Psalm 25 – I Lift Up My Soul
Psalm 25 belongs to a special category of psalms known as acrostics. In an acrostic, each new line (or verse or set of verses) begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This Hebrew rhetorical device was meant to express the notion of fullness or completeness; the use of every letter of the alphabet suggests symbolically the idea of breadth, comprehensiveness, and abundance. Often a complex interplay of ideas or motifs could be expressed in an acrostic psalm. Acrostic psalms are associated with the Wisdom tradition: like proverbs, they often present seemingly unconnected teachings on widely varied matters pertaining to proper conduct and faithful living. One further element frequently found in the Wisdom literature appears here in v. 14, which alludes to “the Lord’s secret.” A lifelong pursuit of wisdom is the secret which opens the way to abundant blessings; “the ways of wisdom are pleasant ways” (Prov 3:17). The Psalmist begins here with an expression of complete confidence in God: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (v. 1). The “soul” (in Hebrew, nefesh) was conceived as the life-force in a person, from which life and vitality flowed. “Lifting up the soul” places before God all that gives a person life, all that animates one’s existence, all that fosters one’s own vitality. The Psalmist asks for guidance and instruction, so as to know the ways of God. For the Hebrew mind, “to know” is to experience something or someone first hand, such that the impact of the encounter leaves a lasting impression, a profound knowledge. The Psalmist then moves on to express how God’s goodness has been made known: through compassion, merciful love (hesed), faithfulness, and uprightness (vv. 7-10). From here to the end of the psalm, a variety of requests are made of God, all of which demonstrate the Psalmist’s intimacy with God. What a beautiful model of open and reflective prayer we find in Psalm 25, arising from the heart of one whose purpose is to abide always in the presence of the God of goodness and truth.
Psalm 25 (24)
1 Of David.
To you, O Lórd, I líft up my sóul.
2 In yóu, O my Gód, I have trústed;
let me nót be pút to sháme;
let not my énemies exúlt over mé.
3 Let none who hópe in yóu be put to sháme;
but shámed are those who wántonly break fáith.
4 O Lórd, make me knów your wáys.
Téach me your páths.
5 Guíde me in your trúth, and téach me;
for yóu are the Gód of my salvátion.
I have hóped in yóu all day lóng.
6 Remémber your compássion, O Lórd,
and your mérciful lóve,
for théy are from of óld.
7 Do not remémber the síns of my yóuth,
nor mý transgréssions.
In your mérciful lóve remémber me,
becáuse of your góodness, O Lórd.
8 Góod and úpright is the Lórd;
he shóws the wáy to sínners.
9 He guídes the húmble in right júdgment;
to the húmble he téaches his wáy.
10 All the Lord’s páths are mércy and fáithfulness,
for those who kéep his cóvenant and commánds.
11 O Lórd, for the sáke of your náme,
forgíve my guílt, for it is gréat.
12 Who is thís that féars the Lórd?
He will shów him the páth to chóose.
13 His sóul shall líve in háppiness,
and his descéndants shall posséss the lánd.
14 The Lord’s sécret is for thóse who féar him;
to thém he revéals his cóvenant.
15 My éyes are álways on the Lórd,
for he réscues my féet from the snáre.
16 Turn to mé and have mércy on mé,
for Í am alóne and póor.
17 Relíeve the ánguish of my héart,
and sét me frée from my distréss.
18 Sée my lówliness and súffering,
and táke away áll my síns .
19 Sée how mány are my fóes:
with a víolent hátred they háte me.
20 Presérve my lífe and réscue me.
Let me nót be pút to sháme,
for in yóu I trúst.
21 May intégrity and vírtue protéct me,
for I have hóped in yóu, O Lórd.
22 Redéem Ísrael, O Gód,
from áll its distréss.
Prayer for Psalm 25
Lord God, good and upright, merciful and just: we turn to you in our every need, for you have shown yourself daily to be our source of salvation. As it is your joy to guide us in your truth, so lead us in the path of justice and mercy, that our hearts may be set on the pilgrimage that leads to you, who live and reign forever. Amen.