A psalm of faith and trust, Psalm 25 was written by David who was constantly looking to God for wisdom and guidance and we, too, can read this psalm to understand and petition God to teach us His ways.
The psalm is divided into three major sections:
1) A plea for Guidance : verses 1 through 7;
2) The goodness of the Lord : verses 8 through 15;
3) A prayer for deliverance : verses 16 through 22.
1 A Psalm of David. Unto thee, O Yahweh, do I lift up my soul.1
David turns to prayer for help and there is no doubt to whom this prayer is directed; it is directed to Yahweh. He lifts his soul to God, directing it into God’s presence. Each of us needs to take control of our will and soul if we want to be of use to God. This is an attempt to turn all attention to Yahweh and away from earthly needs. It’s a way of saying that we can enter that frame of mind that excludes this earthly realm and focus on God. Check out Psalm 86:4 and Psalm 143:8 for two other psalms that begin with lifting the soul.
2 O my Elohim, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
This is a psalm about faith and trust. Faith brings about trust, because when you have faith in something, the more you cultivate that faith, the more you trust. Think about climbing a ladder. You have faith that it will be safe and get you onto the roof and each rung you take increases your faith. By the time you get to roof-level, you trust the ladder.
This verse also has the first use of the word Elohim in this psalm. Note that verse one used the name of God, Yahweh. The difference between Elohim and Yahweh, as I see it, is that Elohim (the plural form of El) is a sort of generic word for God, (i.e., small-g, god, since it is a common word throughout the Middle Eastern world), while Yahweh is the proper name for the God of Israel – the self-existent and eternal one – the LORD, the I AM THAT I AM. David is very specific; there is no doubt that Jehovah is his God.
3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
David is petitioning God for all the believers, not just himself. “… let none that wait on thee be ashamed:” This phrase is written in what is called the optative mood, which expresses hope. It is not a truth that is being spoken; it is an opinion or a request. The clause following is also an optative.
4 Show me thy ways, O Yahweh; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the Elohim of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
David appeals to God to teach and to lead him in His truth and paths. Notice the progression of our walk with God. If one desires salvation, one must walk in the ways of God. We need to have instruction and guidance to learn God’s truth. We ask for guidance and teaching through prayer. God answers! Too many people, many of them are our leaders, don’t think that God answers prayer. It is time to start believing that God is a living God and that he does answer prayer.
Ways refers to methods; methods by which God approaches man and methods in which God deals with man, which is with mercy and lovingkindness. We want to know the ways, or methods involved, to find the path to God. We need to see when and how God works in the world around and instruct us in methods of how to deal with people the way God deals with people. How we deal with others is of primary concern to God. There are all sorts of verses that deal with helping the widow and the orphan and visiting prisoners and feeding and clothing the needy.
Paths refers to just that – the path our walk in this life takes: the path of truth; the path of mercy; the path of love, and so forth. These are the choices we make. A particular choice of path defines who we are and God would have us choose the paths of one who runs after Him.
6 Remember, O Yahweh, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
God is full of mercy and overflowing with lovingkindness and these have been God’s ways forever. If we read the Old Testament and look for God’s grace and mercy instead of only focusing on God’s wrath, we will get a whole new perspective on our God. We find that God is loving and kind to His people (and not only the Israelites) and he prospers them and the land when they follow His precepts. But when their actions reach a tipping point of wrong living, there is punishment.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Yahweh.
We all remember the sins of our youth, full of foolish impetuousness and largely impulse-driven. For the most part these are uncalculated and little thought given to the results that occur because of them. They are more easily excused by our peers, but they are, none-the-less, sins that require forgiveness.
As adults, we are more aware of what we are doing – or at least we should be more aware. The word for transgressions speaks more of a breach of trust and of rebellion. This type of sin requires more thought and calculation before carrying it out. It may be driven by passion, but it is still sin and as adults we are responsible. Forgiveness is required.
8 Good and upright is Yahweh: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
A truly repentant sinner is meek (humble). God will teach repentant sinners how to be closer to Him. Verse nine amplifies this: when the sinner becomes humble it is a result of repentance and a repentant sinner is a believer. Ezekiel 33:14-16 says that if a sinner repents of his ways then all his sins are forgotten.
10 All the paths of Yahweh are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
God’s path to all who keep His covenant and His testimonies is the path of mercy and truth.
11 For thy name’s sake, O Yahweh, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
David is humble – Israel’s greatest king; the man who ran after God’s own heart; the man who had everything shows his humility in the previous three verses. It doesn’t matter who we are or how good we try to be, we all need forgiveness, because we are fallen.
12 What man is he that feareth Yahweh? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
Our journey is from sin to repentance; from repentance to humbleness; from humility to instruction; from instruction to covenant-keeping; from covenant-keeping to fear of God. This is the everyone’s road who would learn the ways of God. We are taught about this path we have chosen. We accept the teaching and instruction of God because our desire is to be as close to Him as we possibly can be and that is our purpose in life: to love, honor, and fear our Lord.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
The soul of the God-fearing follower rests easy Psalms 49:15 and Psalms 91:1,2,9-11 knowing that he is living in the shadow of the Most-High. He shall inherit the earth or the land that has been given to him. For the Christian, this means that we heirs to the Kingdom of God as His Sons and Daughters through the victory of Jesus Christ over sin, death, and the power of the Devil.
14 The secret of Yahweh is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.
These are one of those passages that can be confusing and I think it is more often than not because of the way it has been translated. This is where the use of a Hebrew dictionary or lexicon comes in handy. The Hebrew word, cowd, that has been translated as “secret.” But it is also translated as: a session; company of persons; intimacy; consultation, counsel, secret counsel; familiar converse; intimacy with God; and secret. A word like intimacy or secret counsel instead of just “secret” would cause less confusion in the long run and I think describe what is intended.
The man who fears God will be shown the covenant and perhaps this is why “secret” was used in the first clause. A covenant is not something that is necessarily made public, at least in the details. The public may think it foolish and so scoff or attempt to take advantage.
15 Mine eyes are ever toward Yahweh; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
The psalmist reveals his desire and his state as a follower of God: He is always looking to Him and for Him in his walk in life. As a result, he who fears God will be delivered from the snares and traps that will ultimately be set by the enemy. When the term net is used, it means calculated and crafty traps, traps that are hidden and not easily seen. Fearing God also helps us to avoid the traps of the enemy because when we do fear God, we are able to hear and accept His guidance.
16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
David’s cries for Yahweh’s intervention into his troubles are stated in this and the remainder of the psalm’s verses. When I feel desolate and afflicted, times are tough. I feel alone and ill and maybe that illness is more like a feeling of craziness than illness – like I am going out of my mind. David often felt this – the troubles of his heart are enlarged – we’ve seen it in the few psalms that we have read. When I think about this – David having trials and troubles to the point of feeling sick and crazy – I realize that I shouldn’t berate myself for having the similar feelings. He was the greatest king of Israel and even he had troubles that seemed insurmountable!
18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
Forgiveness of sins – the asking for forgiveness – is the first step to approaching God, because God cannot be where there is iniquity. Once we sincerely ask for forgiveness we can approach God and present our case.
20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
We look to God for the assurance that He will not give up our soul to the enemy or in any way cast us away from Him. Instead, we want the complete opposite: to be kept and to be delivered of the present turmoil. I like the last phrase, though. In your prayers, do you ever say things like this? Things like, I trust you Lord; I will follow you; I love you? I recently began telling God these things, and I have to say, it is frightening if it is said in the spirit of truth and full knowledge of what is being said – but I in no way regret saying them. Since I have made statements of confirmation to God, my life has become … interesting. I recommend it if you dare.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
22 Redeem Israel, O Elohim, out of all his troubles. (Word of Yahweh Version)
Here David asks God to remember his ethics, honesty, moral character and righteousness that he may weather the judgment he has asked Yahweh to make – hopefully in his favor. All he can do now is stand before God and wait. And finally, a prayer for Israel.
Thank you and God bless.
1 All psalm quotes of Psalms 25 are from the Words of Yahweh version. Official notice: “Scripture taken from The Word of Yahweh, ©2003 by The Assembly of Yahweh. Used by permission.” Other versions as noted.