The Righteous One’s Confidence in the Lord’s Mercy

a brief study of Psalm 25, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 24 Nov 2006

Psalm 25 is the first of 7 acrostic or alphabetical psalms in the Scriptures. An acrostic psalm is a psalm which is arranged according to the Hebrew alphabet. The most famous of the acrostic psalms is Psalm 119.

Psalm 25 is not perfectly acrostic in that not all the letters of the alphabet are represented. For example, there is no verse for the letter Beth. Verse 1 begins with Aleph; verse 2 begins with Gimel which is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Why is this psalm ordered alphabetically? It is ordered alphabetically, no doubt as a memory devise, for when you read this psalm you will find that almost every verse is significant and can stand by itself— much like in the book of Proverbs.

In fact, someone has said that this psalm is really a collection of independent expressions of pious feelings. This is quite right. But this does not mean that this psalm comprises some insignificant religious platitudes.

On the contrary, there is much that is instructive and edifying in this psalm. I believe this psalm is messianic, but not in the same way as, say, Psalm 22 where the speaker is Christ. When we sing Psalm 22, we are joining our Saviour to sing about His experience.

But Psalm 25, like Psalm 23, is given by our Saviour for us to sing unto Him or unto the Father. In such a psalm, Christ our Lord joins us to sing; whereas in Psalm 22, we join the Lord to sing.

We may roughly organise this psalm into 7 parts. Let’s look at each one of them briefly.

First of all, from verses 1-3, we sing of our confident trust in the Lord:

1. Confident Trust

2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

The Christian life is full of pitfalls and danger. Our Lord warns us that if the world hates us, it is because it hated Him first. So as our Lord trusted His Father through all the dangers that attended His soul, let us learn to trust the Father. Let us especially trust Him, seeing that Christ our Lord is with us always.

Let us plead the Lord’s covenant love that He will not allow us to fall into occasion of shame before the world,—especially as we bear His name.

Secondly, from verses 4-5, we ask the Lord to guide us in the path of truth…

2. Petition for Guidance

4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

The way of truth and righteousness, is the only safe way for us to walk in. But what is this way? How to find this way to walk in? Only the Lord can show us the way as He it is who saved us by plucking us out of the way of death.

So we cry unto the Lord to show us the way, to lead us in the way and to teach us how we are to walk in the way.

He will teach us with His Word and Spirit. The Word is like our map. The Spirit is our light. He illumines our minds so that we can read the road map with understanding. He leads us also by His own example.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our God and Saviour. As we sing these words, we should particularly have our eyes of faith upon Him.

Thirdly, from verses 6-7, we appeal to the Lord to have mercy towards us.

3. Plea for Mercy

6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Mercy differs from grace in that mercy is wrath deserved,—withheld, whereas grace is love undeserved,—bestowed.

Mercy has to do with sin. As we walk in the way of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, through the Word makes us more and more aware of our sin.

At the same time, as we are made aware of the holiness of God, we are made to realise that unless our sins are forgiven us, we cannot expect the Lord’s blessing. So we cry unto the Lord to remember His tender mercies and to forgive us our sin.

But fourthly, from verses 8-10 we declare God’s goodness towards His covenant people.

4. Declaration of the Goodness of the LORD

8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

This is a beautiful declaration. God will teach sinners the right way to live. He may sometimes teach them through hard ways like temporal calamities.

Those who are meek and repent of their sin and therefore willing to learn the right way, He will further guide along in the path of justice, mercy and truth.

These are the ones who will declare God’s goodness because they taste of His mercy and truth.

Fifthly, from verse 11, we…

5. Petition for Pardon

11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.

This is one verse that caused many to think that Christ could not have sung this psalm, for Christ had no sin.

Yet, though He had no sin, He was afflicted because of our sin. Our sins were imputed to Him. So He could surely take in His lips these word as well as the words in verse 18—

18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

So as we cry unto the Father to look upon our affliction and to forgive us our sin, Christ our Lord must have cried unto the Father to look upon Him, and forgive our sin imputed to Him.

Though the afflictions that we suffer in this life may not be due to any particular sin we have committed, we must recognise that all affliction is a result of sin in general, and so we should cry unto the Lord in the words of this psalm when we face any form of affliction and pain—whether emotional or physical in this life.

But now sixthly, from verses 12-14, we have another statement of faith in regard to the Lord’s blessing toward those who fear Him:

6. Declaration of 
God’s Favour

12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

The Christian not only loves the Lord, he fears the Lord too. Those who fear the Lord will know the way and the blessing of the Lord.

They will know the secret of the Lord in that they will have wisdom to understand God’s providential dealings with them. “Call unto me, and I will show thee great and mighty things that thou knowest not” says the Lord through Jeremiah.

They will know the blessing of His covenant—of salvation in the home, and of prosperity both temporal and spiritual.

They will enjoy God’s blessings in a very real way.

But finally, from verse 15 to the end, we conclude this psalm with a swath of petitions which recap all that has been said before as we pray for deliverance from the troubles that beset us in this present life.

7. Prayer for Deliverance

Look at verse 21—

21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. 22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

The child of God recognises that though God will preserve and protect His people, He would generally do so in answer to their faith in Him and in the integrity and uprightness of their walk.

This is what we mean when we sing “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.” It is not our integrity and uprightness that will preserve us. It is God who will preserve us. But God will preserve only such as will walk in integrity and uprightness in grateful response to the redeeming work of the Lord.

So it is when the church is seeking to follow after the Lord faithfully that we can pray: “22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” For as long as we are not walking with the Lord in integrity and uprightness, then trouble is indeed good for us for it would bring us to our knees to depend on the Lord, whereas peace will make us complacent and prayerless.


Beloved brethren and children, have you been striving to walk in the ways of the Lord?

You may not succeed, because sin ensures that while in this world we shall fall short of the glory of God. But if you are humbly striving and seeking and relying on the Lord, then you can be assured of God’s covenant blessings.

God’s blessing is not merely a display of His benevolence. It is God’s blessing reserved for His covenant people, or the people who are united to His Son by faith and by the sign and seal of the covenant.

May the Lord hear our cries to deliver us out of trouble according as we strive to walk in His ways! Amen.

— JJ Lim