Growing up means trying new things—and for my now-seven-month-old grandson, Josiah, that means solids like rice cereal. Title this “pfftt!” As I care for him while his parents work, I’ve re-discovered the importance of multiple learning experiences. Feedings, books, walks, lap play and songs keep his day rolling along plus provide teachable moments. And then there are the blessed naps! This granny sneaks onto the bed next to his crib and catches some winks, too.
In thinking about Psalm 25, the word “teachable” rises to the top. It’s about enemies lining our way, and God’s honor, but it’s also about how we grow up from spiritual infancy. Like many psalms, this one is subtitled simply, “of David.” It’s one of nine “acrostic” psalms (according to the Hebrew alphabet), of which Psalm 119 is the crown jewel of poetic perfection. It became a sing-able psalm in our generation, thanks to the music arrangement given the first two verses by Maranatha! Music in the 1970s. Maybe you can recall the tune, set to words of the King James version:Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. (repeat)
O my God, I trust in thee:
Let me not be afraid, let not my enemies triumph over me.
The overall message of Psalm 25 is growing spiritually through life’s hard places, whether they’re the result of our choices or from living in a sinful, fallen world. I almost wonder if David’s reference to those “who are treacherous without cause” (v. 3) stemmed from the time he almost let anger push him into treachery. The incident, recorded in 1 Samuel 25, happened during his years on the run from King Saul. He and his band of warriors supported themselves, as was the custom, by providing freelance police protection for local farmers and ranchers. One of them was Nabal, who lived out the meaning of his name: “fool.” Stingy and arrogant, Nabal wasn’t going to part with a dime for these vigilantes, and David was incensed.
As David and his crew headed to Nabal’s spread to teach him a bloody lesson, Nabal’s beautiful and wise wife, Abigail, intercepted them with food and a plea to think about how David’s anger wasn’t the best response. “Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live,” she said (1 Samuel 25:28). She knew he’d been designated the next king, and he’d regret carrying out this plan. Her wisdom worked. Amazingly, Nabal suddenly died apart from David’s sword. And Abigail was taken into David’s household.
When he became king, David found himself in similar circumstances. He had enemies bent on taking down him and the nation he led. It was an overwhelming responsibility. How could he, a mere man—albeit chosen by God—accomplish it all? Only by the help of God. Only by being teachable and learning God’s ways. Only by trusting God to keep “growing” him, taming the immature rashness as he learned to walk with God. Psalm 25 is peppered with “teach” and its synonyms: show, guide, instruct. As we’re obedient to God, as He speaks through prayer, scripture, and the teaching and counsel of godly people, that spiritual growth takes place.
Growth also requires an honest look at our sins. David knew well his failings—the “sins of my youth and my rebellious ways” (v. 7). He asked God to “forgive my iniquity, though it is great” (v. 11). Rather than dumping us for our failures, God works with us:Good and upright in the LORD;
Therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. (v. 8)
Perhaps the better word of this process is “surrender.” A young single woman I know, in her early thirties, is trusting God for everything as she ministers to at-risk children in
“Shame” is also key word for Psalm 25. It’s used three times in the first three verses and again at the end (v. 20). In the Hebrew (bosh), it has a particular meaning that’s different from our concept of being ashamed or embarrassed about something, like our own failures. The idea is more “to be disappointed” because something proved unworthy of your trust. It’s more the idea expressed in Romans 5:5: “Hope maketh not ashamed” (KJV) or “Hope does not disappoint us” (NIV). If we walk through life trusting in God—no matter the scoffers who line the roads with their futile “designer” religions—He will vindicate us in the end. We need never be ashamed of following Christ, because all other routes to God are dead ends.
Someday, I’m hoping my infant grandson will understand that, and put his trust in Jesus as Savior. My job as “Grandma” is to represent the loving arms of God, and to pray that someday he will say, as did David, “In you I trust, O my God” (v. 1).
Next time: Psalm 27
(1) Oswald Chambers, Devotions for a Deeper Life (Zondervan, 1986, p. 225).