Friday June 5, 2020
Psalm 25:4-10 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
We all have felt lost at times. Sometimes it is because we have missed a signpost while travelling and ended up at some unknown and unfamiliar location. Maybe it was a time when a decision needed to be made and there seemed to be no answer to prayers for guidance and discernment. Or perhaps a decision was made by following what seemed to be God’s direction, but the outcome was not right and there seemed to be no way to remedy it.
Feeling lost is nothing new. David, the writer of this psalm, felt separated from God, lost in the wilderness, and without direction several times in his life. David’s life was filled with ups and downs. He went from being the youngest and least of several brothers, relegated to tending sheep, to being a bold and crucial fighter who felled an enemy champion, Goliath, with a slingshot and a stone. He went from that shepherd boy to being anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king over Israel. He went from being one of King Saul’s favorite companions to being hunted by this same king who wanted to kill him because God’s favor left Saul and was bestowed on David. He went from being a beloved king to being hunted by one of his sons.
And the list could go on – there is much, much more to his story. Trouble was a part of his family relationships and his reign throughout his life. David must have felt abandoned by his family, his companions, even his God at various times in his life. It must have been hard for David to remember that God had called him “a man after God’s own heart” even though this remained true. No other person in the Bible was ever referred to in this way. David was truly special to God.
Even with all of his difficulties, along with his many failures to do God’s will – those times he turned away from God’s leading – David never doubted God’s presence with him. David always knew that God would hear his prayers. He may have felt lost or abandoned, without direction, but that never made him feel that God was absent. David’s reliance on God is abundantly clear in this psalm. It is a confident prayer for forgiveness and guidance. David asks God to show him the right path, to point out the road he should follow. He desires to be led by God’s truth and teachings. He proclaims that God is the One who saves him and for this reason he can place his hope in God.
David reminds himself (and us) that our God is filled with compassion and unfailing love for us. And not just for us, but for all peoples in all times, past, present, and future. He asks God not to remember the wrong things he has done. He asks for forgiveness and believes this will happen because God is loving and merciful.
David continues to give honor to God, reminding himself (and us) that God is good and right and will show those who go astray the proper path. Then he makes and interesting comment – God will lead the humble in doing right. The word translated here as “humble” can also translated as meek. This brings to mind one of the beatitudes: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It certainly sounds like it is a good thing to be meek and humble. Both of these words in today’s world are used to characterize someone who does not see themselves as important; they have a low estimate of themselves. In today’s world these words are words that express little power or significance.
However, in this psalm being humble or meek did not have this modern meaning. Instead, while their synonyms were then, as now – respectful and deferential – humble people then, not like now, could be very strong, both in body and in mind. It was a very good thing to be humble because such a person was teachable. In God’s eyes, humble people were willing to do things God’s way. In the beatitude about the meek, Jesus teaches that these folks are blessed. Blessed can be translated as “happy.” It can also be translated as “God will be good to.” By combining these two verses, we can conclude that God will be good to those who are willing to learn from God.
David reminds us in the final verse of today’s scripture that we are in a covenant relationship with God. This, too, is an important concept. Covenant is not a word often used today in everyday conversation. Yet we do hear this word at weddings – marriage is a covenant between two people. In general, covenant conveys the idea of two sides coming together in mutual understanding. Covenants are usually bilateral, meaning that the two sides are equal. That is why marriage can be characterized as a covenant while an employment agreement cannot be seen in this way.
Here though, the covenant David describes is a covenant initiated by God; it is God’s covenant with God’s people. This is not a bilateral agreement since the two sides are not equal; it is unilateral. God initiated this covenant, decided on the terms of the covenant, and chose to be part of such a covenant with us. We are the recipients of this agreement rather than contributors. We are called to accept this covenant as God offered it, to follow its terms, and then to receive the outcome – being blessed – “God will be good to.”
That never should be taken as insurance against bad things happening to us. If we look at David’s life, we can see that even someone as favored by God as David disappointed God at times and had a life that brought difficulties and pain to him. Throughout his life, however, David never doubted that God was with him, listening to his prayers. We have that same assurance. But with even more confidence since God has given us Jesus as teacher and Savior and the Holy Spirit as comforter and paraclete – one who has our back. In these difficult days, let us rely on God’s guidance and forgiveness, just as David did again and again. Thanks be to God!
-Pastor Joyce Donigian