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Psalm 25

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Prayer for Protection, Guidance and Pardon A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer for Guidance and Protection Prayer in Danger
(Acrostic)
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
25:1-3  25:1-3 25:1-2 25:1-3 25:1-2a (Aleph)
        25:2b (Bet)
        25:3 (Gimel)
    25:3    
25:4-7 25:4-5 25:4-5 25:4-5 25:4 (Dalet)
        25:5 (He)
  25:6-7 25:6-7 25:6-7 25:6c-7 (Waw)
        25:6 (Zain)
        25:7 (Het)
25:8-11 25:8-11 25:8-10 25:8-10 25:8 (Tet)
        25:9 (Yod)
        25:10 (Kaph)
    25:11-15 25:11-14 25:11 (Lamed)
25:12-15 25:12-15     25:12 (Mem)
        25:13 (Nun)
        25:14 (Samek)
      25:15-18 25:15 (Ain)
25:16-22 25:16-21 25:16-18   25:16 (Pe)
        25:17 (Zade)
        25:18 (Qoph)
    25:19-21 25:19-21 25:19 (Resh)
        25:20 (Shin)
        25:21 (Taw)
  25:22 25:22 25:22 25:22

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is an acrostic (cf. NJB's strophes). However, two letters are missing and two are doubled (Jewish Study Bible, p. 1309).

 

B. It is dominated by emphatic prayer requests.

1. cohortatives

a. v. 2 — "do not let me be ashamed," BDB 101, KB 116, Qal cohortative (this root is used four times in this Psalm; it is not so much embarrassment as it is the exposure of faithlessness)

b. v. 20 — "do not let me be ashamed, same as a., but Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense (inclusio)

2. imperfects used in a jussive sense

a. v. 2 — "do not let my enemies exult over me, BDB 763, KB 836, Qal imperfect

b. v. 7 — "do not remember the sins," BDB 269, KB 269, Qal imperfect (this root is used three times in Ps. 25:6-7)

c. v. 21 — "let integrity and uprightness preserve me," BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperfect

3. imperatives

a. v. 4 — "make me know Your Ways," BDB 393, KB 390, Hiphil

b. v. 4 — "teach me Your paths," BDB 540, KB 531, Piel

c. v. 5 — "lead me in Your truth," BDB 201, KB 231, Hiphil

d. v. 5 — "teach me," same as b.

e. v. 6 — "remember," BDB 269, KB 268, Qal

f. v. 7 — "remember," same as e.

g. v. 16 — "turn to me," BDB 815, KB 937, Qal

h. v. 16 — "be gracious to me," BDB 335, KB 334, Qal

i. v. 17 — "bring me out of my distress," BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil

j. v. 18 — "look upon my affliction," BDB 906, KB1157, Qal

k. v. 18 — "forgive all my sin," BDB 669, KB 1157, Qal

l. v. 19 — "look upon my enemies," same as j.

m. v. 20 — "guard my soul," BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal

n. v. 20 — "deliver me," BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil

o. v. 22 — "redeem Israel," BDB 804, KB 911, Qal

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:1-3
 1To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 2O my God, in You I trust,
 Do not let me be ashamed;
 Do not let my enemies exult over me.
 3Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
 Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

25:1-3 The psalmist fears being ashamed by his enemies but in the midst of his fear he expresses his faith in YHWH's promised victory.

He characterizes himself as one who

1. lifts his soul to YHWH — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect, which denotes continual action (cf. Ps. 86:4; 143:8)

2. trusts in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, which denotes a settled action/condition

3. waits for YHWH — BDB 875, KB 1082, Qal participle, AB (p. 155) suggests it is from another root with the same letters that means "to call" or "to invoke"

Because of this he is confident that he will not be

a. ashamed (inclusio, cf. Ps. 25:20; 31:1)

b. exulted over (cf. Ps. 41:11)

but that his enemies will be (cf. Ps. 25:3b). In a sense those who trust in YHWH are witnesses of His character (see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD at Ps. 9:10b). How they live and trust gives powerful evidence of the reality and character of YHWH.

25:3

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, REB"without cause"
NRSV, LXX"wantonly"
NJB"groundlessly"
JPSOA"disappointed, empty-handed"
NET Bible"thwarted"
Peshitta"vanity"

This adjective (BDB 938, KB 1229) can be understood in two ways.

1. without cause (cf. Ps. 7:4)

2. to no effect (cf. Isa. 55:11; Jer. 50:9)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:4-7
 4Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
 Teach me Your paths.
 5Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
 For You are the God of my salvation;
 For You I wait all the day.
 6Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
 For they have been from of old.
 7Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
 According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
 For Your goodness' sake, O Lord.

25:4-7 Notice the string of powerful emphatic imperatives which requests YHWH's action on behalf of the one who trusts in Him. 

1. know (BDB 393, KB 390, Hiphil imperative) His ways (BDB 202, cf. Ps. 25:4,8,9,12)

2. teach (BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative) him His paths (BDB 73, cf. Ps. 25:4,10)

3. lead (BDB 201, KB 231, Hiphil imperative) him in His truth (BDB 54, see Special Topic at Psalm 12:1)

4. teach (BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative) me

The one who trusts (and waits, Ps. 25:5c, 21b) wants to know YHWH in both personal fellowship and revelatory truth. Based on this truth and lifestyle obedience, he then requests that YHWH

1. remember His character (cf. Ps. 25:7b,c), see Special Topic at Ps. 9:10b

a. compassion — BDB 933 (Ps. 25:5)

b. lovingkindness — BDB 338 (cf. Ps. 25:6,7, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7)

c. goodness — BDB 375 (Ps. 25:7)

2. do not remember the sins (BDB 308) of his youth (cf. Job 13:26)

3. do not remember his transgressions (BDB 833)

 

24:4 "ways. . .paths" The revelatory truths of YHWH were viewed as a well marked/worn road or trail (see note at Ps. 1:1). There was no confusion about what to do, only the need for obedience to the well-marked path (cf. Ps. 139:24). God's path is often described as level, straight, unobstructed, clearly visible.

24:6 "For they have been from of old" The psalmist is asking YHWH to act towards him (and Israel, cf. Ps. 25:22) in the consistent ways that He has displayed in the past (cf. Ps. 89:49). In essence the psalmist wants the covenant God to remember His covenant promises. He has acted in the past, now please act again for Your people and purposes. Even though the psalmist and Israel have sinned foolishly, please let Your covenant love (hesed, i.e., covenant loyalty) and Your basic character (i.e., goodness and mercy, cf. Ps. 23:6), forgive the humble sinner (cf. Ps. 25:8-11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:8-11
 8Good and upright is the Lord;
 Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
 9He leads the humble in justice,
 And He teaches the humble His way.
 10All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
 To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
 11For Your name's sake, O Lord,
 Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

25:8-11 Many of the key words and concepts from Ps. 25:4-7 are repeated in this strophe. Remember this is an acrostic psalm. All of the psalmist's poetic license and creativity are being used.

1. 25:8a extols YHWH's character, as did Ps. 25:6,7

a. good (BDB 373)

b. upright (BDB 449)

2. 25:8b-9 again mention YHWH's teaching and leading, as did Ps. 25:4-5

The two added thoughts are the descriptive words about the one taught and led.

1. sinners (BDB 308), Ps. 25:8

2. humble (BDB 776), Ps. 25:9 (twice)

The paths of YHWH are characterized as

1. lovingkindness (cf. Ps. 25:6,7)

2. truth (cf. Ps. 25:5)

 

25:10 "paths. . .testimonies" See SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION at Psalm 1:2.

▣ "to those who keep His covenant" Notice the emphasis, not just on knowledge (cf. Ps. 25:4-5) but obedience (cf. Deut. 5:10; 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1,13,22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6,16,20; Ps. 103:18). Obedience is not the mechanism of acceptance and forgiveness, which is YHWH but the result of meeting Him and being informed of His will. Jesus said it so well in Luke 6:46, also note Eph. 2:8-9 and then 1:4; 2:10. Grace is always first (cf. Ps. 25:11)! It is received by faith but it is a faith that must be lived out (cf. James 2:14-26).

▣ "covenant" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT (ברית)

25:11 Any hope of forgiveness is based on the unchanging character of YHWH (cf. Ps. 102:26-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:10b) and His Messiah (cf. Heb. 13:8). It is because of His name and character (cf. Ps. 79:9).

▣ "for it is great" Once we know the character of God (i.e., holiness, cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48) and the truth of God, our sins and their consequences become more evident to us. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 3) brought a revelation of our rebellion and its consequences!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:12-15
 12Who is the man who fears the Lord?
 He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
 13His soul will abide in prosperity,
 And his descendants will inherit the land.
 14The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
 And He will make them know His covenant.
 15My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
 For He will pluck my feet out of the net.

25:12-15 As in strophes 4-7 and 8-11, the same themes continue here. Notice how the faithful follower is characterized.

1. he fears YHWH, Ps. 25:12,14, cf. Ps. 15:4; 103:11,13; 115:11; 118:4

2. he knows YHWH's covenant, Ps. 25:14

3. his eyes are continually toward YHWH, Ps. 25:15

Notice what YHWH will do for him.

1. He will instruct him in the way, Ps. 25:12, cf. Ps. 16:11; 139:24

2. He will provide good (BDB 373) for him and his descendants, Ps. 25:13

3. He reveals to him His truths, Ps. 25:14

4. He will keep his feet on the path and out of harm, Ps. 25:15

 

25:12 "choose" There is a theological balance in the Bible between the sovereign acts of YHWH and His demand that humans choose Him and His ways (cf. Deut. 30:15,19; Jos. 24:14-15). We are responsible for our choices! See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance

25:14

NASB, NKJV,
NJB"secret"
NRSV"friendship"
TEV"friend"
LXX"empowerment"
JPSOA"counsel"
REB"confides"

The Hebrew word (BDB 691, KB 745) can mean (cf. Job 15:8; Ps. 111:1)

1. confidential discussion — Job 29:4; Ps. 55:14

2. secret counsel — Job 15:8; Pro. 11:13; 20:19; 25:9

3. circle of confidants — Ps. 89:7; Jer. 15:17; 23:18,22

These connotations are fluid and interchangeable. There is a special consultation, fellowship, and impartation of knowledge between the covenant God and His faithful followers.

25:15 As YHWH's eyes (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:4-6) are continuously on those who fear Him and obey Him, so too, the faithful continue to be faithful by keeping their full and focused attention on Him (cf. Heb. 12:2)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 25:16-22
 16Turn to me and be gracious to me,
 For I am lonely and afflicted.
 17The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
 Bring me out of my distresses.
 18Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
 And forgive all my sins.
 19Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
 And they hate me with violent hatred.
 20Guard my soul and deliver me;
 Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.
 21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
 For I wait for You.
 22Redeem Israel, O God,
 Out of all his troubles.

25:16-21 This strophe documents the psalmist's problems.

1. I am lonely

2. I am afflicted

3. his heart has troubles

4. he is in distress

5. his enemies are many

6. they hate him with violent rage

7. he fears shame

In light of these things he asks YHWH

1. to turn to him (i.e., pay attention to him, cf. Ps. 69:16; 86:16)

2. to be gracious to him

3. to look upon/know his problems

4. to forgive His sins (cf. Ps. 25:18; Ps. 32:1; 51:2; 103:3)

5. to guard his soul (cf. Ps. 86:2)

6. to deliver him

His reasons for YHWH doing these things for him are

1. he takes refuge in YHWH

2. he asserts either his or YHWH's integrity and uprightness (because of Ps. 25:18b it is best to see these as characteristics of YHWH. AB (p. 159) suggests they are personified agents of YHWH)

3. he waits for YHWH (cf. Ps. 25:3)

 

25:22 I think this is a separate closing statement (one verse beyond the acrostic pattern). The King represents the people. This is the psalmist's final prayer request and it is national in scope. Redeem (BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative, see Special Topic at Ps. 19:14) Your covenant people (i.e., "Israel"), for Your eternal redemptive purposes (see Special Topic at Introduction to Psalm 2).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the prayer requests of verses 4-7.

2. List the psalmist's problem in verses 16-21.

3. How would you summarize the message of this Psalm?

4. How would you apply this Psalm to your life?