My wife makes fun of me for the frequent times I turn to the end of an article or story—first. David understands.
I wonder if Cheryl would like David. In Psalm 25, we have to wait to the end to hear David’s soul cry. Right away we hear his affirmation of trust. He sings, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul” (25:1). But later we hear his plea, “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” (vss. 16-17).
In between David’s initial affirmation and lament is an extraordinary picture of God who is interested in us and able. He is: a willing teacher (vss. 4, 5), rich in mercies (v. 6), abundant in steadfast love (vss. 6, 10), inherently good (vss.7, 8), upright in His character and actions (v. 8), faithful to Himself and His followers (v. 10), worthy to be worshipped and followed (“fear”—reverential awe, v. 12), a friend for those who fear Him (v. 14), our protector (v. 15), and God who reveals His heart and ways in covenant (v.14). Let us not be timid or brash in our worship and prayers, nor doubtful about God’s heart, desire, and ability!
As the psalmists often do, David includes a heart check. Confession and repentance are essential, ordinary results of our wonder at God’s nature and works on our behalf. His prayer gives voice to our need, “For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (v. 11).
In this personal lament, David’s concern would rightly be applied personally. Yet his heartbeat is wider and he ends with prayer for God’s chosen people, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles” (v. 22). It is easy for us to focus on “me, myself, and I.” Our walk with Christ fully blossoms only as we live as part of the community of faith (then Israel; now the church) and with devotion and prayer to our home/nation (Cf. 1 Timothy 2; Hebrews 10:23-25). I need some adjustments here…
David’s long view is life for the reflection and increase of God’s reputation. Again, verse 11: “For your name’s sake, O LORD…” The fame of God is our fiercest motivation for it lovingly demands everything. The timeless, rich hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” brings Christ into our Psalm and heart:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
What is your soul’s heart cry? More importantly, is your God like David’s?