Psalm 25
A Poem Of Promise

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1.  I read you Psalm 25 for today.  This is essentially a psalm for an individual person.  Furthermore, perhaps it is a psalm that had at its background some suffering in a specific situation.  However, at the end of this psalm it ends with the words, "O God, please redeem Israel from all its suffering."  It seems this portion was tacked on afterwards.  This might have been added on and used in the community worship of the Israelites.  Also, this psalm which begins with the alphabet was like a song in ABC's, barring a few exceptions.  This was for the purpose of memorizing it and it must have been so they could sing it together.  Thus, the Israelites dared to memorize together this strong psalm of a highly individualistic tone and considered it a song to be used in unison.  The reason it is like this must be because in this individualist psalm the experiences which the believers held in common were passed on in song.  Because of this, we too can read and sing this song as our song.  This is my song and it is your song.

My Spirit Looks To You

2.  To begin, let's read from verse one to verse seven.

3.  "O Lord, my spirit looks to you
     O my God, I trust in you.
     Please, that I might not be ashamed
     see that my enemies are not proud.
     Whoever puts his hope in you
     Will never be ashamed.
     Those who deceive others in vain will be ashamed.
     O Lord, show me your way
     Teach me the way to follow you.
     Lead me in your truth.
     Teach me
     You [are] the God who delivers me.
     I will put my hope in you without it ever dying out.
     O Lord, remember me
     In your everlasting mercy and lovingkindness.
     Don't remember the sin and rebellion of my youth
     Since your lovingkindness is deep and [because of] your grace
     O Lord, please keep me in your heart," (verses one through seven).

4.  We don't know what kind of enemy it was spoken about here in this text.  We don't know what kind of suffering he was specifically undergoing.  Only that because the words "those who deceive others in vain will be ashamed" appears there in the text we could think that the suffering of this psalmist was based on the sinfulness or the insincertiy of someone else.  [That someone else] may originally have been [some of] his friends.  But, now he was surrounded completely by their hatred.

5.  One does not usually live surrounded by friends.  One does not always live surrounded by the sincerity of others.  Even though they are not a clear cut enemy often times troubles come from those around us.  We frequently suffer because of the sinfulness or deception of another person.  Also, when the suffering we experience is without warrant it swells out several times over.  The experience of this psalmist, more or less, must surely be what any of us experience.

6.  When surrounded by enemies many people just think of the enemy factor.  When they suffer their head is full of only the fact of their pain.  However, this person does not spend his time looking towards his enemies or his suffering.  Instead, he devotes most of his time looking towards God.  He is looking to the God who will pull his spirit up high; for, he knows the one and only true One even though he is surrounded by the sinfulness of his enemies.  If he were to place his hope in humankind, he would be disappointed.  But, the person who puts his hope in Him will not be disappointed or ashamed.  Consequently, he is not just seeking for a way to escape his hard times but is seeking for God's way.  He is seeking for the way to live by God's truth.

7.  However, when a person seeks for the way of God and looks toward God, what is made known before such truth is the dirtiness of one's lowly self.  [What is made known by seeking for God's way] is one's very own sin.  The person who can only see the sin of someone else, the person who can only see the sinfulness of their enemy is still in utter darkness.  If  one seeks the light, one has to be exposed to the light.  When exposed to the light, one can not help but admit one's dirtiness.  When this person had looked towards God, he could only trust in the mercy and lovingkindness of God.  If he were not trusting in the mercy and lovingkindness of God, he could not be looking at the true God.  He just prays to God that he would remember his lovingkindness and he would forget the sins of his past days.  He surely was suffering for the sin of someone else.  But, it was made plain that before God he could not bring forth any kind of righteousness of his own lowly self.

Looking Towards The Lord Of The Covenant

8.  As we go on, let's read from verse eight to verse fourteen.

9.  "The Lord is deep in grace and righteous
      And shows sinners the way.
      He makes judgments and guides the poor,
      He teaches the poor the way of the Lord.
      For the person who keeps his covenant and commandments
      All the ways of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth.
      O Lord, on behalf of your name
      Please forgive sinful me.
      Who [is] the person who fears the Lord?
      The Lord will show that person the way he ought to chose.
      That person will live filled with grace.
      His descendants will inherit the land.
      To the person who fears the Lord
      The Lord will enlighten him on the secrets of the covenant,"
      (verses eight through fourteen).

10.  The existence of his enemies is way at the back of his mind. His thoughts are directed towards his covenant with God, his one and only ground [of authority]. "Covenant" means a bond between God and a person. It is not something built by human beings but is something that is given by the grace of God.  It is when God says, "You are my people" and "I am your God."  Expressing faith and living as a believer is none other than living as the people of God in the bond which God gives.

11.  He is thinking of the covenant of God and when he thinks of the bond with God which God has given, he realizes that God will not keep casting off a sinner, but is one to show him the way and guide him.  The Lord will teach the poor person of His ways.   Here "poor person" is not merely about a person who is economically distressed.  As we have in verse twelve, it is a person who fears the Lord.  That is, it is about the person who admits his own sinfulness, admits that he is a poor person having no means of any kind whereby he can save himself, and who humbles himself trusting only in the Lord alone.  God will not destroy a person like that, but instead will mercifully show him the way.  For the person living in the covenant of the Lord, all the ways of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth.  So, he just earnestly asks for divine forgiveness.  "O Lord, on behalf of your name, please forgive sinful me."

12.  We can see in the words of this person the blessedness of the person who fears the Lord.  The sinner who has lowered himself in humility before God and has sought for mercy looks to the future and lifts his eyes up.  The way is not cleared by a human being.  The way is already ready.  The Lord shows the way which one should choose to the person who fears Him.  Also, besides [benefitting] him, the promise of God's grace takes hold of and is not detached from his descendants either.  Thus, in their walk those who fear the Lord arrive more and more at being made to deeply perceive intuitively [their] bond with God.

The Prayer Of A Pure And Upright Person

13.  Finally, let's read from verse fifteen to verse twenty-two.

14.  "I will always focus my eyes on the Lord.
        On the One who will pull my feet out of the snare.
        Turn your face and have mercy on me.
        I am poor and lonely.
        Set my troubled heart free
        Pull me out of my pains.
        Please look at my poverty and toil.
        Please, please take away my sin.
        Please look, my enemies just keep increasing.
        They hate me, they practice unlawfulness.
        I turn myself over to your control.
        Preserve my soul, help me out and
        Please see that I am not ashamed.
        I place my hope in you and if I am pure and upright
        This will preserve me," (verses fifteen through twenty-one).

15.  This psalmist again makes an appeal for his personal predicament.  He feels himself like an animal caught in a snare.  He cann't do a thing for his current situation in his own strength.  He is alone.  There is no one to understand his pain.  [His] enemies are increasing more and more.  He is surrounded by the hatred of many.  As he is among those who practice unlawfulness he is unable to preserve himself.

16.  But, he earnestly focuses his eyes on the Lord.  The words he uses to make his appeal to God over his predicament are no longer a cry out of desperation.  He knows who will surely pull his feet out of the net.  He focuses his eyes on Him.  He makes an appeal over his loneliness, but the truth is he isn't alone; for, he knew the one who was turning his face toward him and showing him mercy.  In truth, the lonely person does have someone to tell that he is lonely.  Even though he wasn't understood by anyone, he knew there was One who was seeing the details of his pain and toil.  In addition, the Lord said the following to Moses with respect to the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt:  "I see in detail the suffering of my people who are in Egypt and I hear their cries when they cry because of the slavedrivers, and I know their pains," (Exodus 3:7).  He made his appeal believing that this same Lord had to be concerned for his own predicament.  "Please look at my poverty and toil, ([poverty] can be translated as "suffering" as well)."

17.  Above all else, [God] is the one who takes away sin.  How happy he is to be able to pray, "Please, please take away my sin."  Based on this fact he is able to turn himself over to God.  As he turns himself over to God he says:  "I place my hope in you and if I am pure and upright this will preserve me," (verse twenty-one).  When he says here that he is "pure and upright," it is not his own righteousness upon which he is able to lean and trust.  What he was saying goes along with what we already saw in his words where he was seeking for forgiveness of sin.  One of the things being pure and upright means is when he says "I place my hope in you," written before that.  It just means facing God, focusing one's eyes on Him, and living in hope only on Him.  We should exchange the word faith for this.  It is about living in a bond with God.  Besides this there is nothing to preserve, support, or give life to a person.

18.  "O God, please redeem
        Israel from all its hardships," (verse twenty-two).

19.  The Israelites considered the song of this one individual person as a song of worship which they sang in unison. Furthermore, this song had been passed down in singing in a [long] history of hard times.  After several thousands of years it has come down to our possession.  This song was given for us also who are redeemed in Christ and included in the people of God.  We, too, like this psalmist, can appear before God without reserve, wait in hope in Him, and pray, "Please redeem me from all my hardships."

 
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