The Alphabet of Trust
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I [have unwavering] trust [and I rely on You with steadfast confidence],Do not let me be ashamed or my hope in You be disappointed;Do not let my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, none of those who [expectantly] wait for You will be ashamed;Those who turn away from what is right and deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed (humiliated, embarrassed). Let me know Your ways, O Lord;Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me,For You are the God of my salvation;For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long. Remember, O Lord, Your [tender] compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,For they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;According to Your lovingkindness remember me,For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord;Therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice,And He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulnessTo those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord,Pardon my wickedness and my guilt, for they are great. Who is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with submissive wonder]?He will teach him [through His word] in the way he should choose. His soul will dwell in prosperity and goodness,And his descendants will inherit the land. The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him,And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning. My eyes are continually toward the Lord,For He will bring my feet out of the net. Turn to me [Lord] and be gracious to me,For I am alone and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are multiplied;Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble,And forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many;They hate me with cruel and violent hatred. Guard my soul and rescue me;Do not let me be ashamed or disappointed,For I have taken refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness protect me,For I wait [expectantly] for You. O God, redeem Israel,Out of all his troubles.
David spoke and wrote in the Hebrew language, which has twenty-two letters in the alphabet rather than our twenty six. Psalm 25 finds him in a low moment when he is thinking and praying through A to Z of his pain. Thus, with only minor omissions, each of the twenty-two verses of Psalm 25 begins with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Most all the woe we experience in life can be summarized in two categories: the harm others have done to us and the harm we have done to ourselves. David’s litany of pain alternates between the two. His exterior problems press hard against him, but on the inside he wrestles with his own sin, guilt, and shame.
How do you cope when your circumstances are difficult and/or you feel you have completely failed the Lord, others and even yourself? David prays.
Psalm 25 opens with an expression of trust: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Our soul can experience many emotions. It can be cast down, in anguish, poured out, or lifted up. David in Psalm 25 employees the latter.
However, lifting up our soul in relinquishment and worship is not enough, we must also be instructed: “Show me your ways….teach me your paths….guide me in your truth.”
We often ask: “Will God think of me today? Will He indeed be my Savior and hope?” Like David, we can bank on the nature of God for an affirmative answer: because He remembers His own holy character of mercy and love, therefore He remembers not the wrong we have done.
George Wood says, “The Lord instructs sinners and guides the humble. He forgives- not just because I need it- but because He is good and upright. David celebrates the Lord who remains faithful, loving, and forgiving at all times. Problems either drive us to the Lord or away from Him. When we come to Him out of brokenness, trusting in His mercy, we become persons who fear the Lord. He then promises to instruct us, prosper us, and bring security to our descendants.”
Only prayer brings moments of respite to our spirits. When our eyes move off the Lord, our solutions prove to be no solutions at all- just pain and hardship. We will never get out of our trap until we focus on Him. There are times when that’s easier said than done for we hurt so badly that deep pain can penetrate even our highest moments of trustful prayer.
From the opening words of trust in the beginning of the psalm, David’s emotions plunge again at the end of the psalm. He moves back and forth between his confidence in God and the struggles with his own feelings. However, after every emotional downward turn he bounces right back with a new expression of trust.
No one but God can guard and rescue. These are not the same for there is a difference between the two: guarded means security in the midst of danger; rescued means to be snatched out of peril. These are not the same act. Sometimes the Lord rescues us from a desperate circumstance, but if not, we may be sure that He is guarding us in the circumstance.
God can heal us and give us peace on the inside even if we’re not immediately delivered on the outside. This is the case with David. He is extremely conscious of his rebellion and great sins, but through genuine confession the Lord has placed integrity and uprightness into his life. We, too, can have good hearts even in the midst of great hurts.
Genuine relationship with Gods results in unselfishness. David realizes that he is not alone in sorrow so he prays, “Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles.” Daniel and Nehemiah, to name two, also were moved not only by their own sorrows but also those of the people of Israel. We who are the children of God are not only concerned about our struggles but also the struggles of those around us. We know that the God who hears and comes to our aid will also hear and rush to those we pray for.
George Wood says, “I keep a written list of persons I pray for daily. One part of that list is reserved for persons who have far more pressing needs than my own. Remembering them in prayer helps me keep perspective and avoid the self-pity of “nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.”
Psalm 25 begins with David’s prayer focused on his personal need and ends with his concern for Gods people. Our alphabet prayer is complete when we, like David engage in intercession for others.
Dr. John Thompson