St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Saturday, June 27 By: Joel Kirn
Psalm 25 New International Version (NIV)
Psalm 25 Of David. 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.[b] 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!
I first read through this Psalm by David in college and was struck by three things; actually, really four but the fourth I’ll leave you to consider. Penitence, however, is the first theme. Three times he asks for forgiveness from sin and acknowledges his own state as a sinner including a reference in verse to “sins of my youth and rebellious ways,” which may have been why it struck me over 30 years ago and continues to speak now for in my heart I am ever the rebel. The second was and still is God as teacher. This theme is also repeated three times in verses 4, 8 and 10. The third major theme is how affliction and oppression from both outside sources and inward anguish are interwoven with the writer’s sin. Wrapping these ideas together while looking at our ourselves as seen through the lens of this writing shows the writer and us to be our own worst enemies. And yet, even as David surveys the land and finds himself despised; he is not alone. Here, in the midst of the Valley of Death, his hope is in the Lord.
Might this have been penned during David’s being driven from Jerusalem by his son, Absolem, when David, while he is running away is even cursed by a supporter of Saul and chased by those he once considered friends and allies? If there was ever a time for despair this was it: when a civil war within both country and family is brewing and David knows his own handling of Absolem, starting with the rape of Absolem’s sister by another of David’s sons then David’s silence as Absolem first took revenge and then filled the leadership vacuum left by his father’s continued silence led to this moment. We won’t know for sure until we can ask him but what we do know is even in despair and in the face personal failing, David turns to and relies on God, firmly believing God will ultimately protect him. His belief was not in vain. Scripture tells us David was eventually restored to the throne though not without struggle and personal pain. That may be our path as well, but we too can be restored.
How old was David when he wrote this?
Does the Psalm speak to you in some way that brings moments to mind?
Are there painful moments where you know your own mistakes and sins have created rifts between you, God and others, and for which you have not repented?
Have you, like David, acknowledged both your own sin and God’s sovereignty?
The fourth observation, and you be the judge… We are, even as lay persons, to consider scripture through the eyes of both faith and criticism. I’m personally not sure the last verse wasn’t added later. To me, it doesn’t fit with the very personal themes expressed in the Psalm and even the language in the various versions I’ve read doesn’t have the same lilt. What do you think?