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Deeper Commentary

Psa 25:1 By David- This Psalm is based around the alphabet. But the letters beth and vav are omitted, instead of koph there is resh; and the he section is doubled at the end. This isn't careless construction or corruption, but rather does Hebrew poetry function through such intentional omissions or departures from an expected pattern. 

To You, Yahweh, do I lift up my soul-
There is a repeated Biblical theme that the believer's relationship with the Father too is essentially mutual. David lifts himself up to God (Ps. 25:1; 28:2; 86:4), and asks God to lift up Himself in response (Ps. 7:6; 10:12; 94:2). Lifting up is the language of sacrifice; David sees himself as a priest offering himself.

Psa 25:2 My God, I have trusted in You; don’t let me be shamed-
Typical of men of his time, David seems to fear shame more than death itself. Defeat meant shame, and he desperately begged not to be shamed. Perhaps it was the function of his failure with Bathsheba to help him redefine the motives for his trust in God.


Don’t let my enemies triumph over me- These are the words of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1). David had the humility to be influenced by a woman's words, something unusual for males of his time.

Psa 25:3 Truly, no one who waits for You shall be shamed. They shall be shamed who deal treacherously without cause-
As noted on :2, David had to be taught that those who wait upon / serve God can be shamed, by their sins. And it was David who dealt with Uriah treacherously without cause. 

Psa 25:4 Show me Your ways, Yahweh, teach me Your paths-
Seeing David had access to the existing scriptures, as Ps. 119 shows, this indicates that David believed that God could show him His ways in a way other than simply reading the text of the Bible. Just as is true today, and as is often mentioned in Ps. 119, God is willing to operate directly on the hearts of men in a way over and above His written word. David realized this, and asked to be taught and shown God's ways (Ps. 25:4; 143:8). "Show" is the usual word for 'to know'. Knowledge in its ultimate, spiritual sense is not attained simply by reading or hearing the text of the Bible; not that I am at all decrying that. But there is a higher, Divine hand at work in making us know Divine knowledge. Moses had prayed the same words in Ex. 33:13: "Show me [make me to know] Your way, that I may know [s.w. "show"] You [and] find grace in Your sight". The gift of knowledge, in the Hebraic sense of relationship, is related to God's grace. That knowledge which is in view is not the same as technical, theological knowledge. Moses' prayer was answered; the same words are used in saying that God "made known His ways to Moses" (Ps. 103:7). 

Psa 25:5 Guide me in Your truth, and teach me-
As noted on :4, the desire for guidance or being led suggests that there is a higher power available, beyond a man engaging alone with God's word and seeking to obey it in his own strength. The idea is beyond that of guidance; the same word is translated "make me to go in the path of Your commandments" (Ps. 119:35). It is the word used for a bow being bent; the idea is of God's hand directly and forcefully acting upon a willing human mind. The idea of the gift of the Holy Spirit is the New Testament equivalent of this.


For You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long- David wanted to be guided because he knew that the end point of the path was "my salvation". His 'waiting' can be understood as an idiom for 'serving', or a waiting for salvation to be revealed in his lifetime.

Psa 25:6 Yahweh, remember Your tender mercies and Your grace, for they are from old times-
Mercy and grace often refer to the Abrahamic covenant, made in "old times". David perceived God's entire path with His people as being of "tender mercies", whereas the skeptic will not see His path in history that way.

Psa 25:7 Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions-
It should be noted that the sin of adultery is not highlighted in Nathan's rebuke of David, but rather that David had "killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife". This is twice emphasized in 2 Sam. 12:9,10. This is not to say that the sin of weakness, of the moment, was irrelevant in God's sight. But the emphasis on how he had taken Bathsheba as his wife hints that this had been his long term intention, further suggesting that his sin with her was the end result of much prior meditation. This further illuminates the way in which David speaks of his sin with Bathsheba as if it comprised a whole multitude of other sins: "I acknowledged my sin (singular) unto thee... I said, I will confess my transgressions (plural)" (Ps. 32:5 cp. 38:3,4,18). Ps. 25:7 also occurs in a  Bathsheba context: "Remember not the sins of my youth..."; as if facing up to his sin with Bathsheba made David face up to sins of years ago, possibly also in a sexual context.

Remember me according to Your grace, for Your goodness’ sake, Yahweh- "Remember me" carries the connotation of 'remember me for good and therefore forgive me at the judgment' in Jud. 16:28; Lk. 23:46.


Psa 25:8 Good and upright is Yahweh, therefore He will instruct sinners in the way-
David felt that his sin and its forgiveness was a time of instruction for him, and he vows to in turn teach sinners God's way (Ps. 32:1 etc.). God wishes to manifest Himself through our witness; He wants to use each one of us as a witness to Himself. Rev. 12:11 may imply that our testimony to others is proportionate to our victory against the devil. Preaching is therefore an expression of basic righteousness. God teaches sinners His ways because He is essentially good (Ps. 25:8); and if we are righteous, we will manifest Him in this.

Psa 25:9 He will guide the humble in justice; He will teach the humble His way-
To receive the guidance and teaching discussed on :4,5, we must be humble, as the clay must be soft to be worked by the Divine hand. Comparing with the context of :8, David parallels “the meek” and the repentant sinner (:8,9). The publican was so worried about his own position before God that he paid no attention, so we sense, to the hypocritical brother next to him: “The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner…this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for …he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14). That sin-conscious man is an essay in self-humbling.


Psa 25:10 All the ways of Yahweh are grace and truth to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies-
"Grace and truth" is a term associated with the promises to Abraham, which formed the new covenant. If that covenant was kept, then God would lead those within it- in grace and truth. See on :13.

Psa 25:11 For Your name’s sake, Yahweh, pardon my iniquity, for it is great-
See on Ex. 32:32. David, realizing he was seen by God as a representative of his people, prayed for forgiveness in that he realized that he was thereby a pattern for all the wayward people of God. “For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great” is an undoubted reference to Moses praying for Israel’s forgiveness relating to the golden calf (Ex. 32:30,31). He saw himself as both Moses in prayer and also guilty Israel. He saw Bathsheba had been his golden calf idol, mixing as it had done sexual abandon with an appearance of Yahweh worship. There was nobody to pray for him apart from himself. He saw himself as all Israel, savable only by pure grace and the sincere prayer of a mediator- even if the mediator himself was guilty. God's Name is His character and personality (Ex. 34:5-7), and integral to that is His desire to forgive.

Psa 25:12 What man is he who fears Yahweh? He shall instruct him in the way that he shall choose-
The man who fears Yahweh is the repentant, humbled sinner who is open to instruction (:8,9). This is the man who fears Yahweh and His judgments in a way they should be feared. The Father opens up new ways of understanding for us each, of His choosing and according to our individual needs, in response to our living a God-fearing life. If our hearts are knit together in brotherly love, the more we will understand- for true understanding is, in the end, to fathom the depths of God’s love (Col. 2:2).

Psa 25:13 His soul shall dwell at ease, His descendants shall inherit the land-
David here appropriates the promises to Abraham to himself (see on :10). He saw the outcome of the promised blessing as peace with God, knowing that we have been forgiven (:8,10). And this is how the New Testament interprets the Abrahamic blessing (Acts 3:25,26). 

Psa 25:14 The friendship of Yahweh is with those who fear Him; He will show them His covenant-
"Friendship" is better "secret" or "council". What is so awesome is that the Hebrew word sod, 'council' or 'court', is something open to us as mortals. In Biblical times, Kings had their sod, their gathering of intimate advisors and ministers. But we, mere mortals on earth, are invited to be part of the sod of God Almighty, having His purpose and plans revealed to us (Ps. 25:14; Job 29:4). But sod members weren't passive listeners; they gave their advice and requests, and the King factored that into His decision making. This is a picture of the power of prayer from those who have understood the way and essence of the King of Heaven.

God’s doctrines are described as a secret, a mystery; the Hebrew word used in this connection means ‘A confidential plan revealed to intimate friends’; and yet they are revealed to the true believers (Am. 3:7-8; Jer. 23: 18,22 AV mg.; Ps. 25:14; Eph. 3:3-6). Therefore the congregation of true believers is called “the secret assembly of the saints”(Ps. 89:7 Heb.). There are many Bibles around, but God’s doctrines are to some extent a secret, and not understood by many of those who possess and read the Bible. It therefore follows that the Bible must be written in such a way as to conceal Truth from the majority of readers.


Psa 25:15 My eyes are ever on Yahweh, for He will pluck my feet out of the net-
The metaphor suggests that instead of looking carefully at his feet to ensure he didn't step into a net or trap, David's eyes instead were looking upwards to Yahweh. See on Ps. 26:3.

Psa 25:16 Turn to me-
The phrase used of God having respect to those in covenant with Him (Lev. 26:9); the theme of covenant relationship is clearly in David's mind (:10,13,14).

And have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted- This would be appropriate to how David felt when ill and politically isolated after his sin with Bathsheba.

Psa 25:17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged. Oh bring me out of my distresses!-
These troubles of the heart surely refer to his feelings at the time after the sin with Bathsheba. David's mind was on how Jacob and Joseph had been rescued from their "troubles" (s.w. Gen. 35:3; 42:21). Such "troubles" come to those who break covenant (Dt. 31:17,21), and David is asking for covenant relationship to be restored (:10,13,14,16).

Psa 25:18 Consider my affliction and my travail, forgive all my sins-
David perceived that his affliction was a result of his sins; yet he saw it as "travail", pregnant with the hope of restored relationship with God and a new birth to a new life with Him.


Psa 25:19 Consider my enemies, for they are many; they hate me with total hatred-
The sin with Bathsheba led to David having enemies, within his own family, and also within Bathsheba's family. For Ahithophel David's counsellor was her grandfather.

Psa 25:20 Oh keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be disappointed, for I take refuge in You-
"Disappointed" is s.w. "ashamed" in :2. Typical of men of his time, David seems to fear shame more than death itself. Defeat meant shame, and he desperately begged not to be shamed. Perhaps it was the function of his failure with Bathsheba to help him redefine the motives for his trust in God.

Psa 25:21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You-
If David means that his own previous integrity and uprightness should preserve him, then he was arguing for salvation by works. And if he intended to from then on promise integrity, then he also failed in that. He still hasn't come to a total casting of himself upon God's grace. “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” was surely a collapse of faith and "uprightness" (1 Sam. 27:1). And it led to the way in which David deceived Achish by pretending he was attacking Jewish towns, when in fact he was going out and attacking the Amalekite settlements, killing all men, women and children in them so that nobody was left alive to tell that it was David who had attacked them (1 Sam. 27:8-10). Innocent people were slain by David’s sword for the ‘political’ reason that he had to keep Achish ‘in the dark’ about what he was really up to. And so in case a 5 year old say something incriminating later, David simply killed the little boy. Indeed, when Achish later says that David would be best not to go with him to fight Saul, David hypocritically says: “But what have I done? And what have you found in your servant so long as I have been with you unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies [i.e. Saul] of my lord the king?” (1 Sam. 29:8). This was hardly an example of the “integrity” and “uprightness” which David glorifies in his Psalms, and which he insisted he was full of (Ps. 25:21). Indeed he claims that his integrity is the basis of his acceptance by God (Ps. 26:1).


Psa 25:22 Redeem Israel, God, out all of His troubles
- David parallels his own afflictions and need for forgiveness with Israel’s need for redemption (Ps. 25:18,22); or how the saving strength of Yahweh’s anointed (i.e. David) was to be Israel’s saving strength likewise (Ps. 28:8,9). This is why his Psalms were reused in later historical contexts within Israel. The feelings and pulse of David are expressed at more length than those of any other Bible character; and therefore in these we are to see something of the Lord we follow. It is significant that David is seen as the representative of Israel, just as was and is the Lord- hence, e.g., the confusion between “the city of Judah” and “the city of David” (2 Kings 14:20 cp. 2 Chron. 25:28 AVmg.). But this is an alphabetical Psalm, the :21 was already the last letter of the alphabet, and it is now repeated. This could imply that this verse was added later, under inspiration, because it was so well perceived that David was a patter for all God's subsequent people.