"Let No One Who Waits on You Be Ashamed" (Psalms 25-27) June 20-22
Psalm 25 begins "a group of nine psalms [ending with Psalm 33] containing an unusual (even for the Psalter) concentration of pleas for 'mercy' (25:16; 26:11; 27:7; 28:2; 30:8, 10; 31:9) accompanied by professions of 'trust' (25:2; 26:1; 27:3; 28:7; 31:6, 14; 32:10; 33:21) and appeals to or celebrations of Yahweh's '(unfailing) love' (25:6-7, 10; 26:3; 31:7, 16, 21; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22). The series begins with an alphabetic acrostic prayer for God's saving help (Ps 25) and culminates in a 22-verse (the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet) hymn of praise for Yahweh's sovereign rule and saving help (Ps 33)" (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalms 25-33).
Structurally, Psalm 25 itself "is an alphabetic acrostic (somewhat irregular, with an additional, concluding verse that extends the lines beyond the alphabet). It is composed of four unequal stanzas (of three, four, eight and six verses). The first and fourth stanzas are thematically related, as are the second and third (an a-b/b-a pattern)" (note on Psalm 25).
"David prays for God's covenant mercies when suffering affliction for sins [verses 11, 18] and when enemies seize the occasion to attack [verses 2, 19], perhaps by trying to discredit the king through false accusations" (same note). This is a theme we have seen before. The prospect of experiencing shame from an enemy triumph concerns David greatly—he mentions "shame" four times in the psalm. Shame should not befall those who hope and trust in God but should fall instead on people who decide to "deal treacherously without a cause" (verse 3). "Shame is the intended end of the enemies of God (35:26)...not of the faithful" (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 1-2).
David declares that because God is good and upright, He teaches sinners in His way (verse 8). But this is not so they can continue to live in sinful defiance of Him. Rather, He works with those who are humble and obedient (verses 9, 12). He will teach them a way of life characterized by justice, mercy, truth and prosperity (verses 8-10, 13). As Ezra 8:22 tells us, "The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him."
In summarizing his afflictions and troubles, David reminds God that his foes are cruel and he needs deliverance (verses 17-20). He concludes the psalm with a respectful declaration of hope, the same hope with which he began: "I wait for you" (verse 21; compare verse 3).
Even in this prayer for mercy and help for himself personally, David is not forgetful of others. In verse 22, which is outside the acrostic pattern of the psalm, he concludes with an intercessory prayer for his people. "David petitions the Lord to be compassionate with the nation Israel just as he has been with David. The Lord was not only the personal Savior of David, but also the Savior of all the Israelites" (Nelson, note on verse 22). Here, as in other references to Israel in the Psalms, we may look beyond the physical nation to the chosen people of God—ultimately all those who constitute spiritual Israel even if physically from other nations (see Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16).
Psalm 26 is a protest of innocence (verses 1, 6, 11) in which David asks God to thoroughly investigate him: "Examine my heart and my mind" (verse 2, NIV). It could be that he was facing some false accusations from others at this point as in the next psalm, though it is possible that he simply saw his life in jeopardy due to illness or enemies and was pleading with God to not allow him to be destroyed with the punishment due the wicked. He explains the pattern of his life—not sinless, but consistent: "I walk continually in your truth" (verse 3) and "I lead a blameless life" (verse 11). The Expositor's Bible Commentary notes that David "is not thinking about [only] two aspects of his life: spiritual and intellectual or emotional and rational. Rather, he offers himself completely for a total examination."
David aligns his life with two purposes: to worship God—"so I will go about your altar, O Lord," (verse 6)—and to tell about God's wonderful works (verse 7). David speaks of his integrity in the sense of pursuing the expectations God has for him. He strives to do things that please God and avoid the things God hates (verses 3-8). The apostle Peter states that God has similar expectations for Christians today. Just as David proclaimed God's wondrous works with thanksgiving, we are to show forth God's praises now (1 Peter 2:9-10; compare Psalm 26:7).
Because David walks with integrity and trusts God, he stands on level ground (verse 12). David's appreciation of an even place calls to mind Christ's teaching on the importance of laying a foundation on good, solid ground (Matthew 7:24-25).
Psalm 27 is a psalm of confidence and trust. David uses the words "light" and "salvation" to describe his relationship with God. "Light indicates deliverance from darkness (Gen. 1:3), which is a biblical symbol of evil. The word salvation combined with the word light means 'saving light'" (Nelson Study Bible, note on Psalm 27). Like a lighthouse beacon, God shines through the darkness and shows us the way to go. David won't fear when the wicked come against him, because the Almighty God is His guiding light and defending strength (verse 1). Though surrounded by an entire army of hostile forces, David says, "...even then will I be confident" (verse 3, NIV).
Come what may, David's chief desire is to dwell in God's house forever (verse 4; compare 23:6). David wrote this before the physical "house of the Lord," the Jerusalem temple, was built. The "temple" in the same verse likely refers to God's temple in heaven—into which David may come through prayer. However, the tabernacle of David's time may have been in view in part, as that was the manner through which God then dwelt among His people. There is a mention of God's "pavilion" and "tabernacle" in verse 5—of figuratively being hidden away in God's tent when trouble comes (compare 31:20). The wording would seem to imply seeking God in His tabernacle in the midst of adversity and finding divine protection there. (Some, it should be noted, relate this to God's people being protected during the Great Tribulation at the end of the age.) Verse 6 of Psalm 27 refers to offering sacrifices at the tabernacle.
Yet by dwelling in God's house David ultimately meant something more than the physical tabernacle and temple. As with Christians now, dwelling in the house of the Lord means being part of God's very family—and living forever in His Kingdom. Even in verse 6, offering sacrifices at the tabernacle seems to point, at least in an ultimate sense, to worshiping God for all eternity as part of His household.
David next pleads with God to respond to his prayers (verse 7)—to not hide Himself (verse 9)—because David is faithfully seeking Him as God has commanded (verse 8; see Deuteronomy 4:29-31). There is no indication that David's parents ever abandoned him. But in that unlikely event, David declares that God "will take care of me" (verse 10). Certainly this applied not only to David but to all people who serve God, even today. Abandonment could mean complete absence or just emotional detachment—for various reasons. We should consider that Jesus warned there would be family splits, even from father and mother, for the sake of God's Kingdom—but gave encouragement that God would bless us with other spiritual relations in this life and greatly reward us in the age to come (compare Matthew 10:34-36; 19:29).
David's plea in Psalm 27:11 that God lead him in a smooth path because of his enemies recalls the imagery in Psalm 23 of the Shepherd leading His sheep down right paths so they may find peace and fulfillment despite enemies. And in verse 12, just as David faced false witnesses, so would Jesus Christ later face the same (Matthew 26:60-61). Indeed, many of the sufferings of God's people in the Old Testament foreshadowed to some degree what Jesus would have to go through—and what His followers today still must endure.
In verse 13, the NKJV has added to the beginning of verse 13 the italicized interpolation, "I would have lost heart..." The NIV translates the verse without this addition: "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." David waits on God's intervention with strong confidence, trusting that He will help and strengthen him now in this life (verses 13). If his hope in God were solely affixed to life after death, there would be no reason to have any hope in this life. But David does have hope in this life because God has encouraged him—and David passes this encouragement on to others (verse 14). This should give all of us hope for today—not just for tomorrow. Of course, our ultimate hope lies in eternity to come. For, as the apostle Paul later stated, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:19). What a blessing to know that we have hope in God both in this life and for eternal life to come.