Psalm 25, First Sunday of Lent, 21st February 2021

Psalm 25, First Sunday of Lent, 21st February 2021

Psalm 25, First Sunday of Lent, February 21st 2021.

Also Mark 1:9-15

God of every blessing. I invite you now to shape my soul with your words in the psalms and inspire my life with your works. Teach me to walk with you in your ways and teach me how to pray. Amen. 

In Lent we are preaching through the psalms set for each Sunday. We have just heard the prayer of David. A wonderful prayer I read out loud, a few days ago facing a situation, and found it captured much of what I wanted to say to God, the phrases, the ideas I found inspiring and helpful.

The Psalms are the only Book of the Bible directly formulated as human speech – God’s word is in fact words to God.  The Psalms model to us ways to talking with God.

Ways of talking that are honest but, perhaps not obvious ways in the eyes of many Christians. Psalms may guide our feet towards that deeper involvement with God that we all long for. Why? Because the psalms give us, show us, in the words of the old saints, of new possibilities for prayer. I believe, it is very helpful to from time to time, to read outloud the psalm – not just read it in your head. As you read it aloud, you begin to feel and hear the passion, the emotion, the words that resonate with you.

Psalms invite us to give full disclosure to God, they enable us to bring into conversation with God, the feelings and thoughts that most of us think we need to get rid of, before God will be interested in hearing from us.

Psalms – when we are open – really open – as we lift up our souls, as we open ourselves up before God in our hearts and minds, we open ourselves to the possibilities to be transformed.

An American theologian put it: ‘’The Psalms are a kind of First Amendment for the faithful!’’ They guarantee the freedom to speak, and they show us, give us models, how to exercise that freedom.

Martin Luther said: ‘the great value of the psalms is that it relates not only to the works and deeds of the saints. But also shows their words. The rest of Scripture relates examples of the actions, or behaviours of the saints. Many of those behaviours may be impossible to imitate. But Luther says: ‘’The psalter holds you to the communion of the saints…For it teaches you in joy, fear, hope, sorrow to think and to speak as all the saints have thought and spoken.’’ (Ellen Davis.)

Donald Coggan – former Archbishop of Canterbury wrote: ‘’we may be grateful for this psalm. It is intensely personal. We are allowed to overhear a man of God at his prayers, and that is a privilege. He has much that will help us, if we take our prayer life seriously.’’ (Coggan, Psalms).

Perhaps at this point, it is helpful to pause this recording.

Why not take up psalm 25 and to read it outloud once or twice.


It isn’t known when this is written by David. One theory places it when he is being pursued by King Saul; another would be many years later when he himself is King, facing threats around him. Regardless of whether it is a time when David is older, with many years of faith behind him; or whether he is in his 20s (David became king when 30), a man full of confidence at having been anointed to be God’s next king; when he had seen faith at full power so to speak with the victory over Goliath, and saw  God’s blessing upon him as victory after victory came to him as he led Israel’s armies.

In whichever these places he was in – young, older – he says   ‘’To you O Lord I lift up my soul, in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame. … No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.’’

‘No one will ever be put to shame…’

Shame. In Luke 9, after asking ‘who do people say I am?’, Jesus has revealed the Messiah Secret, that he is to suffer, be rejected, then be killed yet raised on the third. As he points to where Lent will lead us, he then says to the men he can called from those fishing boats at Galilee ‘’If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he come in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’’

But the word shame has another meaning which is what David means…

‘’ The biblical idea [for shame] is that of being let down or disappointed or of having trusted in something that in the end proves unworthy of our trust.[1]’’

We hear this in Romans 5:5 KJV says ‘’Hope maketh not ashamed.’’ The NIV translated that ‘And hope does not disappoint us.’’ Our hope as Christians will never and not be an illusion. David is saying, right at the start, whether he is young, or older, facing danger and challenges, ‘’those who have staked their all on God will not be abandoned by him in the end.[2]

Why would David even have a thought of being abandoned?

Well the first reason – he is surrounded by enemies. V2 and v19 ‘see how my enemies have increased, may they not triumph over me.’’  They do hold a real threat to him.

Secondly, David is mindful of his sins, he remembers past sins. The sins of his youth ‘v7), his inquity – v11 – and asking God to take away his sins – v18.

For us who are older, we can relate to these words of David.

When we were younger, perhaps we feared not very much at all or didn’t experience much opposition;

we weren’t aware of our sins, or what we are capable of. I can relate to that looking back, how I saw life, the world and my walk with God.

Now.We know our enemies. A world that we have experienced in life and work and relationships, is opposed to much of what we believe and what Jesus taught. The devil, who seeks to kill, steal and destroy, within our lives, as Jesus was tempted for 40 days, we face his attack as a roaring lion. And the enemy within – our sinful nature. We are a walking civil war as a Christian leader said –  ‘The Spirit and the sinful nature are in conflict with each other, so you do not do what you want’ as Paul tells the Galatians.

And at times we remember back to the ‘sins and rebellions’ of our past days…

What if the enemies will be too strong? What if they overcome us so we lose trust in God? What if God did remember all we have done, said and not done and was not willing to forgive or help us?

These could be thoughts that rattle within us.

If that happened, we would be put to shame, we would be abandoned.

But David knows that will not happen. He knows as he says ‘’no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.’’ His enemies instead will be put to shame.

How does this trust come?

To make it to the end, David needs God the great teacher, he needs to be continually instructed, taught. So he can walk in God’s way so that he runs the race while being a man of integrity and uprightness.   He says ‘ show me your ways… teach me … guide me’’ – all in the first 5 verses. He calls God the great teacher – the one who instructs sinners, the one who guides the humble, the one who teaches his way. Striking when you consider all he has seen of God. Despite all this, he sees himself still as a pupil, a learner, a disciple, as if he is at the end of chapter one of the great journey with God, than having already living many volumes of pages.

God will not let us down, he will not abandon us or disappoint us.

But ‘’this blessed truth of perseverance is not something that merely works itself out automatically or mechanically.

Rather, it is something that requires responsible learning, obedience, faithfulness, trust, and deep reverence on our part.[3]’’

David is praying for deliverance, but also to grow in God’s ways. He will not be put to shame. But he seeks God to teach him further. Which in turn will grow his trust and confidence.

God’s character.

We inspired by the God to whom he prays. The image of God we have, will inspire us, or perhaps dissuade us from praying.  David has confidence in prayer for he knows God’s character.

Let his words refresh you, as David’s view of God’s character soaks his prayer…

V3 – God is Faithful – for no-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.

V4-5 God is truth – for his paths are truth

V5 – God is his savior.

V6 – God is compassionate and steadfast / unfailingly loving

V10 – God is unfailingly loving,  David repeats, and God is faithful.

V11 – God is forgiving

V12 – God is open with his people ‘he confides in those who fear i.e. reverence him.’

V16 – God is gracious, merciful.

V15-20 – God is powerful to protect and to rescue.

God is faithful, he is truth, he is savior,

he is compassionate and unfailingly loving,

he is forgiving, he is open, he is gracious and merciful, he is powerful.

That is the God to whom he lifts up his soul. Is that your image of God?

Good and upright is the LORD.

You noticed, he declares two other words about God’s character. Good and upright – in v8.  We would maybe say, God is good and so merciful and gracious, and upright and just.

How can God be both good and upright, gracious and just? How can he be this for the world, for you and me. We understand that God can be good and therefore he wants to save us from our sins. That is why we pray to him to forgive us.

But how can God be just as he forgives? Doesn’t justice mean – to be upright – he must condemn us for our many sins…

The only answer is Jesus Christ, who satisfied God’s justice by taking our punishment in our place on the cross.

As we heard on Ash Wednesday : ‘’God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them … God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.’’

He took your sin upon him. His death satisfied God’s justice completely, allowing him to forget about our sins. And so he reaches out to save us graciously.

To quote those end verses of Micah 7 which Corrie Ten Boom would tell prisoners on death row. ‘’Who is a God like you who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry for ever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us, you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sin.’’  She would then add: and by that sea, God puts a sign. ‘’No fishing allowed.’’ If God has chucked it in, then don’t go getting it out, he has forgiven you. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…’’

Theologian Harry Ironside tells of visiting a very old Christian. The man was about ninety years old, and he had lived a godly life. However, in his last days he sent for Ironside because, as he expressed it, “Everything seems so dark.”

“Whatever do you mean?” asked Ironside. “You have known the Lord for nearly seventy years. You have lived for him a long, long time. You have helped others. Whatever do you mean ‘dark’?”

The man replied, “In my illness, since I have been lying here so weak, my memory keeps bringing up the sins of my youth, and I cannot get them out of my mind. They keep crowding in upon me, and I cannot help thinking of them. They make me feel miserable and wretched.”

Ironside turned to psalm 25 and read the verse in which David prays,

Remember not the sins of my youth

and my rebellious ways;

according to your love remember me,

for you are good, O Lord (Ps. 25:7).

After he had read the words he said, “When you came to God seventy years ago you confessed your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ. Do you remember what happened then?”

The old man couldn’t remember.

Ironside said, “Don’t you remember that when you confessed your sins God said, ‘Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.’ If God has forgotten them, why should you think about them?”

The man relaxed

and replied, “I am an old fool

remembering what God has forgotten.”

He found peace because he had been instructed in the nature of God and God’s ways.[4]

The Cross gives us confidence and reason for trust in prayer.  Romans 8:28-39 is one of the most beloved passages in the bible for some. Paul shares how we are each – as we heard Ironside remind the gentleman – we are justified in God’s eyes through the atoning death of Christ. But God’s work is not done – his intention, to continue working within us – in this life and the life to come, to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

Paul looks at the cross and God’s eternal plans, and declares ‘If Gods is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us – how will he not, along with him, graciously give us all things.’ He writes this to Christians under pressure or would face severe pressures soon. He concludes by saying – nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – yet he lists a whole bunch of things, suggesting these can come into the believers life.  So despite the difficulties, the cross and God’s purposes are ones we trust he is for us, in fact he somehow is at work in all things for our good, for we have been drawn to his son.


David’s Prayer.

As he faces challenges and threats, whether he is young or old, in beautiful words, he places his trust in God. He knows he will not be disappointed, he will not be put to shame. He holds a beautiful view of God’s character –

God is faithful, he is truth, he is savior,

he is compassionate and unfailingly loving,

he is forgiving, he is open, he is gracious and merciful, he is powerful.

He is good, he is upright and just.

That is the God to whom he lifts up his soul.

Yet he seeks God to show more of his ways and truth so he can grow further in his trust and confidence.

To return to that Donald Coggan quote: ‘’we may be grateful for this psalm. It is intensely personal. We are allowed to overhear a man of God at his prayers, and that is a privilege. He has much that will help us, if we take our prayer life seriously.’’ (Coggan, Psalms).

Shall we pray?

[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 223). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 224). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 225). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 226–227). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.