is saying, “To You, God, I offer all that I am—my identity, who I am to the very core.” His prayer continues as he asks God not to let his enemies triumph over him, and then asks not to be disgraced. It’s not that he’s trying to spare himself of a red face. He doesn’t want to be in the place of realizing he trusted for nothing or believed in something that turned out to be false. By verse 3, David asks this same request for not just himself, but for anyone who waits—with anticipation on the Lord.
In verses 4-5, David displays a humble, teachable spirit. Admitting he doesn’t know everything, he wants to know more about God’s ways and His truth and he is willing to wait for it. Waiting isn’t passive, however! It is encompasses the idea of being wound or tied to the expectation of what he was waiting for. He demonstrates faith in God to save Him.
David now pleas for God to have selective memory in verses 6-8. He doesn’t want God to remember his transgressions or sins of his youth. I get it! He does want God to remember His lovingkindness and compassion instead. Perhaps his past haunted him. This side of the Cross, we have a better understanding of grace and the sea of God’s forgetfulness than David did at this time. Even so, he understood that the confession of his sins and relying on God’s goodness, love and mercy would position himself for intervention and deliverance.
It seems in verses 8-10 David shifts from praying to pondering. He ponders on the goodness of the Lord. Perhaps he’s lost in thought remembering how gentle and good of a teacher the Lord really is. He is a good teacher isn’t he? God doesn’t force us to the right path. To those who realize their need for help, He guides and leads. God can do so much with a teachable spirit!
We also see in these verses that David has realized God’s ways truly are best. They are for our good, in our best interest. God’s laws and commands are for our benefit and save us from a world of self-inflicted pain and misery. God is good and we should never underestimate the wonder of His goodness in comparison to His other attributes. Doubting His goodness is perhaps the reason people don’t place their faith in Him. God doesn’t hold out or hold back, goodness is His nature. God’s way of living is good and true! His paths—moral routines— are steadfast love and faithfulness!
I am thankful for David’s published work! Yes, He accomplished many great things as King of Israel, but the words he expressed during the circumstances of real life inspire us to keep looking to God and God alone as our source of help and strength no matter what the circumstances may be. No one who places their hope in God will ever be disgraced. He is good and faithful.