Let Me Not Be Ashamed: Psalm 25

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Psalm 25 (NIV)

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.

22 Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

Psalm 25 is another one of the acrostic psalms found in the Psalter. We noted with Psalm 9 that acrostics were used to reinforce four great themes. This psalm undergirds them all, but especially the recognition of the two paths and calling us to trust the character and nature of God. David’s “enemies have increased” (v. 19), and he longs for God to publicly set things right. Psalm 25 explores a world that is strange to the modern, Western reader. It is the world of honor and shame. Western cultures have typically emphasized the forensic or legal side of Christ’s work. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we have been declared not guilty before the great tribunal of God’s judgment throne. However, from the time of the fall in the garden of Eden we discover three great effects of sin: guilt, shame, and fear. All three of these are central to the human condition and are, therefore, central in the work of redemption.

In Psalm 25, David does not focus on his guilt, but his shame. “Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me” (v. 2) is the cry of this psalm. Guilt and innocence can be declared in private as we repent quietly in the presence of God. But shame and honor are about our life in the world—the public testimony of those around us. The psalmist longs for public vindication over those who oppose him. He cries, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame” (v. 3).

It is important to remember as we read this psalm (and others like it) that whenever a psalm declares that we are standing in the way of righteousness, it is not because they did not see themselves as sinners. Rather, it is precisely because they trusted in the covenant they were standing, in which was sealed and secured by a righteous God. This, too, is the basis of our final vindication before God.

The book of Revelation promises us that God will publicly vindicate his servants (Rev. 20:11–15). It is important to David not only that we are declared innocent before God, but that we are publicly honored before the eyes of those who have plotted our downfall. The psalmist is painfully aware of the “sins of [his] youth” (v. 7), but he has placed his trust in the Lord, and he longs to share in God’s honor before the nations. The psalm ends with the prayers, “Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you” (v. 20).

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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