The book of Psalms has given expression to believers throughout the history of the church. The book covers various emotions of the people of God at various points of their walk with Him. No matter what you are feeling as a Christian, it is encouraging to know you are not alone; neither are you the first person to have gone through that experience. Whether it is fear, disappointment, anxiety, depression, abandonment, brokenness, hurt, joy, peace and the list goes on, the saints who have walked this path once felt the same at one point or the other in their lives.
Psalm 25 has been one of the most encouraging of the Psalms to me this year to me this year. It is a Psalm where David laments and cries in anguish to God to help him in various troubles he faces in his life. Unlike many other Psalms, there is no specific occasion which is cited as the reason for writing of this Psalm. Some commentators have said David wrote this chapter during the last days of King Saul. Others say it was written during the rebellion of Absalom. All these are speculations because no one knows exactly why it was written. However, regardless of the occasion, one thing is clear. It is a prayer in which the Psalmist brings before God various requests.This makes it very useful for every believer, because the requests being offered here are those we can all identify with.
Psalm 25 is an acrostic: a Psalm where each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. If it were in English, the first verse will begin with a word that starts with the letter “A”, the second verse with a word starting with “B” the third verse with “C” in that order. Because of its acrostic structure, the themes of the Psalm are scattered throughout the chapter. You will notice that the same topic is spoken about, and in some cases expanded in other sections of the passage. But as you go through the Psalm, you notice it is a prayer with three major requests or themes David brings before God. He prays for
1) Protection from Enemies
2) Divine Guidance
3) Forgiveness of Sins
David didn’t only pray around these three themes, he also expressed a high confidence in the God to whom he prayed. He had no doubt in his mind that God will hear his prayers and answer.
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust (vv. 1-2).
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies (vv. 8-10).
David’s confidence in prayer is rooted in the unchanging character of God. So must ours. As a matter of fact, the Christian life rests on our confidence in the faithfulness, character and nature of God (1 John 5:14-15, Hebrew 11:6). As David prays, his prayer is intermittently accentuated with a strong confidence in God. Prayer is a window to the heart of the believer; we can tell what kind of Christian you are by listening to your prayers over time. Your prayer will tell how trustful you are of God and his sufficiency. We can also tell if you are kingdom minded or earthly minded. Your view about God’s holiness and your sinfulness can all be discerned from your prayers. If God gave us a diary of all the prayers you’ve prayed since you became a Christian, what kind of Christian would we see?
At this point, let’s consider these three prayer points which run through Psalm 25. I will treat these as a series beginning with
A Prayer For Protection.
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous (vv1-3).
David was no stranger to enemies. Right from the palace of King Saul to his own household, there were those who sought to harm him. His life was one of constant contention with enemies. We know there is no particular occasion cited for writing this Psalm, which means it is not about any particular enemy. The enemies being referred to here could therefore be understood as David’s enemies in general. Throughout his life, there were people who hated him for no just cause. Whether it was Saul and his relentless pursuit or his own son Absalom, David had to fight on a daily basis for his very survival. No king in Israel fought as many battles as David (1Chronicles 22:8). Again in verses vv.19-20, he writes: “Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you”
I have no doubt we each have our own share of enemies; people who hate us for no just cause. Some of these could be colleagues in the office who backstab you in order to appear favourable in the eyes of the boss. They could be friends who betray us with malicious intent. Sometimes our enemies could even be members of our own families who hate us because of our faith.
Regardless of who they are, enemies don’t seek our good. They don’t wish us well. Their intention is to harm us and shame us. They exult in our shame. Because of this, the natural reaction is often to hit back and pay them back in their own coin. We often take matters into our own hands and avenge ourselves. What is remarkable about David was not so much the battles he won or how many of his enemies he defeated. What is remarkable about him was how he approached the problem of enemies in his life.
If we look at verse 1 & 2, he entrusted himself to the God who is able to protect him. He says; “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust” Instead of looking for ways to hit back, he turns to the God to whom belongs vengeance. His prayer was that God will deliver him from all their plots. It takes a lot of confidence in the justice system of God to actually leave your case to him. Any time we take matters into our own hands or take revenge, what we are saying is that we don’t trust God to defend our cause. In Romans 12:19, Paul gave this advice to the believers in Rome “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Do you have enemies? David shows us a better way of dealing with people who seek our harm. He went to God on his knees.
In the next article, we will look at Praying For Guidance.