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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 25

A.M. 2987. B.C. 1017.

This is the first of those seven Psalms which are composed in the alphabetical, or acrostic form, according to which every verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in their order of succession. But even in this form, which seems particularly guarded against mistakes, several mistakes appear to have been made by transcribers, three of the letters being now wanting, and not the last verse, but the last but one, beginning with ת , tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Psalm seems to have been composed by David when he was in great distress, probably on account of his sin in the matter of Uriah; because, in all his distresses before that event, he speaks with great confidence in his innocence, but after it, with great humility, contrition, and sometimes dejection, as he does here. In his distress, however, he takes refuge in God, Psalms 25:1-7 . Shows the goodness of God to them that fear him, Psalms 25:8-15 . Prays for help against his enemies, and for the church.

Verses 1-3

Psalms 25:1-3. Unto thee do I lift up my soul That is, I direct my prayers to thee with hope of a gracious answer. Let me not be ashamed That is, disappointed of my hope, which will be reproachful to me, and not without reflection upon thee, of whose power and faithfulness I have made my boast. Let none that wait on thee be ashamed With me and for me: for if I be frustrated, those that trust in thee will be discouraged, and upbraided with my example. Let them be ashamed Blast their wicked designs and hopes, who transgress Hebrew, הבגדים , ha-bogedim, who prevaricate, or deal perfidiously, namely, with me, violating their faith given to me; without a cause Without any provocation of mine, or without any sufficient reason. Or, by transgressing without a cause; or vainly, or rashly, as ריקם , reikam, signifies; he may mean, 1st, Transgressing upon no provocation; and may intend to describe those that revolt from God and their duty, without any occasion given them, not being able to pretend that they have found any iniquity in God, or that in any thing he hath wearied them. The weaker the temptation is, by which men are induced to sin, the stronger the corruption is by which they are drawn thereto. Those are the worst sinners that sin for sinning’s sake: or, 2d, To no purpose: they know their attempts against God, and his cause and people, are fruitless, and therefore they will soon be ashamed of them.

Verse 4

Psalms 25:4 . Show me thy ways, O Lord That is, the way or thy precepts, what I ought to do in my circumstances and difficulties; by what methods I may obtain thy favour and help. Whatsoever thou doest with me, as to other things, grant me this favour, teach me my duty, and cause me to keep close to it, notwithstanding all temptations to the contrary. Reader, art thou a traveller to heaven? Remember, then, thou art in danger of being drawn aside and losing thy way. The way is marked out in the word of God, and to walk according to that is to walk in the way. God only can put thee in the way, and preserve and forward thee therein, for which purpose continue instant in prayer, after the example of David, to the God of thy salvation, that he would teach thee to know and do his will.

Verse 5

Psalms 25:5. Lead me in thy truth In the true and right way prescribed in thy word, which is often called truth; or, through, or, because of, thy truth; because thou art faithful, lead and guide me as thou hast promised to do. For thou art the God of my salvation Who hast saved me formerly, and hast engaged to save me, and from whom alone I expect salvation. On thee do I wait all the day In the midst of all my concerns, however important, I am always desiring and expecting thy teaching and direction, being continually disposed and determined to comply with thy will, as far as it is made known.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 25:6-7. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies O consider thy own merciful nature, and thy former manifold favours vouchsafed to me, and to other miserable sinners, and act like thyself. For they have been ever of old Thou hast been gracious to such as I am from the beginning of the world to this day, and to me in particular from my very infancy; yea, from all eternity thou hast had a good will to me, and therefore do not now desert me. Remember not So as to lay them to my charge; the sins of my youth The sins committed in my young and tender years; my youthful faults and follies. These God frequently punishes in riper years, (Job 13:26,) and therefore he now prays that God would not so deal with him. Nor my transgressions Nor any of my succeeding or other sins; for thy goodness’ sake Being a sinner, I have nothing to plead for myself but thy free mercy and goodness, which I now implore.

Verses 8-9

Psalms 25:8-9. Good and upright is the Lord Bountiful and gracious, ready to do good, and delighting in it: and right, or righteous, (as ישׁר , jashar, here rendered upright, means,) that is, holy and true, sincere in making promises, and in all his declarations and offers of mercy to sinners, and faithful in fulfilling them. Therefore will he teach sinners the way Being such a one, he will not be wanting to such poor sinners as I am, but will guide them by his Word and Spirit, and gracious providence, into the way of life and peace. By sinners he doth not intend all that are so; for such as are obstinate, proud, and scornful, God hath declared he will not teach or direct, but will leave them to the errors and lusts of their own hearts; but only such as, being truly sensible of their sins, do humbly and earnestly seek of God grace and mercy; or such as are meek, as the next verse explains it, that is, humble and gentle, and who meekly submit themselves to God’s hand, and are willing and desirous to be directed and governed by him. These he will guide in judgment That is, in the paths of judgment, in the right way in which they ought to walk; and by the rule of his word, which is often called his judgment: or, with judgment, that is, with a wise and provident care and a due regard to all their circumstances.

Verse 10

Psalms 25:10. All the paths of the Lord All the dealings of God with them, yea, even those that are afflictive and grievous to the flesh; are mercy and truth Are in kindness and faithfulness, as being very necessary for them, and tending to their great advantage; unto such as keep his covenant The conditions required of them by his covenant; or, as it follows, his testimonies, or precepts, which are the testimonies or witnesses of God’s will, and of man’s duty.

Verse 11

Psalms 25:11. For thy name’s sake That is, for the honour of thy goodness and truth, which is concerned herein, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great And therefore only such a merciful and gracious God as thou art can pardon it, and nothing but thy own name can move thee to do it; and the pardoning of it will well become so great and good a God, and will tend much to the illustration of thy glory, as the greatness and desperateness of the disease advanceth the honour and praise of the physician that cures it; or this may be urged, not as an argument to move God, but as the reason that moved him to pray so earnestly for pardon: as if he had said, It is great, and therefore I am undone, for ever undone, if infinite mercy do not interpose to forgive it. Or, I see it to be great, I acknowledge it to be so, and am penitent for it, and therefore, according to thy promises to the penitent, forgive it. Or, though it be great, as the particle כי , chi, is often rendered. Possibly he speaks of his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba.

Verses 12-13

Psalms 25:12-13. What man is he that feareth the Lord Whosoever he be, whether Jew or Gentile, whether comparatively innocent or a great sinner, which is my case: him shall he teach in the way he shall choose The way which God chooseth, or appointeth and approveth, or which the good man should, or ought to choose. His soul shall dwell at ease Hebrew, בשׂוב תלין , betob talin, shall lodge, that is, continue in good, in the possession and enjoyment of the true good. His seed shall inherit the earth Or, the land, namely, Canaan; which was promised and given as an earnest of the whole covenant of grace and all its promises.

Verse 14

Psalms 25:14. The secret of the Lord Hebrew, סוד , sod, his fixed counsel, or design, is with them that fear him To direct and guide them in the right way; to show them their duty in all conditions, and the way to eternal salvation. “The greatest happiness of man in this world,” says Dr. Horne, “is to know the fixed and determinate counsels of God concerning the human race, and to understand the covenant of redemption.” This, though it was revealed, yet might be called a secret, because of the many and deep mysteries in it, and because it is said to be hid from many of them to whom it was revealed, Matthew 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:13-15; 2 Corinthians 4:3; and it cannot be understood to any purpose without the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit. Or, the secret of the Lord means his love and favour, which is called his secret, Job 29:4; Proverbs 3:32; and because it is known to none but him that enjoyeth it. And he will show Hebrew, he will make them to know his covenant That is, he will make them clearly to understand both its duties and its blessings, neither of which ungodly men rightly understand; he will make them to know it by experience, or he will fulfil and make it good to them and in them; as, on the contrary, God threatens to make ungodly men to know his breach of promise, Numbers 14:34.

Verses 15-16

Psalms 25:15-16. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord My trust is in him, and my expectation of relief is from him only. He shall pluck my feet out of the net He will deliver me out of all my temptations and tribulations. Turn thee unto me Turn thy face and favour to me; for I am desolate and afflicted Destitute of all other hopes and succours, persecuted by mine enemies, and forsaken by most of my friends. Such was his condition during Absalom’s rebellion. “They who are ever looking unto the Lord will be heard when they beseech him to turn his face, and to look upon them.” Horne.

Verses 17-20

Psalms 25:17-20. The troubles of my heart are enlarged My outward troubles are accompanied with grievous distresses of my mind and heart for my sins, which have procured them, and for thy great displeasure manifested in them. Look upon mine affliction With compassion, as Exodus 3:7-8; Psalms 31:7; Psalms 106:44. And forgive all my sins The procuring and continuing causes of my trouble. “David joins this petition to the foregoing one, because he considered, whatever afflictions and crosses were brought upon him, how just soever they might be, with respect to his enemies, who were the apparent causes of them; yet that, according to God’s appointment, or permission, they might be the effects and punishment of his sins.” Dodd. O keep my soul Myself, or my life, as that word is commonly taken: for his soul was out of his enemies’ reach, who could only kill his body, Luke 12:4.

Verse 21

Psalms 25:21. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me Though I have greatly offended thee, yet remember that I have dealt honestly and sincerely with mine eugenics, while they have dealt falsely and injuriously with me; and therefore judge between them and me, and deal with me according to the righteousness of my cause and conduct toward them. David’s praying that integrity might preserve him, “intimates,” says Henry, “that he did not expect to be safe any longer than he continued in his integrity and uprightness; and that while he did continue in it, he did not doubt of being safe. Sincerity,” adds he, “will be our best security in the worst of times. Integrity and uprightness will be a man’s preservation more than the wealth and honour of the world can be; this will preserve us to the heavenly kingdom. We should therefore pray to God to preserve us in our integrity, and then be assured that that will preserve us.”

Verse 22

Psalms 25:22. Redeem Israel, O God, &c. “Have mercy, not upon me only, but upon the whole nation, who are miserably distracted by their divisions, and restore them to peace and quietness.” Bishop Patrick, who supposes that the Psalm was written during the troubles occasioned by Absalom. David was now in trouble himself, in great trouble, (Psalms 25:17,) and very earnest he was in praying to God for deliverance; yet he forgets not the distresses of God’s church. Good men have little comfort in their own safety while the church is in distress and danger. This prayer is a three-fold prophecy; 1st, That God would at length give David rest, and therewith give Israel rest from all their enemies round about. 2d, That he would send the Messiah, in due time, to redeem Israel from all his iniquities, Psalms 130:0. ult., and so to redeem them from their troubles; and, 3d, Of the happiness of the future state. In heaven, and in heaven only, will God’s Israel be perfectly redeemed from all troubles.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 25". Benson's Commentary. 1857.