Some Psalms
Lesson 10

Lesson Ten

Trusting God

Text: Psalm 25

There is more than one way to approach this Psalm, and its content poses more than one question.  The text used in this lesson is the New American Standard translation.  The basic approach taken toward the content and message of this Psalm is the one of personal perspective produced by one’s experiences resulting from age.  Approach the Psalm’s message with this understanding: there was a relationship between personal righteousness and the righteousness of Israel as a nation that is unfamiliar to most of us. Our concept of righteousness focuses more on the individual rather than the nation.  Such was not the case in a theocracy, in ancient Israel.

As a person grew older and more experienced, his/her perspective changed.  There were some things the person knew, but the more he/she knew the more his/her personal struggle deepened and intensified. Things he/she did not even know to ask as a young adult became daily mysteries that often plagued his/her life.  For example, he/she knew God was holy, completely void of any sin.  He/she also knew that he/she was sinful—more sinful than he/she ever saw or acknowledged as a young adult. 


The struggle: how does the God in whom there is no sin associate with a human who has abundant sin?  He/she trusted God, but when does God react to one’s trust and when does God react to one’s sin?  How were difficult situations and moments to be understood in light of this disparity between God’s holiness and any human’s sinfulness?  How does this disparity “figure in” regarding bad happenings or situations?  Thus, the more a person knew as he/she aged, the more he/she trusted God, and the more aware he/she became of personal sinfulness.  The result: the more he/she struggled with the disparity between God’s holiness and personal sinfulness.  It was a vicious cycle that seemed to never end!


The Psalm began with an affirmation: “I trust God!  Without reservation I give Him my life!  May I never be ashamed of my relationship with God, and may God’s enemies never defeat me!  May the righteous never be ashamed!  May the treacherous be shamed!  May You, God, champion the righteous and give the treacherous what they should receive!”


Note the psalmist spoke of shame, not pain.  Although it is obvious in the Psalm that the psalmist dealt with pain-filled situations, the greater suffering was the result of shame, not of physical pain.  Only for comparative purposes, note how often the New Testament spoke of the shame of Jesus’ cross rather than the pain of Jesus’ cross.  The American Christian mindset is more touched by physical suffering than by shame.  Yet, even now shame often causes intense suffering.


Next, the psalmist affirmed life’s answers lie in God’s teachings.  If one wanted to live life meaningfully, he/she allowed God to be in the role of supreme teacher.  Passionately, he wished to know God’s ways.  He wanted to know God’s paths (note such knowledge was not intuitive, it did not “just happen.”)  He knew God saved him from the difficulties he faced, and he was patient enough to wait on God instead of impetuously making up his own mind and charging ahead.  Yet, he knew he was not deserving of God’s consideration.  He sought for God’s compassion and mercy (the kindness that came from God’s love), not for what he deserved.  He was quite aware of his past sinfulness when he lacked judgment to pursue God’s ways!  If he knew of his past sins, God surely knew!  He needed and pled for divine mercy!


The psalmist knew God.  He knew God well enough to describe Him.

            1. God is good and upright.

            2. He is not ashamed to instruct sinners.

            3. He will bring justice to the afflicted (the humble).

            4. He will guide those He leads to mercy (lovingkindness) and truth.


Put those characteristics together.  None needs to be terrorized of God or His destination for those who follow Him.  The imperfect can follow God!  If a person honored his/her agreement with God, that person would be accompanied by mercy and truth as he/she followed God’s ways.


Please note one followed God to honor God!  One allowed God to be his/her teacher for the sake of God’s goodness (verse 7).  One followed God’s ways for the sake of God’s name (verse 11).  The plea WAS NOT lead me follow You so I can satisfy my personal ambitions—it was not a self-centered following!  It WAS the plea to allow “sinful me” to honor You, God.  “May my life and the way I use my life never detract from Your goodness or shame Your name!”


Who is the person who fears (reverences) God?

            1. This person made his choices by understanding God’s instructions.

            2. He lived in God’s definition of good.

            3. His descendants would continue after he died.

            4. God’s purposes will be to such people’s benefit.

            5. God’s protection would be over such people.


The Psalm ended with a focus on the psalmist’s struggle.  The psalmist knew who God was and what God did for those who followed Him.  Yet, the psalmist struggled with reconciling what he knew about God and his current circumstances. 

            1. Because he was lonely and afflicted, he asked for God to be gracious to him.

            2. Because his internal troubles were huge, he asked for help with his distress.

            3. Because his affliction was burdensome, he asked for forgiveness.

            4. Because his enemies were numerous and vicious, he asked for God to be his refuge.


Though all of this was true of his situation, He knew his preservation was in God’s integrity and uprightness.  He understood that he must be patient.  He understood that the situation was bigger than just him—thus he asked God to redeem the nation of Israel.


In this Psalm, recognize these things:

1. The struggle for the believer between an understanding of God’s character and the reality of the believer’s circumstances is ancient.

2. Never come to the conclusion you have God “figured out.”

3. Refuse to allow your situation to be a “faith in God” crisis.

4. Realize the need for patience.

5. Realize all problems are bigger than just you.


Always remember the enormous blessing we have living on “this side” of Jesus’ cross!


For Discussion

1.     Discuss the struggle caused by knowledge of God’s character and the reality of our situations.

2.     Discuss why a person follows God’s values and paths.

Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 10

Copyright © 2010
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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