Lifting Up Our Soul to the Lord

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed” (Psalm 25:1-3).

This psalm is about our dependence upon God – something that each one of us needs to be reminded of from time to time. The text describes three areas in which we are dependent upon the Lord.

The psalmist explained this by describing himself as lifting up his soul to the Lord. This denotes a surrender of oneself to Him – a complete trust in God that carried with it a confidence that he would not be ashamed.

Let us consider what this psalm teaches us about our need for the Lord and the three ways in which we are dependent upon what He provides.

The Lord Provides Forgiveness

Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your lovingkindness remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Psalm 25:4-7).

The psalmist recognized that God’s word was his standard; therefore, he expressed a desire to “know [God’s] ways” (Psalm 25:4). He knew that His truth was the only way to salvation (Psalm 25:5) [more on God’s instructions in the next point].

However, even though he acknowledged God’s word as the standard, he still recognized his need for God’s mercy. God had continually showed His grace and mercy to him (Psalm 25:6). The psalmist appealed to God to “not remember the sins of [his] youth” (Psalm 25:7). Yet the fact that they were characteristic of his “youth” implies his own repentance.

For us today, God offers forgiveness through His Son. Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Salvation is available through the grace and mercy of God: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Yet to receive forgiveness, we – like the psalmist – need to repent and turn from our sins. This was why Paul used the past tense when he said that the brethren in Ephesus “were dead in [their] trespasses and sins” and that they had “formerly walked” in them just as the world. If we desire the forgiveness of our sins today through the grace and mercy of God, we need to repent of our sins and turn to follow the Lord.

The Lord Provides Instruction

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net” (Psalm 25:8-15).

The psalmist specified that God provides instruction for “sinners” (Psalm 25:8). This goes back to the previous point. God’s word has been revealed to show people how to reform their lives and be forgiven.

However, even though all can be classified as “sinners” (cf. Romans 3:23), not all will listen to the words of God that He revealed for them. Therefore, the psalmist continued to make the point that the Lord “teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9). Humility is necessary for us to receive God’s word. James made this point in his letter: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Humbling ourselves before God is connected with the fear of God (Psalm 25:12, 14) which is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). The word of God provides instructions for us about how to remedy the problem of sin, but we must humble ourselves before Him in order to receive that instruction.

The psalmist continued to explain that “the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth” (Psalm 25:10). God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), so His word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). Not only is His word true, but it is ultimately for our good. There are good blessings that come from following God’s word (Psalm 25:13) and negative consequences that are avoided by doing His will (Psalm 25:15). Today His word shows us the way to eternal life (John 6:68) and helps us to avoid eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

The Lord Provides Protection

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many, and they hate me with violent hatred. Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles” (Psalm 25:16-22).

The psalmist ended with an appeal to God to turn and be gracious to him (Psalm 25:16). There are several reasons why we – like the psalmist – need the Lord’s protection and help:

  • We may be “lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16), but the Lord has promised to be with us: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
  • We may have “troubles” and “distresses” (Psalm 25:17), yet the Lord has promised rest from those things that weary us. He offered the invitation: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
  • We may be afflicted by sin (Psalm 25:18); however, as we noticed earlier, the Lord provides forgiveness: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
  • We may face persecution from “enemies” (Psalm 25:19), but the Lord will save us. The church in Smyrna was told, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Like the psalmist, we must “take refuge” in the Lord (Psalm 25:20) and follow His word to maintain “integrity and uprightness” (Psalm 25:21). As Paul explained to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). His word shows us what is right and what we need to do to be pleasing to Him.

Conclusion

Without the Lord we would be lost, confused, and vulnerable; yet with Him we have forgiveness, instruction, and protection. Let us put our trust in God and surrender our lives to Him to do His will in all things.


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