Guilt and shame have their proper work in our lives yet they can be great obstacles to overcome. Guilt is good to experience and a must if repentance is to occur; however, some let it drown them in shame and never move on it (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-7).
A Study of Psalms 25
The meek know and love the laws of God yet at times they violate those same laws through lust, vain glory, or individual pride (1 John 2:15-16). Mental anguish, in the form of guilt and shame, are the consequences when our profession of faith does not mesh with our words and actions. We are often bothered by our personal sin beyond our ability to explain. The meek do not feel worthy of the blessings of this life that God grants. The meek do not feel worthy of God’s mercy and help. Yet, we know that we must ask of him. We know that we must seek his favor. At a moment of great guilt and despair, we take a deep breath, and bow our heads to the heavenly father and with all the humility that we can muster up we say, “Lord, forgive me for this my wickedness… Lord comfort me at this time of my affliction… Lord help me through this situation.”
David, once again, is assailed by enemies and contemplates help from the Lord. It is difficult; however, for the king to make such demands or request to the Lord knowing that he has lived a life of “great” sin (Psalms 25:11). The Psalm before us depicts David’s meek disposition toward life and God. David was a man of like passions like you and I (James 5:17). David needed help from his enemies yet felt that he was unworthy of such help due to his “great sin.” It takes David 11 verses to finally ask God to forgive him of his error. We are not told what the sin under consideration is; however, we know and feel empathy for the king because we have all been in the same situation. It is difficult and embarrassing to bow our head and confess our sin to God but we must do so (1 John 1:8-10). David knew that there was no other option. As embarrassing and shameful it is to confess our faults before God we do so knowing that he already knows and that he is willing to forgive.
“1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul” (25:1)
This beautiful Psalm begins by David praying to God and in effect saying, “I bow my head before you Lord and offer up the thoughts of my most inner being to you.” Others may have viewed David with great respect as a man of integrity, war, and faith in God yet David knew that God saw all his shameful inward sin just as he saw all his outward acts of righteousness.
“2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me” (25:2).
The first 25 Psalms repeatedly identify and illustrate David’s true trust in God. David turned to God and no other during the darkest days of his tribulation. The King earlier said, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me around about. Arise, O Jehovah; save me, O my God:” (Psalms 3:6-7). God’s true people of every generation share in this wonderful and comforting trust in God. Isaiah writes, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid: for Jehovah, even Jehovah, is my strength and song; and he is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
The only way that David would be “put to shame” is if God did not help him while he put such great trust in him. Why was David concerned about this? The king obviously needs help from his enemies yet he is fearful that God would not give the needed aid. The verse before us suggests that something is not right. Why would David be concerned about his enemies “exulting” over him?
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Nathan said, “You have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14). Throughout God’s people’s history they performed acts that brought God’s wrath upon them and often times the world perceived this as weakness on the part of God. God would not save the wicked so those of the world concluded that he does not hear and neither does he have the power to save.
David’s “enemies” are, once again, the object of this Psalm like so many before this one. The Psalm before us contemplates the need of an unworthy servant for divine help. Though the petitioner is unworthy he nonetheless must ask for there is no other to turn to and no other to hope in.
“3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous” (25:3).
The concept of “waiting” upon God is a popular one with the prophet Isaiah. The prophet of God writes, “They that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The final words of the book of Daniel illustrate God’s will for man to wait for his promised blessings in faithful obedience. Daniel writes, “Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty five days” (Daniel 12:12). People must live in faith and obedience while waiting for God’s blessings (Revelation 2:10). There is no other viable choice. There is no other to trust and put one’s confidence in (see John 6:66-69).
David knows that those who “wait” in faith will not be “put to shame.” David’s prayer is that he would not be put to shame in that God does not rescue him from his enemies. David has put his trust in God and he has faithfully waited yet there were times when his faithful obedience stumbled in sinful behavior and thoughts.
No one ever said the waiting is easy. The waiting is the time between man’s great affliction and an answer or actual help from God. The waiting is living life in faithful obedience and hope that one day God will fulfill his promises. At one point, David writes, “I am weary with my crying; my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Psalms 69:3). No matter how trying the circumstance there is no other real option than to continue to wait. It is during these hours of waiting that God is putting us to the test (James 1:3 and 1 Peter 4:12). Will we faithfully wait for his promises in trust, confidence, and obedience or will we give in to the affliction that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1)? Those who refuse, through weakness of the flesh, to wait for God’s promises will surely be put to shame.
There is a difficult fact of life that is hard to swallow by those who love the Lord. We all sin from time to time (Romans 3:23). The very God and laws we love are treated as nonexistent at a moment faced with pleasure, lust, pride, and or personal glory. The meek see their error and are greatly ashamed. Will we fold up in self pity and pine away in guilt or will we humbly confess our faults before our loving and forgiving heavenly Father?
“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” (25:4-5).
The meek and lowly of this earth wait upon the Lord no matter how difficult the days are. Their true desire is to “know” the ways and paths of God. The meek are teachable and desire to be guided in the paths of righteousness (see Psalms 23:3). The meek wait on God, trust in God, and desire to be guided in the ways of truth because they know that they do not have the authority to direct their own paths (see Jeremiah 10:23). Those who faithfully and meekly wait on Jehovah God will not spend their time seeking out their own personal agendas of opinion, personal conviction, and conscience but will train their minds in truth. David waits all day for God’s help yet he knows, within the deep recesses of his heart, that his waiting has not always been what it should have been.
“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!” (25:6-7).
God too has time while man waits for his promised blessings. While the meek and lowly wait in patience, faithfulness, and spiritual growth God sees all (see Jeremiah 23:23). The meek man and woman know this. God sees every sin that I have ever committed. The natural prayer is that God would forget these terrible things I have done against him and remember his mercy and love.
While David contemplates the help he needs from the Lord he knows that he is unworthy of such aid. David’s sins could not be hid from the all seeing eyes of Jehovah God and he knew it. What had been done was done and there was no changing it. We may all feel this same since of stinging guilt. We need God’s mercy, favor, and blessings yet that which stands between us and God’s favor is our sin.
“8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble (meek – 1901 ASV) 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” (25:8-10).
The meek are led in paths of righteousness because they have the mind of a child in relationship to an approach to life and truth. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, except you turn, and become as little children, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3) (# Meek). David’s meek and lowly spirit has surfaced over and over in this study of the book of Psalms. Perhaps the one statement that stands above the rest is found at Psalms 7:3-5. David writes, “3 O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is iniquity in my hands, 4 if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, 5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah.” David acknowledges God’s desired personality in man to be that of a meek and lowly spirit of subjection and dependence upon his holiness.
“11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt (iniquity or sin – 1901 ASV), for it is great” (25:11).
Ten verses of prayer have been spoken by the king before this most important statement is made. We are not always like the tax collector of Luke 18:13 who meekly beat his breast in shame proclaiming, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” Sometimes it is difficult to just come right out and confess to God that we have sinned. Sometimes our prayers appear to reason out the issue because we are ashamed and embarrassed of our sin yet eventually we must come to this statement.
David prays that God would forgive him of his sin so that his holy name would not be blasphemed among the wicked. David knows that the Lord would not help the un-repenting sinner who will not wait upon God’s promises. David is meek and lowly and desires to be helped by God. David waits and the world watches. David desires God’s pardon and help not only to be forgiven but also that the world would know that God saves his elect.
Again, the very thing standing between David and God was the king’s guilt regarding his “great” sin. What filthiness was under consideration here? What heinous crime against the laws of Jehovah God had David committed? What disgusting thoughts had the king contemplated to have such “great” guilt? We are not told, on this occasion; however, we do know that David’s sins were no greater that our own sins. All who put their trust in God, while waiting for his blessings, feel this same sting of great guilt. We are tested and tried and we fail at times. We feel, as did the Apostle Paul, as wretched human beings before the Almighty God (see Romans 7:24). When the very God and laws we love are transgressed it causes us great duress, guilt, and embarrassment and such is the power of God’s word (see Hebrews 4:12).
“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” (25:12-14).
David has successfully defined what it means to “fear the Lord.” Those who fear the Lord are those who wait patiently for God’s promised help and aid though life throws great tribulation their way. Those who fear God are the meek and lowly who put God’s laws and paths before their own personal opinions, convictions, and consciences. Those who fear God can be taught because they do not consider themselves higher than they ought to (see Proverbs 1:7).
Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Proverbs 8:13). Again, the wise king writes, “Fear God and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). No man in his right mind would dare not fear Jehovah God (2 Peter 2:10-12). Ezekiel chapter one portrays the glory of Jehovah God as he sits upon this throne. The object of the chapter is to strike reverential fear into the minds of the Jews so that they would repent of their sins against the Almighty. David recognizes God for who he is and trembles at the thought that he has transgressed his holy laws. Those who will acknowledge their guilt of violating divine law and seek to humbly serve God in obedience are depicted as God’s friends (see James 2:23).
“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” (25:15-16).
David’s eyes always looked heavenward in hope. David waited in faith and confidence in God. The king knew that God would provide and save him from the net of his enemies (Psalms 25:2). Yet that which hung in the back of his mind was his great guilt due to sin. Would the Lord save me though I have committed such gross atrocities against his holy laws? David knew that God would. Nonetheless, the king’s sins bothered him because he was a man of integrity and solid character.
David said what he meant and was good for his word. Though there is so much integrity and respect among others we know, deep within, that God sees what others do not see. God sees the secrets of our hearts and inner most thoughts. Again, we have no choice but to call out to God. To be overwhelmed in guilt and give up would solve nothing. To be overwhelmed in guilt would be to give in to sin and death. The best course of action is to humble ourselves before the Lord, confess our faults, and beg for his mercy that we might be given another chance to prove that our waiting is truthful. Though our desire is to pass the test of God, while waiting for his blessing, we often fail.
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” (25:17-18).
The troubles, distress, and affliction of David’s heart are not due to his enemies alone. David’s troubled heart was caused by his own personal sin. It bothered David, beyond words to explain, to know that he failed at times of temptation and tribulation. David, like the meek of all generations, loves truth and righteousness yet at times he found himself doing the very sinful things he hated (see Romans 7:14-23). David was so concerned and bothered by sin that he prayed that God would forgive him of even the sins he was not aware that he committed (see Psalms 19:12). David knew that God hates sin and so he too hated it (Romans 12:9). Herein lays the great dilemma of the Christian. We often practice the very thing that God hates and that we trained our minds to hate. There is nothing but guilt that remains after such an event. Guilt is good! Guilt moves us to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). The blood of Christ has the power to remove that guilt of sin (Hebrews 9:14).
“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” (25:19-21).
David, once again, gets back to his great dilemma. The king has many enemies and he needs help from God. The king; however, did not feel worthy of divine help due to his great guilt because of the sins he committed. What should he do? Should he be too embarrassed or ashamed of himself to turn to God? Absolutely not! We turn to God in great shame and confess our sins to him and continue our purposeful wait like David. Remember, David “purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalms 17:3). We best pass God’s test in life when we humbly confess our faults and meekly seek his divine favor. After picking ourselves up from the filth of our shameful behavior we purpose to do better in the coming days of life. No matter what our sins have been we must remember that there is no other to hope and trust in than God (see Acts 4:10-12). There will come a day when Satan shall be cast into the everlasting fires of hell never to bother us again (see Revelation 20:10).
“22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles” (25:22).
David illustrates his grand character in that he closes the prayer with thoughts about others. David knew that if he had these struggles of unworthiness in his mind then others surely did too. David’s final words are that all the meek of the earth would continue to hope and wait on God even though they felt unworthy of his blessings.
The Apostle Paul made a similar statement toward the end of his life. Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul also said, “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). Keep trying; keep picking yourself up, keep confessing your faults to God, and keep on keeping on until that great day!