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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 25

Verses 1-22


Psalms 25:1-22.

V. 1. The repeated and deep confessions of sin, which are blended with the petitions and complaints throughout this psalm, favour the opinion of those, who think it was written during Absalom’s rebellion, by which David’s atrocious crimes in the matter of Uriah, as well as the sins of his youth, were brought to his remembrance. The expression, " Unto thee do I lift " up my soul," emphatically describes the nature of fervent prayer, when all dependence on creatures, and expectation from them, are sensibly renounced; and the earnest desires of the soul accompany the voice, but are indeed too large for utterance.

(Marg. Ref, Notes, Psalms 62:8-10. 1 Samuel 1:12-16. Romans 8:24-27.)

V. 2, 3. These verses are rendered, in most versions, merely as a prayer throughout. Yet the third verse may be rendered more literally, " Yea, none who wait on thee " shall be ashamed : they shall be ashamed who act pera falimisiy without cause." David had given Saul and his adherents no just cause to hate and persecute him ; nor had Absalom, or the rebellious Israelites, any cause for their treason and perfidy. Their hatred was not only unmerited, but directly contrary to his deserts. It was wholly free, or gratuitous. The Jews hated Christ without a cause, or freely : the same word being employed, as the ostle uses in respect of a sinner’s justification before God, " Being justified freely." (Comp. John 15:25. Romans 3:24. Gr.)

Yea let none, &c. (3) As if the Psalmist had subjoined to his foregoing request, ’ Yea, I know that my prayer will be answered, as I am one who wait upon God, and none who do so shall be ashamed.’ It is peculiarly animated and beautiful.

V. 4, 5. ’It is hard to know what to do in these ’ difficult times, especially in this great agitation of ’ thoughts, wherein my troubled mind is tossed up and ’ down. Therefore do thou be pleased, O LORD, to shew me the course thou wouldst have me take, and govern ’ my actions so, that they may be pleasing unto thee. 1 have as much need of thy guidance, as a little child has of its parents, and I cry as earnestly unto thee, that thou ’ wilt direct me in every step.’ Bp. Patrick. To be guided in the path of faithfulness to men, of faith in God, and of inviolable adherence to truth and duty in such circumstances, was peculiarly desirable. For this blessing, more than for victory, David waited continually, all the day, and every day, on God his Saviour.

(Notes,Psalms 86:3-5; Psalms 88:1-2.) The term, wait, implies a simple, dependent, expecting, attentive state of heart ; which leads to frequency and perseverance in the use of proper means, notwithstanding delays and discouragements, with a determined rejection of all other confidences, and all inconsistent measures. (Notes, Psalms 130:5-6, Genesis 49:18. Lamentations 3:24-30. James 5:7-11.-)

V. 6, 7. The contrast between the Lord’s " remembering his tender mercies, and loving kindnesses," which had always been exercised to his worshippers, and sprang from his everlasting love; and his not "remembering" the Psalmist’s transgressions, is very expressive. When God thus remembers his mercies, he ceases to remember our sins ; that is, he does not punish us for them. (Note, Jeremiah 31:33-34.) The language also is peculiarly emphatical. The distinction between the sins of youth, thus brought afresh to remembrance, and later transgressions of which David was conscious, seems to fix the occasion of the psalm to have been as above stated. (Note, 1.) He could find no reason, in himself, why God should remember him in mercy ; but he pleads with him to do it for his own goodness’ sake. (Marg. Ref. s, t.) Most of the verses in this Psalm begin with the Hebrew letters, in alphabetical order ; (of which there are several instances in the Psalms ;) but a few omissions and variations are found, which some ascribe to the perturbation of David’s mind.

V. 8, 9. The goodness and mercy of God dispose him to be kind even to sinners ; and instead of inflicting immediate vengeance, to use various methods of bringing them to repentance. He is " upright " and sincere in all his declarations and invitations, and he loves truth and justice; he is therefore ever ready to teach his ways of peace and holiness to all those, however sinful, who are humbly willing to learn them, that they may enter on them and walk in them. But the proud and obstinate, who feel no need of such instructions, or desires after them, and are not disposed to practise what they know, do not properly apply for divine teaching. And as the Master in this school is " meek and lowly in heart," and teaches with gentleness and wisdom; the scholars should surely be teachable, and learn in meekness and humility. (Notes, Matthew 11:28-30. James 1:19-21. P. O. Mark 10:1-16.)

V. 10. All the dealings of God with those who accept of his salvation according to his covenant of grace, and " walk with him," by faith in his truths and promises, and in obedience to his commandments, are the result of his wisdom, and consistent with his mercy and faithfulness ; and therefore they will all eventually do them good, what- ever present appearances may be. (Notes, Is. 55. 13; 56. 3-7. Romans 8:28-31.) Or the passage may mean, that all the commands and counsels of God, the paths in which he calls his people to walk with him, are good in themselves, and do good to the upright ; and lead them to experience the fulfilment of his merciful and faithful promises.

V. 11 . Had David’s iniquity been great, and he had thought it but little, his plea would have been inadmissible : but his argument was, that " where sin had abounded, " grace might much more abound." (Notes, Romans 5:20-21. Ephesians 1:3-8.) Thus the name, or perfections, of God would be displayed and glorified : and on this ground he hoped for pardon of his most atrocious sins, and on this alone ; so that, if this plea did not prevail, he must sink in hopeless misery. Some would render the clause " though it be great : " but certainly this is not the most obvious interpretation ; and probably would not have been adduced, except either out of dislike to the doctrine implied in our version, or a fear of its being perverted. (Note, Romans 6:1-2.)

V. 12, 13. It is said of all unconverted men, that " there i* r.o fear of God before their eyes ; " and that " the " fear or the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." (Notes, Psalms 111:9-10. Romans 3:9-18.) Where then is that man, in this evil world, who truly reverences the authority of God, who fears his displeasure, and seeks his favour, as the main concern of his life? How disadvantageous] soever he may be circumstanced ; how great soever his past ir,uilt, or his present darkness and discouragement; the God of all grace, who has excited this fear by his own preventing grace, will assuredly afford him the means of instruction, and enable him to profit by them : so that eventually, he " shall dwell at ease," or lodge in goodness (marg.) ; and shall find a never-failing source of comfort in the divine love, while he expects the complete felicity of heaven at last. The inheritance of Canaan was a type of heaven : but indeed that man inherits the earth as far as it can profit him, who has food and raiment, and lives contented and in peace : and the man who " lives godly in " Christ Jesus," is also warranted to hope for the same blessings in behalf of his children, when about to leave them.

V. 14. The knowledge of the glory and harmony of the divine perfections, which encourages a sinner to trust and love a holy God ; that sweet communion, which the believer enjoys with God his Saviour; and that peace and joy, which springs from the earnest of the Spirit, may be well called " The secret of the LORD : " and they lead the soul into a conciliating and satisfactory acquaintance with his purposes, and the wisdom and equity of them ; and with the security and blessings of the new covenant, and the assurance of an interest in it.

(Notes, Proverbs 3:32. Matthew 13:10-13. John 14:21-24. Colossians 3:11. Revelation 2:17 -} But none, except those who fear God, can possibly enjoy this satisfaction, which must still remain a secret to all ungodly men. Several other discoveries of the secret plan and purposes of God, may also be intended, which none but the pious Christian can receive. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 15, 16. (Notes,Psalms 121:1-2. Psalms 123:1-2. Psalms 124:4-8. Psalms 141:8-10.) The word rendered " desolate " is the masculine of the noun, which, when feminine, is translated "my darling." (Note, Psalms 22:19-21.) The Septuagint here render it, " only begotten ;" as it certainly means in some places : but in this connexion it seems rather to imply the destitute condition of the Psalmist, when left alone, or forsaken by his former adherents and friends; and a fit type of Christ, as deserted by his disciples, and surrounded by his insulting enemies.

V. I7- 20. Every occurrence during Absalom’s rebellion tended to augment the distress of David ; especially in reminding him of his sins, which were thus visited on him, as Nathan had foretold.

(Notes, 2 Samuel 12:10-12.)

He therefore united reiterated prayers for pardon, with his earnest requests for deliverance. He was aware, tliat even his own son, and his bosom-counsellor, and a large part of the nation, thirsted for his blood ; and would decline no violence, treachery, or cruelty, to destroy him : so that his life could be preserved only by the same divine power and mercy, in which he trusted for the salvation of his soul. (Notes, 2 Samuel 15:18:)

V. 21. Jn the sight of God, David pleaded guilty of great and many sins ; but he had acted an upright part towards his unnatural son, and treacherous subjects. As a penitent likewise, he was " without guile," and was determined to adopt no sinful measures for his preservation. And thus waiting on God, he trusted that he should be preserved. " Integrity and uprightness shall preserve me."

V. 22. The cause of the royal sufferer was that of his nation, and of true religion. While he was banished from Jerusalem, the people were oppressed, the wicked triumphed, and piety languished : and if the traitors succeeded, the event would exceedingly tend to obstruct the best interests of Israel. David therefore, in this prayer for the redemption of Israel from oppression, was a type of Christ interceding, amidst his personal sufferings, for his church; and for his own exaltation, as indispensably necessary to her interests, and to the salvation of his elect people. (Notes, Psalms 51:18-19; Psalms 130:7-8. John 17:1-26:)


V. 1-7.

In vain will our voice be lifted up in prayer, unless our souls be lifted up to God, in fervent desires and believing expectations. They who trust in the Lord, will never be ashamed of their hope ; nor shall any boasting or menacing enemies triumph over them. They will wait continually upon the Lord with their humble desires, and wait his time of granting them : and while others have the benefit of their prayers, thousands are praying for them, by character, if not by name. Their heavenly Advocate also presents his effectual intercessions : and a cause so pleaded cannot but prevail ; as they who injure or hate them, without cause or provocation, will at length experience to their unspeakable shame and confusion. But we must be careful not to give our enemies so much as a plausible pretext for their malice ; and for that reason should above all things be instant in praying, to be guided in the ways of trutli and holiness. The most wise and experienced feel most their need of this continual teaching, and are most desirous of it ; not only lest they should be wholly deceived, but lest they should be seduced into any paths error or iniquity. They will therefore " wait all the DAY on " the God of their salvation." And his tender mercies, and his love to his people of old, will encourage them to come to him, that they may be remembered in the same gracious manner. Recent transgressions followed by chastisements, if they have a proper effect, must lead most of us to recollect, and with shame confess, the sins of our youth, which are thus remembered against us : and thus we may humbly hope that the Lord will remember us according to his mercy, and blot them out " for his good" ness’ sake."

V. 8-22,

The most ignorant or atrocious sinner may properly be encouraged to trust in our gracious God, who in perfect sincerity invites all who hear to come to him. He delights in directing the sinner in the way of acceptance, and the believer in the paths of holiness : and when the heart is humbled, and the rebellious will subdued, the understanding shall be further enlightened to perceive the truths of God. He who has learned, in meek and humble teachableness, to sit at the Saviour’s feet and hear his word, shall soon be made acquainted with the secret comforts of true godliness, and shewn the nature and excellency of his everlasting covenant : and having acceded to it, and learned to walk with him in faith and obedience, according to its tenour ; he shall find every one of the Lord’s dispensations towards him to be unmingled truth and mercy ; not excepting his sharpest trials and severest corrections.

The sudden recollection of the greatness of his iniquity may often assail his confidence ; but faith in the Lord’s more abundant mercy can even convert that into an argument, why he should pardon. Pride, obstinacy, and the love of sin, dictate all the complaints which are made of difficulty and uncertainty, in discovering the truth and will of God : for wherever there is a man who truly fears the Lord, he shall certainly be taught by the Holy Spirit the safe and happy way. He will surely be directed to the Saviour, and there find rest to his soul ; and reposing his care and confidence upon his reconciled God, he will cheerfully wait for more complete joys in heaven ; and commit his children also to the Lord, desiring his blessing for their inheritance. That we come short of this serene and happy life, is the effect of remaining unbelief and disobedience ; and because we are so often needlessly running into the snares of the world, and are thus caught by Satan’s wiles. Let us then look more entirely to God, that he would pluck our feet out of every net, and preserve us from every entangling care. Let us pray more earnestly, when we are most desolate of earthly comforts and com forters, or oppressed with sorrows ; for the Lord is able to support and deliver us. He considers the number and cruel hatred of our enemies ; and if either the injuries of man, or the temptations of Satan, render our pravtrs more frequent and fervent, they will eventually prove of great service to us. Let us especially pray for " integrity and ’ uprightness of heart," which will be our best preservative from dangers, delusions, and temptations ; and secure to us purer comforts and more solid advantages, than the friendship, or even the possession, of the whole world. And, while we wait on the Lord about our own concerns, let us remember our brethren in tribulation, and pray for them also, that they may be redeemed from all their sins, enemies, temptations, and troubles ; and that the church of God may be enlarged and prospered, and fill the whole earth.

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 25". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.