Teach Me the Way – From A to Z

Psalm 25

Acrostic or alphabetical psalm, sort-of; perhaps a memory aid. This psalm the work of seasoned believer (v.7, “sins of my youth”). Reflected in approach to prayer, topics covered.

“It is difficult to analyze a psalm of this kind, because there is not always sequence of thought, and the psalm is necessarily somewhat mechanical.” Dr. Marion Hull

Perhaps so, but… try to analyze any sincere prayer that comes from the heart of God’s child! “David is pictured in this psalm as in a faithful miniature …so that we see the very heart of the man after God’s own heart”. Spurgeon There are repeated themes / words throughout the psalm contained in an envelope – “Let me not be ashamed” (v.2-3, 20). Prayer could be summarized this way:

Lord I pray to you, confident that you will teach me the way I should go from A-to-Z and deliver me from all my enemies so I will not be ashamed.

A. attitude of prayer

to You (1a)

focused – “to you” is emphatic, placed at beginning

kind of praying James exhorts – “ask in faith without doubting”, without wavering, vacillating

requires effort to keep mind intent on particular object that can only be perceived by faith; essential to effectual prayer

lift up (1b)

encouraged – not just hands and eyes, heart and soul also

if prayer is fellowship of soul with heaven, should leave troubles at foot of Jacob’s ladder and meet covenant God at top

at times when soul can’t be lifted up, “more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle” (CHS) pray God in his love to draw soul up to meet him

trust (2)

committed – God is not one source of help among many

Psalmist has all eggs in one basket, depending for all needs on God

the kind of trust that provides sense of security

wait (3)

expected – waiting implies expectation; why wait otherwise?

waiting on human / earthly agents can (often does) result in disappointment – no-show’s, unexpected outcome, etc.

not ever true of waiting on God – always a good outcome for his people, never a disappointment

B. prayer for direction

=>way (4a, 8b, 9b, 12b) / path (4b, 10a)

way: path worn by constant walking, major highway

path: most often figurative, way to life or death

even one who is born again still lacks spiritual understanding, does not automatically know what is right in all situations

show (4a, 14)

more than simply shine a light on the road; make me understand the right way

be able to distinguish right from wrong, what pleases from what displeases God

knowledge of nature and extent of God’s covenant, individual’s part in it

“He who does not know the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him look to the cross for the secret lies there.” CHS

teach (4b, 8, 12)

on basis of revealed word, not in addition to it

enables “sinners” to understand both doctrine and application – biblical principles and how they apply in life

teaching sinners is natural outworking of God’s goodness and righteousness

“If we make our will God’s will, God will let us have our will. …he instructs our wills, and so we choose that which is well-pleasing in his sight.” CHS

lead (5, 9)

march, tread – walk with firm, measured step; in no way tentative or uncertain

practical teaching at its best: by showing; show the right way by walking in it first

especially true of “the God of our salvation”, Lord Jesus – “leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps”. 1 Pet. 2:21

C. prayer for deliverance

remember / turn / look (6a, 7b, 16a, 18a)

cry of one experiencing affliction – depth of misery calls on depth of mercy, confidently: based on past history

prayer for God to treat according to mercy not justice – for us, treat according to standing in Christ

cry of one experiencing aloneness – without sense of God’s presence and favor, face turned away/averted in displeasure

another plea for God’s attention with intent to relieve suffering; acknowledges suffering may be connected with need for correction

“When he visits the body, it is for the soul’s sake.” Richard Sibbes

do not remember / pardon / have mercy / forgive (7a, 11, 16b, 18b)

doesn’t ask God to remember everything (smile!) – don’t remember (to hold against him) past sin / rebellion

true humility – recognizes greatness of sin, seeks pardon: relief from punishment

don’t give what he deserves, give what he doesn’t deserve – have mercy / be gracious

forgive = lift up; lift burden of sin off, carry it away

pluck / bring me out / deliver / redeem (15, 17, 20a, 22)

prayer for deliverance from enemies – primarily (but not exclusively) human agents in David’s view; principles apply to quintessential enemy, sin

trusting in covenant Lord alone to pluck/deliver out of enemy’s trap – something he fell into unaware

on a downward trend here, distress is increasing; same God can do same thing, pluck/bring him out of his suffering

deliver out of evil

“The believer might indeed tremble, if he went forth alone to his daily conflict; for many are his foes. …But the believer has omnipotent aid beside him. If foes are many, the help is infinite. The humble plea, “I trust in You,” will bring all heaven to the rescue.” Henry Law

=>deliver from both consequences and circumstances of sin, both personal and that of others

two parts to picture: God’s work and man’s work

God’s work to teach, guide, deliver; man’s work to learn, follow, seek help and forgiveness

primary resources: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, prayer

keep / preserve (20a, 21)

keep me out of trouble

“another version of the prayer, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” CHS

so long as trust is in God, trouble, no matter how great, will not, can not overwhelm

preserve / protect me from danger – physical protection is important, spiritual protection more so

misery of sin is worse than physical misery

protection of soul has eternal significance; protection of body significant for only small blip on radar

D. result of prayer

keep from shame

envelope: v.2, 20

disappointed – trust in God with good reason, don’t let me down

ashamed – reputation for trusting in God, don’t give enemies opportunity to mock (see Matt. 27:40-43)

in fact, if anyone should be disappointed, make it God’s enemies

conditions necessary for protection from disappointment

trust (2) – have/place confidence in God, not self or others

wait (3) – patient expectation of God’s guidance and protection

take shelter (20) – relying on God to fight against enemies of body and soul

The prayer is that of a person who has made the choice and is walking the road of the righteous; but the dispassionate wisdom has been transformed to passionate petition, for the right road is not an easy one on which to walk. … The essence of the road of the righteous is this: it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God. … Ps 1 is a signpost which directs the wise to the choice of the right road; Ps 25 is a companion for use along the way.” — Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50, Word Biblical Commentary

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