Psalm 25 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
My name is Grant Bostrom I am a member here at Grace Church and I feel blessed this morning to be bringing God’s word to you this morning.
I am going to argue that the main point of this Psalm is : Waiting for the Lord preserves us and postures us to bring him the most glory in our present situation.
To unpack this a little further I believe this Psalm models for us how to wait on the Lord during times of struggle both from external and internal battles with sin.
If you read news and notes, I asked these questions in the sermon excerpt. These are rhetorical, “How many of us love to wait? How many times have we asked out kids to be patient? If we asked the people around us would they characterize our posture as patient? Does your ability or desire to be patient change with the circumstances? For example, how patient would you be in the presence of your enemies? David in this Psalm teaches and models for us how to glorify God as we wait for him even in the most dangerous of circumstances.
Before we dive into this Psalm, I think it would be helpful to place this Psalm in its historical and literary context.
This may not be new for some of you but the Hebrew bible, our Old Testament, was organized in 3 large sections called the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The book of Psalms fell into “The Writing” section of the Old Testament. One of my professors re-titled these three sections of the Hebrew Cannon as the Old Covenant “Established” in reference to the Law, the Old covenant “enforced” in referencing the Prophets and the Old Covenant “enjoyed” in reference to the Writings. These are certainly broad-brush strokes as they refer to very large chunks of scripture, but I believe they help us rightly interpret the passages and books that are found in each of these Old Testament sections.
The book of the Psalms fits into the “Writings” section of the Hebrew Canon, or as we will also see the Psalms rightly display how the Old Covenant was to be enjoyed by God’s people. The “Writings” section in the Hebrew Cannon help us navigate redemptive history through the hearts, minds, and actions of God’s redeemed people.
If we have spent anytime in Numbers, or Judges, or 1-2 Kings we learn very quickly that sin was pervasive not just throughout the nations that surrounded Israel but even in the midst of Israel. Most of us probably think of King David when we think about the book of the Psalms and this is not wrong to some degree, but we also must not miss that the Psalms are a collection of songs, poems, prayers, laments from throughout Israel’s history. For example, Psalm 90 is a Psalm written from the time of Moses or Psalm 107 which reflect on the return from exile potentially written during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
But what is probably most important for us to know about the Psalms is how the stage is set for the rest of the book in Psalm 1 and 2. Psalm 1 holds up the Law of the Lord and the blessing that it brings those that meditate and delight in it. Psalm 1 builds a connection between God’s law, man’s happiness, and the promise of everlasting life for those that keep it.
It is also in Psalm 2 that we learn of God’s anointed King that will possess the nations and all earthly powers will be subjected to God’s anointed King and the security that is promised for those that take refuge in him.
The first 2 Psalms are like lenses that we should see the rest of the Psalms through. God’s righteous law and his Righteous rule through his anointed King.
The Psalms, unlike narratives, or prophecy, or genealogies, or letters, provide us with the right language, theology, and response to a curse filled world. The Psalms help us feel rightly about how God is working in our hearts and in this world. The Psalms give us right language to use when approaching God and how to better express our thoughts and emotions to God.
Music and poetry have a unique way of describing and unpacking the many layers to our thoughts and emotions. They do this by using metaphors, illustrations, storytelling, and many other literary devices to help articulate feelings, emotions, that flow out of all the different events and seasons that our hearts and minds go through as Christians.
The book of the Psalms gives us inspired and God glorifying ways to express our heart to God in very raw and real ways that we can hold onto during all the highs and lows that this life will have. What a gracious and glorious God we serve that would give his people the right words and the right away to approach Him when we are struggling with sin, or with the sins that have been committed against us, or the overflowing joy that comes from obedience, or his deliverance.
God does not just want us to think rightly about him he wants us to feel rightly about him and the Psalms help us do that.
The rest of this sermon is going to be organized around the 7 promises that I see in this Psalm. But I think it would first be helpful for us to see the overall structure of this Psalm first.
The first 7 verses are David’s prayer of Lament to God concerning his current situation. It is then in verses 8-14 that the languages changes from God being referenced in the second person to God in the 3rd person.
Notice that David addresses his prayer to God using “you” and “your” but then in verse 8 the language changes to “he” and “him” and “the LORD.” Then in verse 16 the language moves back to a 1st person reference to David as he expresses his current experience of trouble and distress and how he would like the Lord to respond to his current situation.
I see 3 sections to this Psalm. The first section, verses 1-7, are David’s prayer for deliverance. Then verses 8-14 we have David worshipping God for who he is, and then in verses 15-22 David returns to this prayer for deliverance.
It was at this point in my sermon prep that I needed to make a decision. Do I work through the Psalm like I would one of Paul’s letters, verse by verse, thought by thought, or try to maintain the emotion and the voice of the text by working through the text with a particular focus on the promises that I see David resting in during his time of distress?
To some degree I might be accomplishing both, but I would like to walk through this text and hold up the 7 promises I see in this Psalm and show how these promises preserve and posture us to bring God the most glory in the midst of our own present situations of distress.
My hope in presenting the 7 promises I see in this Psalm is that we hold on to each one of them when we encounter trouble, distress, and sin in our own lives. For some here you have had to work through some really hard things in life already, for others you have really hard things you are working through right now and then for others you have not known many troubles, but when you do these promises will keep you.
The first promise I see in Psalm 25 is in verse 3: “None who wait for the Lord shall be put to shame”.
We don’t precisely know at what point in David’s life he wrote this Psalm, was it when he was being pursued by Saul, who had become jealous of David. Or when he was later pursued by his own son who desires to take the Kingdom from him and Solomon? All we know is that David knows he has enemies and the threat of harm is real from David’s perspective.
David’s soul is downcast, his enemies are close, and he needs hope. David turns his heart towards God and asks that the Lord not let his enemies exult over him and the promise that he is holding on to first is that “none who wait (for the Lord) shall be put to shame.” Maybe one example where we see this promise upheld in the life of David is when David was fleeing from Saul and while David and his men were hiding in a cave David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he was compelled to not kill Saul because of the LORDS command ”to not put out a hand against the Lord’s anointed.”
David had an opportunity to take matters into his own hands and bring an end to the man that was pursuing him, not only this it, but wouldn’t David had been justified for taking Saul’s life as just a few chapter earlier David had been anointed King as God had rejected Saul?
Yet David obeyed God’s command to not lay a hand on God’s anointed and he trusted and waited for the Lord to make things right.
How many of us when we are in trouble or in distress attempt to take things into our own hands? How many of us turn to our own resources and wisdom to bring resolution to our current struggles? How many of us turn our hearts first to the Lord and wait for his guidance?
May we trust in the Lord in the midst of our troubles and wait for him to respond. Vengeances is mine say the Lord. We have this promise to hold onto, “none who wait on the Lord shall be put to shame” hear that Christian, NONE who wait for the Lord will be put to shame.
Look now at the second promise in this Psalm, verse 9, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” Notice some “posture” language. My main point this morning is that: Waiting for the Lord preserves us and postures us to bring him the most glory in our present situation.
Our posture while we are waiting for the Lord ought to be humility. Is this our tendency? As we face trouble and distress do we remain humble? Do we turn to our own strength, or our own gifts, or our own resources, or our own wisdom when we are struggling with an enemy, or a relationship, or the loss of a job? If I may speak concerning my own heart, at times I find it tough to be humble in the midst of conflict and I tend to get impatient desiring for resolution.
I must turn my heart to the Lord, trust in his timing and his resolution and humble myself under his mighty hand. In verse 8 we see that the Lord is good and upright, if we are seeing our hearts rightly in light of a good and upright God we are forced to humble ourselves before God.
The posture of one waiting for the Lord is humility. When we humble ourselves before God his goodness and uprightness are more clearly seen in our situation and God gets the glory when he fulfills his promises to us. I might add, God does not just get the glory from us when we praise him for his faithfulness, but he gets glory from displaying his righteousness against the unrighteous who have positioned themselves against God and his people.
The 3rd promise is in verse 10, “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness” did you hear that? ALL the paths of the Lord are steadfast and faithfulness. When you soul is downcast because of the distress you are in are you trusting in the LORD’s steadfast Love and faithfulness?
I must admit my heart is not quick to see the Lord’s hand in my troubles. This is why we have Psalms like this to help us know how to pray and respond to the Lord and to our situation in righteousness. I find my heart slipping into a path that would get me out of my trouble. I find myself trying to change directions or change course when trouble comes. The promise we have here is that “all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” Maybe just one more comment, notice, it is not “my paths” it is the Lord’s paths that are steadfast. The “paths” of the Lord could be a sermon itself, but let me say this, if you want to understand the paths of the Lord, soak in the scriptures. Spend time with the people of God, people who have walked with the Lord for a long time.
When you are in distress or there seems to be no end in sight to the present trouble are you able to see God’s steadfast love for you and his faithfulness? We need not look any further than the Cross of Christ. In the darkest hour of human history, namely the murder of the Son of God, God was on the throne orchestrating salvation for all who would believe. The greatest sin in history proved to be God’s very means of salvation. The darkest hour of man’s sin became God’s greatest hour of redemption.
The path to the cross was dark, Jesus was left by his closet friends, rejected by this people, and was denied justice from the governing authorities, yet we read in Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I hope you heard another connection from his verse in Hebrews to our Psalm. The cross was such a shameful way to die that it was forbidden for Roman citizens to be killed this way. It was sin and Satan’s desire to bring shame to Jesus through the cross, yet it was through the cross that sin and Satan are defeated. Just as verse 3 of our Psalm promises. “they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”
Let us now look at the fourth promise of Psalm 25 which is found in verse 12: “The Lord will instruct the man that fears him.” Think through this promise with me. David in this Psalm is praying to the Lord for deliverance from his enemies, but we have David clinging to the promise that “those who fear the Lord will receive instruction.”
David turns his fear of his enemies to fearing God. What a twist. David reminds his heart that fearing God is his only hope for receiving salvation or instruction during his current trouble.
Is this our response? When we are afraid of the people around us or the situation we are in, do we recalibrate our fear? Or does the fear of our present situation overtake what we should really be fearing?
Lets back up a verse for just a minute to verse 11. When our enemy seems to be closing in, or the troubles in our life seem to be growing, do we turn our fear towards God?
Maybe another way for us to think about this biblical logic is this; at any moment in our life should the threat of external sin or sins being committed against us be our greatest fear? I would argue from this text the answer to this question is NO.
Our greatest fear should not be our present circumstances but our position or posture before the Lord. In verse 11 David is reminded of his own sin and asks the Lord to pardon his guilt. We need this Psalm to rightly teach our hearts to respond in the midst of fear to look at who God is and to see our sin for what it is.
David turns his heart to God for forgiveness and repentance even while his enemies are pursing him and wishing to do him harm. What a rebuke this was for my heart as I was preparing this sermon.
When people rise up against me I feel my heart wanting to justify my actions, or my righteousness over theirs. My heart is inclined to rest in my own righteousness for security and not in the reality that I am a sinner just as my enemy is.
Oh how quickly bitterness and anger and self-righteousness leaves our heart when we see our hearts for what they are in light of who God is.
Our posture while we are in distress should be a one of confession and repentance. Our greatest enemy is not out there it is the sin that is still living in us. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
As the enemy creeps towards us may we creep towards God in a posture of repentance and humility because we know that God is steadfast and faithful to instruct the humble and we will not be put to shame.
This brings us to the 5th promise in this Psalm found in verse 13, “His soul shall abide in well-being.” When we fear God above all else, repent from our sin when it is revealed to us, remain humble, turn to the Lord for instruction, our soul will abide in well-being.
Hear this! Even in the midst of great distress and trouble we can hold on to the promise that our soul will be abide in well-being. What a promise this is. Our soul does not need to remain downcast. David prays in verse 1 for his soul to be lifted up. We receive the promise in verse 13 here that our soul shall abide in well-being when we are trusting in the Lord, leaning on his wisdom and instruction, remaining humble and confessing our sin.
Our hearts get heavy and downcast when things don’t go our way, or when other people’s hearts turn against us. But we have this promise in Psalm 25 that our hearts do not need to remain downcast in the midst of trouble we can turn to the Lord and receive the rest our soul needs when we trust in God and his promise of faithfulness and steadfastness no matter what the present situation looks like to us.
I would like to stop here for just a minute. If there is anyone hear that is not fearing the Lord and their soul is not resting in the salvation that is offered in Jesus Christ turn to him now. The promises we have already observed and the promises we have yet to observe in this text are for those that are in covenant relationship with Jesus. We can not hold on to these promises if we are not in covenant with God.
Jesus’ death on the Cross fulfills all of God’s promises and when we are trusting alone in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and him as the only hope of salvation we can hold tightly to the promises found in Psalm 25.
The 6th promise for us in Psalm 25 is found in verse 13: “his offspring shall inherit the land.” You might be saying how is this a promise for the new covenant believer?
Lets first answer who is “his offspring” referring to? I believe “his offspring” refers to the one who fears the Lord and his children. We must not miss the allusion to the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 17. It reads, “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you through their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you, and I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Notice that the covenant that God gives to Abraham in Genesis 17 includes his offspring and land.
As we return to our Psalm God’s promise of Abraham’s offspring inheriting the land is being fulfilled. David himself is resting in the promise that God gave to Abraham thousands of years prior to his reign.
We do see in verse 10 that God shows himself faithful and steadfast in love towards those that keep his covenant and testimonies. God does require obedience from us as we hold on to these promises.
So, how is this promise of our offspring inheriting the land a promise that new covenant believers can hold to?
I would first like to argue how “offspring” in the new covenant is not exclusively a biological relationship. We read in Galatians 3:26-29 that “in Christ you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to Promise.”
Do you see what Paul did here in Galatians? Believers are heirs of Abraham, and heirs of God through faith. It is not through the physical seed of man that are the true offspring of Abraham. True offspring of Abraham and God are determined through faith in Jesus.
Let me say it this way, according to Galatians 3 Jesus is “the offspring” to which God ultimately intended to secure all his blessings in. Therefore, I take this promise to mean that those that are heirs with Christ, those that have faith in Jesus are the true offspring of God.
But what about the Land? In one sense the land should be understood as the place that God’s people inhabit, the place that God meets with his people and the place were God’s rule is established and enjoyed. It is the place were right worship happens.
David is holding on to the promise that his covenant faithfulness will prove an inheritance for his offspring, so also in the New Covenant Jesus’ faithfulness secured our inheritance in Heaven. So, the “land promise” was secured once Christ came, and Jesus inaugurated the new covenant and the “new land” promise for those trusting in Christ which is the “new heavens and the new earth” that is coming in Revelation 21.
The promised offspring to Abraham and David that would sit on the throne forever is Christ and it is through Christ that God has given him all things. At the end of time Jesus will return and usher in the new heavens and the new earth such that we will inherit the land that Christ purchased by his blood and brought us all into through his death and resurrection.
Let us return to Psalm 25 for the final promise that David is clinging to. Verse 14: The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him and he makes known to them his covenant.
When we fear the Lord we are promised the Lord’s friendship. Put yourself in David’s shoes, put yourself in a dangerous situation, what would bring relief, what would help your anxiety or depression in the midst of such great trouble? How about an ally? How about a friend?
What a glorious promise this is. That God would reach out in friendship as we are going through a great struggle. What makes this promise even more comforting is that this is not just a friend that is going to listen and sit with you but is unable to make any changes to the situation, this is a friend that created the universe and spoke everything into being, that put to death the Egyptian army without the Israelites lifting a finger or destroying the walls of Jericho with the blast of trumpets.
This is no ordinary friendship; this is a friendship with the creator and sustainer of all things. Waiting for the Lord preserves us and postures us to bring him the most glory in our present situation.
According to this Psalm and these promises we are called to wait on the Lord in humility, fear, covenant faithfulness, and confession. When the sins of this world encroach upon us and our posture looks like humility, fear of God, obedience, and confession we make God look glorious because we are unshakable. More than this, we display God as the unshakable, sustainer of our lives and souls.
When we fear God over man we display his demands on our life and the value we place on pleasing him over against the rulers and authorities of this earth. When we confess our sins, we recognize that our greatest need is not physical deliverance but spiritual deliverance. This minimizes the control that the threats of man can have on our hearts and we are free to love and obey God above all else.
Notice in verse 21 that integrity and uprightness in the midst of trouble preserve us as we wait for God. The call this morning for us from Psalm 25 is to seek the Lord in the midst of trouble, trust in his covenantal promises and his faithfulness, and he will instruct us in the way that we should go as we enjoy his friendship along the paths that he leads us and embrace the inheritance that is ours in Christ Jesus which will be fully enjoyed in the new heavens and the new earth.