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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 25

Verse 1

Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

Psalms 25:1-22.-Prayer for deliverance from enemies, grounded on God's faithfulness to His trusting people (Psalms 25:1-5); appeal to God to remember not sins, but His own mercies (Psalms 25:6-7); the spirit required in those to whom God grants guidance and mercy-namely, meekness and observance of His covenant (Psalms 25:8-10); as David has not kept it, he cries to Yahweh for His own name's sake to forgive his great iniquity (Psalms 25:11); Yahweh blesses those who fear Him, and reveals to them His covenant (Psalms 25:12-14) again David urges the greatness of his troubles, requiring (as in Psalms 25:1-5), that God should not confound His trusting people (Psalms 25:15-21); concluding identification of his Israel's (Psalms 25:22). The alphabetical acrostic arrangement gives symmetrical form to psalms loosely connected in structure.

['aleph (')]

I lift up my soul. The perfection of prayer is its being a lifting up of the soul to God. We are for the time raised above self and the world, and "sit together (with Christ) in heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6). The idea is included of setting the whole heart on God as the chief good, and the source of every good. Compare margin, Deuteronomy 24:15.

[beth (b)]

Verse 2

O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

I trust in thee - and in none besides; answering to "I lift up my soul unto thee" (Psalms 25:1).

Let me not be ashamed - as if I were one deserving to be put to shame as not trusting in thee-a hypocrite and a worldling.

[gimel (g)]

Verse 3

Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Let none ... be ashamed - a prayer based on a fundamental principle of God a dealings. He has common cause with all that wait, on the Lord; such cannot consistently with God's honour be put to shame. The Chaldaic, Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac translate as futures, 'all that wait on thee shall not be ashamed;' thus David lays down the general principle on which he founds the confidence of his particular prayer.

Which transgress without cause - namely, mine enemies (Psalms 25:2). The Hebrew for "transgress" (ha-bogedim) is to deal treacherously. The treacherous transgression meant is that against one's neighbour, All the Israelites were, as all professing Christians are now, joined together in the brotherly covenant. To be even wanting in the love to our neighbour which is enjoined, is a treacherous transgression. Compare Psalms 41:9; Hosea 6:7. "Without cause" (reequ) - literally, 'empty' (Psalms 69:4), 'without provocation.'

[daleth (d)] [daleth (d)]

Verse 4

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.

Show me thy ways - namely, the ways of "salvation" from all dangers and temptations. David has in mind the prayer of Moses (Exodus 33:13).

Teach me - by thy Spirit.

[he (h)]

Verse 5

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Lead me in thy truth - Lead me, so as that I may experience thy faithfulness to thy promises (John 17:17). So the phrased, 'the truth of God,' means in Psalms 30:9; Psalms 71:22. "Lead me," as a father would his infant child when making the first attempt to walk (Hosea 11:3; Deuteronomy 1:31-32; Deuteronomy 10:12).

[zayin (z)]

Verse 6

Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

Thy tender mercies - Hebrew, 'thy bowels' (Colossians 3:12).

And thy loving-kindnesses. God cannot renounce His own essential loving-kindness (especially to His trusting children, such as the Psalmist). His character is not a newly acquired one, but has existed 'from eternity' (Psalms 103:17). David pleads. Thou canst not now for the first time cease to be what thou hast always been.

[cheth (ch)]

Verse 7

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.

Remember not the sins of my youth - a necessary consequence of the previous "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies" (Psalms 25:6); because God 'remembers,' and can never forget, His eternally gracious character. Therefore, He 'remembers not the sins,' nor even the aggravated "transgressions," of His people, who cast themselves on 'His tender mercies.' In "youth," especially, the passions are strong (2 Timothy 2:22).

According to thy mercy remember thou me. The Hebrew ( checed (H2617)) for "mercy" is translated "loving-kindness," Psalms 25:6 Translate it so here.

[Teth (T)]

Verse 8

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Good - benignant (cf. "thy goodness," Psalms 25:7).

Upright is the Lord. Based on Deuteronomy 32:4. "Upright" implies that God's character accords with the most perfect role of right (unlike the pagan idea of deity); "therefore" He cannot but be faithful to His promises (Psalms 25:5-6); and teach His people the right way of salvation (Psalms 32:8). But it is such "sinners" ( chaTaa'iym (H2400)) as do not persevere in sin, but flee to the grace of God for pardon; not hardened transgressors ( pesha`iym (H6588)), nor those persisting in daring impiety (resha`iym).

[yodh (y)]

Verse 9

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

The meek ... The repetition of "the meek" implies emphatically who alone are the "sinners" (Psalms 25:8) whom God saves-namely, those humbled and saddened on account of their sins. 'He guides them in judgment' or 'righteousness,' justifying them in the face of their enemies-both Satan, their invisible adversary, and all who visibly oppose them (Zechariah 3:1-5). 'He teaches them His way;' the way whereby He orders their deliverance from their enemies (Psalms 25:4; Jeremiah 10:23; Acts 8:31; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

[kaph (k)]

Verse 10

All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

The paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. Sins of infirmity, such as still beset penitent "sinners," do not exclude from the continued benefits of the covenant, when we confess and seek forgiveness for them in the appointed way, and forsake them. Therefore, in Psalms 25:11, the Psalmist hastens to confess his sins. Those "keep His convenant" who believe His promises and keep His commandments-who remember both what God has promised to them, and what they have promised to God (Hosea 14:9).

[lamedh (l)]

Verse 11

For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.

For thy name's sake (note, Psalms 23:3) - For the sake of thy manifested character. God's attributes, to which David refers, are given in Psalms 25:7-10, goodness, uprightness, mercy, and truth.

For it is great. The very greatness of my sin creates the greater need for thy mercy; the more dangerous is the wound, the more the compassionate Physician is moved to apply the proper remedy for the cure. Compare 2 Samuel 24:10; Isaiah 55:7, note; Romans 5:20.

[mem (m)]

Verse 12

What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. Him shall he teach. Yahweh, by His Spirit, will teach him effectually the path which he must choose in order to be saved. A choice must be made between the ways of God and the ways of unbelief (Joshua 24:15).

[nun (n)]

Verse 13

His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.

Shall dwell at ease ( luwn (H3885)) - literally, 'shall pass the night in good;' i:e., shall abide permanently in good (Job 17:2, English version, cf. margin; Proverbs 19:23). I prefer restricting the term to his passing the night of this present life (Romans 13:12) - the times of darkness and the dying hour-in peace (Psalms 23:4).

His seed shall inherit the earth - as was promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-20; Genesis 15:1-21); and subsequently to Israel, and to all the godly, in the New Testament, in the fullest sense (Matthew 5:5). The ungodly, with all their seed, shall be uprooted out of the earth.

[samekh (c)]

Verse 14

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

The secret of the Lord. "The secret;" the Hebrew (sod) is often used of a privy council met for deliberation (Job 29:4): here it means the familiar intimacy of Yahweh (Proverbs 3:32; John 15:15).

His covenant. The way in which, especially, God shows His 'familiar intimacy' with his people, is by communicating to them by His Spirit inwardly the covenant of salvation not to be known by carnal reason (Isaiah 54:13; John 6:45; John 7:17; Revelation 2:17).

[`ayin (')]

Verse 15

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord - resuming the plea in Psalms 25:1-2 (cf. Psalms 123:1-2).

Feet out of the net - laid for me by my enemies (Psalms 9:15).

[pe (p)]

Verse 16

Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.

Turn thee unto me ... for I am desolate - literally, 'solitary' (Psalms 68:6). David, though a king; with large armies felt himself as one alone, having no help except in God.

[tsade (ts)]

Verse 17

The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.

The troubles of my heart. "The troubles" - lit, 'straitnesses' ( tsaarowt (H6869)), standing in emphatic contrast to "enlarged." His many troubles drive him to the only One who can bring him out of them all. As the first clause of Psalms 25:17 answers to the last clause of Psalms 25:16, so also the last clause of Psalms 25:17 answers to the first clause of Psalms 25:16.

[resh (r)]

Verse 18

Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

Forgive all my sins ( naasa' (H5375)) - literally, 'bear all my sins;' take them away by the atoning Victim bearing them on Him (Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:12). Compare the types, Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 16:22; Numbers 5:31. "Sin" is the deadly root of all the "affliction" and "pain" in the world. In praying that sin may be taken away, we cut the root of all our of all the "affliction" and "pain" in the world. In praying that sin may be taken away, we cut the root of all our misery.

[resh (r)]

Verse 19

Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.

Consider - the same Hebrew as in Psalms 25:18, "Look upon." Whilst God looks upon His own people with compassion for their "affliction," and with "forgiveness" for their "sins," He "looks upon" their "enemies" with wrathful jealousy for His own honour and for His people's safety (Exodus 14:24).

Cruel hatred. The Hebrew ( chaamaac (H2555)) "cruel" expresses and injustice (Psalms 25:3, end). The number and the violent injustice of the believer's enemies are strong reasons with God for interposing, both through regard to His people and through His hatred of injustice.

[shin (sh)]

Verse 20

O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.

O keep my soul - (Psalms 22:20.) Another effectual plea, the preciousness in God's sight of his "soul" which is endangered.

I put my trust in thee - resuming at the close the plea in the beginning (Psalms 25:1-2).

[taw (t)]

Verse 21

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Integrity - i:e., not that a man's own "integrity" saves him; but it is the evidence of God's grace in him, and pleasing to God, so that we may be sure God will "preserve" such a one. God's part is expressed in Psalms 40:11, "Let THY loving-kindness and THY truth continually preserve me."

Verse 22

Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Redeem Israel, O God - concluding summary. David's cause was the cause of "Israel," and is the cause of the whole Church. As her representative, he gives an inspired directory as to the spirit and the words to be used by believers when they pray in trouble. "Redeem" - i:e., ransom, deliver by paying a price ( pªdeeh (H6299): apolutroun). There can be no redemption for all Israel until "there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer," who "shall turn sway ungodliness from Jacob" (Isaiah 59:20). Note that Yahweh (H3068) is the title of God throughout the psalm: 'Elohiym (H430) is the title in this last verse. Thus it is marked that Yahweh

(H3068), the God of the covenant, is also 'Elohiym (H430), the Mighty Creator and Preserver, who is able, as He willing, to keep His promises, and to "redeem" His people.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.