Monday, May 25, 2015

Psalm 25 - Renew the Soul

And I will give you a new heart,
and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart
and give you a tender, responsive heart.
Ezekiel 36:26
1In You, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2I trust in You;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3No one who hopes in You
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
4Show me Your ways, Lord,
teach me Your paths.
5Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are God my Savior,
and my hope is in You all day long.
6Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to Your love remember me,
for You, Lord, are good.
8Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore He instructs sinners in his ways.
9He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.
10All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.
11For the sake of Your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.b
13They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14The Lord confides in those who fear Him;
He makes His covenant known to them.
15My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only He will release my feet from the snare.
16Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
20Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in You.
21May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord,c is in You.
22Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

In a world where nothing and no one can be trusted, and with a worldview that demands that I don’t “trust” anything I can’t see, taste, touch, hear or smell, it seems impossible to trust in God. 

Yet I am made to trust in God. It’s my fallen condition that keeps me unable to make this a reality in my life. This is what the fall does; it forces me to act in ways that are unnatural, and subsequently lays the foundation for my fear and neurosis. I desire to be satisfied, to feel secure, and to have an understanding of “why?” But I stumble because I begin my search in a worldview that can’t trust, and can’t believe. 

It’s scary to place myself in the vulnerable position of trusting someone or something. I spoil my relationships or would-be relationships because of fear and insecurity. I continually damage my spiritual life, because I want to control it. Psalm 25 is a prayer of trust that looks to Yahweh for guidance, sustenance and identity.

My desires are what kills me when they are given the ultimate position in my heart, replacing the only God that I am created to serve and worship. Misplaced desires cause hurt, anxiety, depression, fears, etc. When I place my trust in something other than God, I will be let down. My desires have been graciously given to me by God, so my goal isn’t to rid myself of desires but to place them in the proper place of enjoyment, and use them to point me to be thankful to God 

Romans 14:22-23 provides insight: "You may believe there's nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don't feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning."

Shame is a result of not trusting in God. There will be no shame for those who trust in God (Romans 9:33; 10:11; Isaiah 49:23; 28:16). Why is David writing this? What is causing His shame and his fear of being abandoned by God?

First, “enemies” here are real, but not necessarily enemies of flesh and blood. My enemies are spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). Enemies are found in world systems (1 John 2:15) and an enemies can be myself (Matthew 15:19; Romans 5:12). No matter if I am in Christ or not, enemies constantly surround me. My enemies constantly preach to me, “You aren’t good enough!” or “God isn’t good enough. He only wants His own glory, and doesn’t care about you!” There’s always another piece of fruit that will make you wise, smart, successful and satisfied!

Secondly, David is grossly aware of his sins before God. Both of these (my enemies and my sin) can keep me from trusting in God. They force me to look at my life from a different perspective, and question if God is good enough to trust with my life.

In Psalm 25 there is a standard prayer asking God (Yahweh) to be my leader (Psalm 139:23-24). This is an acknowledgment that I am incapable of leading myself; that I need to re-direct my desire to lead myself and give it to God. This is the heart of the gospel (1 John 1:7-9). 

Coming to God involves dying to self, recognizing God’s sovereignty, repenting from my sins, (which means an agreement that God is right and I am wrong) and turning to Him in trust that He is in control.

Part of coming to God involves asking for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). I have sinned against God (Luke 15:18-19) but when I come to Him with a humble heart He is faithful to forgive me. David is not setting up a distinction between himself and his enemies; he is well aware of his own transgressions, and realizes how those sinful tendencies provoke the issues he has with his enemies.

True confession and an understanding of my sin should always result in praise (Luke 7:44-47). My praise cannot be manufactured, but ought to be an overflow of the joy I have in Christ because of the great grace and mercy He has shown me! Psalm 25:11 shows me a great desire to make His name great, and not mine.

My identity shifts when I seek God out and ask for forgiveness. God either is seen as a judge who will hurt me, or as a friend who loves me. This perspective changes as my identity in Him changes. When I realize that He is my friend and that He is good and loves me, it changes my actions and motivation (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). To those who aren’t being saved by the grace of God, His judgment is an appalling and fearful reality; there is no wonder why someone would want to deny His existence.

Psalm 25 (like much of the wisdom literature in the bible) contrasts those who are wicked with those who are righteous. The contrast has little to do with the individual’s character and much to do with whom the individual puts his/hers trust. 

As one commentator writes, “The essence of the road to righteousness is this; it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God.” 

Walking with God and growing in that walk begins and ends with whom I am walking. I trust Him to guide me correctly, even when it seems like the wrong way to go. Trust is a hard thing for my sinful humanity! But it is the thing that I am called to do, and the thing that will renew my soul. David wrote another prayer of renewal in Psalm 51:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.(vv9-12)