By Barbara Higdon
There are dozens of alphabet books for children that help to teach them their ABCs. Most feature a picture of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet or acrostic poems starting each line with a different letter.
Psalm 25, our Lenten reading for today, is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Think of it as the ABCs of a prayer for protection, guidance, forgiveness and deliverance. These acrostics were easier to memorize at a time when few people were literate, and they depended on oral sharing of Scripture and devotional thoughts.
Like children, we will always need instructions and the basic ABCs of following and trusting God. When the Psalmist (possibly David) begins this poem, he affirms his absolute trust in God because of who God is. God is “good and upright” and “loving and faithful.” It isn’t the petitioner who has these characteristics; it’s his God.
The psalmist is admittedly fearful, not just for his physical safety, but that he not be shamed by his enemies. Though we live in uncertain times, we probably fear that we’ll bring shame on ourselves more than we fear for our lives. Our pride can be a scary thing.
One of the hardest things for many of us to do is ask forgiveness. The psalmist begs that God forgive his youthful sins and forget his rebelliousness. Oh that our rebelliousness and sin were only confined to our youth!
He also asks for instruction—that God teach him His ways. That’s a school that never closes. We’re never too old to learn something about God’s path for us, and being teachable means
As modeled in this psalm, we reaffirm God’s character, ask for his forgiveness and pledge to continue learning about his loving ways. And we’re never past reviewing the ABCs of our faith.