A Devotional Exposition
of Psalm 25

by  Son Nguyen

1. Unto You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

4. Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.

5. Lead me in Your truth .... for You are the God of my salvation; on
You, I wait all the day long.

6. Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your loving-kindnesses for
they're from eternity.

7. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my rebellings.

11. O LORD, pardon my iniquity for it is great.

18. Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins.

20-21. Keep my soul .... Let purity and uprightness keep me for I wait
on You.

Background:  A psalm of David.  David is hemmed in, he is afflicted, he has
no where to go, he feels troubles and death are hanging all around and his
life is flashing by (this psalm comes right after PS 23 in which he was
walking through the valley of the shadow of death), Saul is pursuing, the
people are turning against him, he can trust no one .... If we were in his
shoes and going through a time when nothing is going right, one
heartache/disappointment/calamity followed upon another, everything is
falling apart in our lives, the pain is so great and we are so drained, what
would our thoughts be saying if someone could open up our mind and read the
inner secrets of our thoughts?  Now, let's hear the thoughts of a man that
God said is a man after His own heart.

"Unto You, O LORD, I lift up my soul." - The key words here are "You
LORD" and "my soul".  While David has friends - David always did have a few
trusted & talented & loyal men surrounding him, he didn't go to these first.
He went to God, and Him alone, first.  Then he said "I lift up my soul":  he
didn't lift up just prayers/words/thoughts but his entire being.  When a man
or a woman sees God for who He truly is (everything) and he sees himself for
who he really is (nothing), then religion is real and
all-consuming/all-encompassing (not merely a formula or a required duty).
He gives to God his heart and his head and everything within himself.

"Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in
Your truth ...." - If you're in trouble and you feel that people are against
you even though you're in the right and they are in the wrong, what do you
usually ask the Lord first?  Most likely, we're asking for a victory/a
change in our circumstances/a change in the other person's heart without us
having to do anything or we may ask for God's blessing on our
plans/solution.  But note that David didn't ask that way.  Instead he asked
that God would teach him to follow His ways/paths/truth.  Note the 3
remarkable words:  "ways" (as in seeing the way) denotes asking for wisdom
to see which way God would have us go; "paths" (as in walking along the
path) denotes being willing to walk in the way which God has shown us to go
i.e. being willing to journey with God; and "truth" which says that whatever
He is going to show us we're going to take it as the absolute
answer/solution and we will make no deviation from or improvisation upon it.
What we're saying is that we may have certain sets of good plans/responses
derived from our previous experiences but we are willing to scrap them and
listen to God afresh, as opposed to asking Him to improve upon them, if
that's what He wants us to do.  That's true faith and that's obedient trust!
It is also wise to go in Him since, more often than not, our ways/paths were
the very ones that led us into the predicament that we're in.

"for You are the God of my salvation; on You, I wait all the day
long." - Have you ever been in love and waiting for he/she to call or come
by?  Have you ever eagerly waited for your Mom and Dad to come home when
you're little?  The feeling is like my life doesn't begin till that person I
love, who is just the greatest and the reason for my living, is with me.
It's the feeling that in everything I want to do, I will involve and please
that person.  There is an intimacy and a complete abandonment in worship
with this most precious person.  This is how God is to a man whose heart is
humbled and contrite.  Despite his pains and troubles which are real and can
go on unrelenting even as he is praying/talking to His God, he is not
interested in finding himself or justifying himself in others' eyes but he
is so concerned about his relationship with his Lord.  And even though he
may have his own ideas on how to get out from his sorrows and problems, he
hangs all his hope on God to deliver him.

"Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your loving-kindnesses for
they're from eternity." - the appeal here is not on the basis of our
righteousness/status/goodness but on God's attribute.  God is love and He
never will change.  Let's us fall into the hands of God, for with Him, even
in wrath there's mercy.

"Do not remember the sins of my youth or my rebellings .... O LORD,
pardon my iniquity for it is great." - Sometimes we are so consumed by
our own sorrows that we look at others' sins first instead of our very own.
While it may be true that we're afflicted by the deliberate actions of
someone else, but in our complaint to God, let's not forget to do a
self-examination on the wrongs that we have done to God first.  Remember,
more often than not, every non-physical problem is, at core, a moral
problem, with its roots in a person's relationship to God.  Do we really
know how much worse our sins are as compared to our afflictions and the
emptiness in our heart due to lacking a certain great thing that we
desire/long for?  In this case, Saul is chasing after David without cause
but David wasn't all righteous either.  He said and did nothing to reassure
Saul of his allegiance when the crowd was singing David's praises and
putting down Saul the king after the two beat the Philistines in a big
battle.  Before God takes us out of troubles, He first cleanses out our
inside.  No improvement of our situation can begin till we recognize our
iniquity.  God doesn't just want to merely get us out of troubles - He wants
us to grow and be more like Him in every area, and not just the ones we
happen to be dealing with at the moment of affliction.  Before our
circumstances are changed, we often have to be the first to change.

"Look on my affliction and my pain .... and forgive all my sins" -
Having dealt with the stuff which deals with our character and integrity,
God wants us to know that He knows that our pains are real to Him.  He feels
what we feel and He knows what we know.  In other words, we shouldn't
minimize the pain we're experiencing going through or be stupidly stoic
about them.  The God of heaven is not so far removed from us that He doesn't
care about our personal feelings.  It's OK to cry and express our hurt.  Our
cries He hears and our tears He holds dear.  But at the same time, He also
wants us to know that in our anger at those who may have hurt us or in our
agony and remorse for the things we have displeased Him and hurt others, the
very best and foremost necessary thing is forgiveness from Him flowing unto
us and then unto others.  No healing will begin till forgiveness fully
reigns in our soul.

"Keep my soul .... Let purity and uprightness keep me ...." - Lastly,
the man who is after God's own heart asks that God will keep him
through purity and uprightness - he doesn't just want to get out of trouble
and be happy again but then goes about his own ways unchanged.  What are the
significance of these two qualities (why not strength or wisdom or
dedication or courage)?  Both purity and uprightness are imputed attributes
that can only be gotten via God's holiness which require a continual
pride-crushing daily walking with Him.  It is also an acknowledgement of
needing the Holy Spirit's help, moment by moment, and a completely opening
up of ourselves to His leading.

Conclusions:

a.  Do we find ourselves going to God first in everything?  Do we go to Him
at all?  And do give Him our soul?

b.  In our complaints, do we pause to reflect on our own sins against Him
and assess how well our relationship with Him is going?

c.  Is our hope centered on more than just a miraculous intervention from
God with no effort of repentance on our part?  Is it in God and in Him
changing us?

d.  Are we so real with God and He so real in us that we are intimately
waiting on Him all the day long like our Lover or Supreme Counselor?

I'm praying that the answer to all of these questions is "Yes, Amen!" and
that this is coming more true for my life everyday as well as yours.  I'm
asking for the Holy Spirit's help to keep me opened to go in the manners of
His teachings.  I want to feel the sublime joy of being called a man after
God's heart for I think it is the sweetest spiritual and emotional
experience a man can have.  Amen!

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