For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the 25th of September, here’s Psalm 25:
1 In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
22 Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!
What is this Psalm about?
Traditionally, some see this as a lament Psalm – which it is, in some ways. I wonder whether this Psalm is in fact a potted vignette of what it means to trust God with our lives, and submit to his leading. Verses 1-7 wonderfully balance the choice to throw one’s-self upon God’s grace, and the way that God is involved in our lives with him. Verses 8-11 root that involvement deeply in the character of God – this is a fundamental part of the way reality works. Verses 12-15 seem like a pledge to God, just as God covenants with us. The final verses combine lament (thus confirming the traditional classification of Psalm 25 as a lament Psalm, in my view) and prayer – balancing the reality of the world of struggle (enemies, sins, hate, shame, etc.) and the reality of God (freedom, relief, integrity, hope, and deliverance, etc.)
What does this Psalm teach about God?
The personal opening to this Psalm reminds us that God is a personal God – whilst remaining King of everything (See Psalm 24 for more on this tension) he is also a God concerned with and for individuals. We are told more about God’s character than his attributes here – emphasising that God is a personal God in the sense of being a being, rather than a force – for example verse 8’s insistence that ‘Good and upright is the Lord’. Verse 14 also reveals something – that God ‘confides’ in those who fear him, echoing the grandeur of covenant with the intimacy of friendship. Psalm 25, following on from Psalm 24, shows us the majesty and immediacy of God.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
We live in an age where it is all to easy for churches, movements and individual Christians to drift, to soften, to go lukewarm. It’s easy to soften the edges of Christian teaching, ignore difficult passages, and pray quietly that good things will happen. Psalm 25 reminds us of the necessity of trust in God (v1), of his forgiveness of our sins (v7), his awareness of (and ability to relieve) our pain and suffering (v15-20), among other things. These are all good things – and the clarity is refreshing.
A prayer from Psalm 25:
Lord, only you can release my feet from the snare. Only you can save me, and guide me, and restore me. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Amen.