Monday, January 23, 2017

Psalms To See Me Through Psalm 25: Protection From Enemies, Guidance to His Truth, and Forgiveness

A Psalm of David.

Few Psalms begin as personal prayer and for the community of believers; Psalm twenty-five is one of those sacred poems. This Psalms is an acrostic, meaning its verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This Psalm resembles wisdom literature; the psalmist seeks with learning and finding the right path, yet in this psalm, David is also concerned with forgiveness and deliverance from distress.  
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed {vv. 1-3}.[1]

I lift up my soul to you. You are my God. I trust you. These words should be dripping from our tongues when we pray. They should be the first words we utter as we cry to the Lord for help. David serves as our example. Not just in this Psalm, but in many others. He always declared God’s faithfulness when in trouble. He is once again surrounded by his enemies, and doesn’t want his enemies to come out victorious over him and bring him to shame. He is asking for Yahweh to vindicate him in the face of his enemies. How often have we felt those same emotions when we have been betrayed or lied about? I have. Cry out to God. He may not vindicate us in the way we want or desire, but He is faithful to those who fear Him. If God will answer David, it gives hope to all who place their trust in Yahweh, not to waver in their faith and to be confident in His faithfulness. David turns from praying for vindication to seeking righteousness.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day {vv. 4-5}.

In the midst of his enemies who would triumph over him, is a prayer for direction and instruction. David is not merely seeking God’s will for his life. He is seeking far more; God’s Truth. ‘Ways” and ‘Paths’ speak to righteous living before the God of Heaven, and the place to find God’s truth is found in His Word—His Torah— which also demonstrate His character. “In the Psalms God’s law, or Torah, takes at least three forms: God’s ways, God’s works, and God’s words.”[2] The Torah is God’s will for human life divinely revealed and carried out in Israel’s story, and that of mankind.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord {vv. 6-7}.

From the moment I was conceived, God’s Mercy and Goodness followed me without retreat. God’s mercies to mankind accompanied Adam the day he was created. Elohim’s first command to him was given in mercy; On the day you eat from the tree you shall surely die {Gen. 2:17}; A warning wrapped in Mercy. Remember The Psalm concerning our Great Shepherd? His Goodness and Mercy follow us all the days of our lives.  David is not perfect, and in light of God’s Torah, His Word, he pleads for mercy. I did the same just the other day. One cannot seek Yahweh’s Word for truth and not repent in dust and ashes. He pleads to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy in light of His Word, and His character.

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great
{vv. 8-11}.

These verses sing the very attributes and character of Yahweh—He is called by the Name good and forgiving. The Psalms demonstrate God’s action in history with “the ways of the Lord,” or his “paths” or “deeds,” which also teach His character.[3] He is worthy of all our praise. He has dealt wonderfully with His people, with me, even though I am rebellious, stubborn, and hard-headed. I don’t deserve His grace or mercy one ounce, yet He grants it freely and lovingly when I cry out to Him.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, And his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. My eyes are continually toward the Lord, For He will pluck my feet out of the net. {vv. 12-15}.

Some fear God’s judgments, but others fear God Himself. Those who fear God Himself know deep in their heart the Lord’s awesome power and their smallness in His sight. Those who fear the Lord love what He loves, and hates what He hates, they dare not sin; they do not want to break the Lord’s heart. When they do sin, they repent whole-heartedly as David repeatedly did when he fell into sin. For those who fear God, He is their great reward. Not only will their soul abide in prosperity (Shalom, peace), but the Lord will share secrets with them and reveal His covenant to them; He shares with them the intimacy of His counsel, and takes the believer into His confidence. Because of this, David keeps His eyes on the Lord, just as we should. His counsel will keep and deliver him. Yahweh indeed is a great reward.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many, And they hate me with violent hatred.  Guard my soul and deliver me; Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You {vv.16-21}.

God please pay attention to me. Pour your grace on me like rain. I feel so alone right now; the trial is too hard. Please deliver me from this mess! Can’t you see I am in trouble? I know I don’t deserve it, Merciful God, but please forgive me! Forgive me yet again for sinning against you. I can’t seem to get this area of my life right, I can’t get the victory. Look at all my so-called friends and those at church who judge me, mock me, and make me their table talk. They all hope that I will fail. They don’t think I will amount to much or that I am as good as they are. God guard my soul, deliver me from their words which seek to hurt and tear me down. Deliver me from their grasp. Please don’t let them shame me anymore, God I run to you where I am safe. God I am not perfect, but I seek to follow you every day, God I wait on you, I know you will help me.

My week grasp of David’s plea to God; I have been there. I have been the subject of ridicule, and sadly, I have been the perpetrator of ridicule. I know we can all relate to David’s plea and cry to God; we have cried out to God in a similar fashion. God let your grace fall like rain.
Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all his troubles {v.22}.

David steps out of himself for a moment to remember to pray for others. He prays for himself, and then prays for Israel. In the midst of trying circumstances, God powerfully uses our intercession for others in our own deliverance. When we have a heart for others who are facing life’s trial—just as we are—our intercession raises to Him as a sweet-smelling fragrance. Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and many others interceded on behalf of people, often before or instead of themselves. They sought God’s mercy, even for those who did not seem to deserve it. Pray for those who ridicule you and persecute you, in doing so, you will be counted righteous.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” {Matt. 5:43-48}.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New American Standard Version (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
[2]C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering The Book Of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 216. 
[3] Ibid. 

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