Psalms 25

PSALM XXV

The psalmist, in great distress, calls upon God frequently, 1-5;

prays for pardon with the strong confidence of being heard,

6-11;

shows the blessedness of the righteous, 12-14;

again earnestly implores the Divine mercy; and prays for the

restoration of Israel, 15-22.

NOTES ON PSALM XXV

This Psalm seems to refer to the case of the captives in

Babylon, who complain of oppression from their enemies, and

earnestly beg the help and mercy of God.

It is the first of those called acrostic Psalms, i.e., Psalms

each line of which begins with a several letter of the Hebrew

alphabet in their common order. Of acrostic Psalms there are

seven, viz., xxv., xxxiv., xxxvii., cxi., cxii., cxix., and

cxlv. It is fashionable to be violent in encomiums on the Jews for

the very faithful manner in which they have preserved the Hebrew

Scriptures; but these encomiums are, in general, ill placed. Even

this Psalm is a proof with what carelessness they have watched

over the sacred deposit committed to their trust. The letter vau

is wanting in the fifth verse, and koph in the eighteenth;

the letter resh being twice inserted, once instead of koph,

and a whole line added at the end, entirely out of the

alphabetical series.

Verse 1. Do I lift up my soul.] His soul was cast down, and by

prayer and faith he endeavours to lift it up to God.

Verse 2. I trust in thee] I depend upon thy infinite goodness

and mercy for my support and salvation.

Let me not be ashamed] Hide my iniquity, and forgive my guilt.

Verse 3. Let none that wait on thee be ashamed] Though he had

burden enough of his own, he felt for others in similar

circumstances, and became an intercessor in their behalf.

Transgress without cause.] Perhaps bogedim may here

mean idolatrous persons. "Let not them that wait upon and worship

thee be ashamed: but they shall be ashamed who vainly worship, or

trust in false gods." See Mal 2:11-16. The Chaldeans have evil

entreated us, and oppressed us: they trust in their idols, let

them see the vanity of their idolatry.

Verse 4. Show me thy ways] The psalmist wishes to know God's

way, to be taught his path, and to be led into his truth. He

cannot discern this way unless God show it; he cannot learn the

path unless God teach it; and he cannot walk in God's truth

unless God lead him: and even then, unless God continue to teach,

he shall never fully learn the lessons of his salvation; therefore

he adds, "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me;" Ps 25:5.

That he may get this showing, teaching, and leading, he comes to

God, as the "God of his salvation;" and that he may not lose his

labour, he "waits on him all the day." Many lose the benefit of

their earnest prayers, because they do not persevere in them. They

pray for a time; get remiss or discouraged; restrain prayer; and

thus lose all that was already wrought for and in them.

Verse 5. On thee do I wait] This is the line in which vau,

the sixth letter in the order of the alphabet, is lost; for the

line begins with aleph, othecha, "on thee." But four

of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have veothecha,

"AND upon thee." This restores the lost vau, which signifies

"and." The Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, Arabic, AEthiopic, and

Anglo-Saxon, preserve it.

Verse 6. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies, and thy

loving-kindness] The word rachamim, means the

commiseration that a man feels in his bowels at the sight of

distress. The second word, chasadim, signifies those

kindnesses which are the offspring of a profusion of benevolence.

They have been ever of old.] Thou wert ever wont to display

thyself as a ceaseless fountain of good to all thy creatures.

Verse 7. Remember not the sins of my youth] Those which I have

committed through inconsiderateness, and heat of passion.

According to thy mercy] As it is worthy of thy mercy to act

according to the measure, the greatness, and general practice of

thy mercy; so give me an abundant pardon, a plentiful salvation.

For thy goodness' sake] Goodness is the nature of God; mercy

flows from that goodness.

Verse 8. Good and upright is the Lord] He is good in his

nature, and righteous in his conduct.

Therefore will he teach sinners] Because he is good, he will

teach sinners, though they deserve nothing but destruction: and

because he is right, he will teach them the true way.

Verse 9. The meek will he guide] anavim, the poor,

the distressed; he will lead in judgment-he will direct them in

their cause, and bring it to a happy issue, for he will show them

the way in which they should go.

Verse 10. All the paths of the Lord] orchoth signifies

the tracks or ruts made by the wheels of wagons by often passing

over the same ground. Mercy and truth are the paths in which God

constantly walks in reference to the children of men; and so

frequently does he show them mercy, and so frequently does he

fulfil his truth, that his paths are earnestly discerned. How

frequent, how deeply indented, and how multiplied are those tracks

to every family and individual! Wherever we go, we see that God's

mercy and truth have been there by the deep tracks they have left

behind them. But he is more abundantly merciful to those who keep

his covenant and his testimonies; i.e. those who are conformed,

not only to the letter, but to the spirit of his pure religion.

Verse 11. For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon] I have sinned; I

need mercy; there is no reason why thou shouldst show it, but what

thou drawest from the goodness of thy own nature.

Verse 12. That feareth the Lord] Who has a proper apprehension

of his holiness, justice, and truth; and who, at the same time,

sees himself a fallen spirit, and a transgressor of God's holy

law, and consequently under the curse. That is the person that

truly and reverently fears God.

Him shall he teach] Such a person has a teachable spirit.

The way that he shall choose.] The way that in the course of

Providence he has chosen, as the way in which he is to gain things

honest in the sight of all men; God will bless him in it, and give

him as much earthly prosperity as may be useful to his soul in his

secular vocation.

Verse 13. His soul shall dwell at ease] betob talin,

"shall lodge in goodness;" this is the marginal reading in our

version; and is preferable to that in the text.

His seed shall inherit] His posterity shall be blessed. For them

many prayers have been sent up to God by their pious fathers; and

God has registered these prayers in their behalf.

Verse 14. The secret of the Lord is with them] sod,

the secret assembly of the Lord is with them that fear him; many

of them have a Church in their own house.

He will show them his covenant.] He will let them see how great

blessings he has provided for them that love him. Some refer this

to the covenant of redemption by Christ Jesus.

Verse 15. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord] All my expectation

is from him alone. If I get at any time entangled, he will pluck

my feet out of the net.

Verse 16. Turn thee unto me] Probably the prayer of the poor

captives in Babylon, which is continued through this and the

remaining verses.

Verse 17. The troubles of may heart are enlarged] The evils of

our captive state, instead of lessening, seem to multiply, and

each to be extended.

Verse 18. Look upon mine affliction] See my distressed

condition, and thy eye will affect thy heart.

Forgive all my sins.] My sins are the cause of all my

sufferings; forgive these.

This is the verse which should begin with the letter koph;

but, instead of it, we have resh both here, where it should not

be, and in the next verse where it should be. Dr. Kennicott reads

kumah, "arise," and Houbigant, ketsar, "cut

short.." The word which began with koph has been long lost out

of the verse, as every version seems to have read that which now

stands in the Hebrew text.

Verse 19. Consider mine enemies] Look upon them, and thou wilt

see how impossible it is that I should be able to resist and

overcome them. They are many, they hate me, and their hatred

drives them to acts of cruelty against me.

Verse 20. O keep my soul] Save me from sin, and keep me alive.

Let me not be ashamed] He ends as he began; see Ps 25:2: "Let

me not be confounded, for I put my trust in thee."

Verse 21. Let integrity and uprightness] I wish to have a

perfect heart, and an upright life. This seems to be the meaning

of these two words.

Verse 22. Redeems Israel, O God] The people are prayed for in

the preceding verses as if one person; now he includes the whole,

lest his own personal necessities should narrow his heart, and

cause him to forget his fellow sufferers.

This verse stands out of the order of the Psalm; and does not

appear to have formed a part of the alphabetical arrangement. It

is a general prayer for the redemption of Israel from captivity;

and may well be applied to those of the true Israel who are

seeking for complete redemption from the power, the guilt, and the

pollution of sin; and from all the troubles that spring from it.

And let it be ever known, that God alone can redeem Israel.

ANALYSIS OF THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM

This Psalm is a continued earnest prayer of a man or a people

pressed with danger and enemies, and sensible of God's heavy

displeasure against sin. It consists of five petitions.

I. His first petition is, that his "enemies not triumph over

him," Ps 25:2, 3.

II. His second is for instruction, Ps 25:4, 5, which he

urges, Ps 25:8-10, 12-14.

III. His third is for mercy and forgiveness,

Ps 25:6, 7, 11.

IV. His fourth is a renewal of his first, Ps 25:15-17, &c.,

with many arguments.

V. His fifth is for Israel in general, Ps 25:22.

I. He begins with the profession of his faith and confidence in

God, without which there can be no prayer: " Unto thee, O Lord,"

&c.; he relies not on, nor seeks after, any human help. And upon

this living hope, he prays-

1. For this life, that it shame him not, as it does where a man

hopes, and is frustrated: "Let me not be ashamed." Make it appear

that I hope not in thee in vain.

2. "Let not mine enemies triumph over me." Glorying that I am

deserted. This petition he urges by this argument: The example may

prove dangerous, if thou send me no help; but it will be to thy

glory, if I be relieved. If he were delivered, the faith and hope

of others would be confirmed; if deserted, the good would faint

and fail, the wicked triumph: therefore he prays, O, let none that

wait on thee be ashamed; but let them be ashamed who transgress,

that is, they that do me wrong maliciously, without my cause being

given by myself.

II. He petitions for instruction, that he may be always guided

and governed by the word of God, that he sink not under the cross,

but rely on God's promises.

1. "Show me thy ways, and teach me thy paths." Show me that thou

often dealest severely with thy best servants: bringest down,

before thou exaltest; mortifiest, before thou quickenest; and

settest the cross before the crown. Teach me-show me, that this is

thy way.

2. "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me." Cause me to remember

that thy promises are firm and true; yea and amen to those who

trust in thee. This makes me hope still: "Thou art the God of my

salvation."

III. His third petition is for mercy. He prays for mercy, and

the removal of the sin that obstructs it.

1. "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies, &c., which have been

ever of old;" i.e., deal mercifully with me as thou hast ever done

with those who flee to thee in their extremity.

2. He prays for the remission of the sins of his youth:

"Remember not the sins of my youth." This petition he repeats,

Ps 25:11: "For thy name's sake pardon mine iniquity;" and upon

this confession: "For it is great."

The psalmist here breaks off prayer; and, to confirm his

confidence, speaks of the nature and person of God. It is

necessary sometimes, even in the midst of our prayers, to call to

mind the nature of God, and his ways with his people, lest,

through a sense of our unworthiness or great unfaithfulness, we

should be discouraged. And this course David takes; he says,

1. "Good and upright is the Lord." 1. Good, for he receives

sinners gratis. 2. Upright-constant and true in his promises;

therefore he will teach sinners in the way.

2. "The meek will he guide in judgment." He will not suffer them

to be tempted above their strength; will teach them what to

answer; and will not proceed with rigour, but will interpret all

in the most favourable sense.

3. In a word, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth." 1.

Mercy, in that he freely offers the remission of sins, the graces

of his Spirit, support in distresses, and at last eternal life, to

those who by faith and a good conscience walk before him: "Keep

his covenant and his testimonies;" for the words of the covenant

are: "I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed;" upon which

follows: "Walk before me, and be thou perfect."

4. Upon the confidence of which promises and covenant the

psalmist repeats his prayer: "O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it

is great," Ps 25:11.

The psalmist now admires the happiness of him who trusts in God:

"What man is he that feareth the Lord!" This happiness he sets

forth by the fruits that follow his piety:-

1. The first fruit he shall gather is instruction and direction

in his vocation, and private life: "Him shall he teach in the

way," &c.

2. The second is, that his happiness shall not be momentary, but

firm and lasting: "His soul shall dwell at ease."

3. The third is, that he shall be happy in his posterity: "His

seed shall inherit the land."

4. The fourth is, that the redemption of mankind by Christ

Jesus, with all the effects of it, pardon, holiness, &c., which is

a secret unknown to the world, shall be revealed and applied to

him: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he

will show them his covenant."

IV. Being confirmed by these promises, and cheered with these

fruits, he,

1. Testifies his faith in God for deliverance: "My eyes are ever

toward the Lord; he will pluck my feet out of the net."

2. He then renews his former prayer, it being nearly the same as

that with which he began. It is conceived in several clauses: 1.

"Turn thee unto me." 2. "Have mercy upon me." 3. "O bring me out

of my distresses." 4. "Look upon my affliction and trouble, and

forgive me all my sins." 5. "Consider mine enemies." 6. "O keep my

soul, and deliver me." 7. "Let me not be ashamed." 8. "Let

integrity and uprightness preserve me."

Petitioners, and men in misery, think they can never say enough.

This makes him often repeat the same thing. The sum is, that God

would hear and grant him defence and deliverance in his dangers;

remission of sins which caused them; and protect, direct, and

govern him in his troubles.

3. That he might prevail in his suit, like an excellent orator,

he uses many arguments to induce God to be propitious to him:-

1. His faith and trust in his promises: "Mine eyes are ever

towards the Lord."

2. The danger he was now in: "His feet were in the net."

3. He was oppressed, alone, and had none to help him: "I am

desolate and afflicted."

4. His inward afflictions and pain were grievous: "The troubles

of my heart are enlarged."

5. His enemies were many, powerful, merciless, cruel: "Mine

enemies are many-and hate me with cruel hatred."

6. And yet I am innocent, and desire to be so; and am thy

servant: "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait

upon thee."

V. The psalmist having thus, through the Psalm, prayed for

himself, at last offers up a short but earnest petition for the

whole Church; which proceeds from that fellowship or communion

which ought to be among all saints: "Redeem Israel, O God, out of

all his troubles!" Turn our captivity, and forgive the sins which

have occasioned it.

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