Guided by the Truth

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[1] To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
[2] O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
[3] Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

[4] Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
[5] Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

[6] Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
[7] Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

[8] Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
[9] He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
[10] All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

(Psalm 25:1-10 ESV)

Using My Own Theology Against Me

David begins Psalm 25 with a declaration of confident trust in the LORD. He says something powerful in Hebrew when he says, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” This expression is used in other places pointing to desire or longing. David is directing his desires toward the Lord. What a way to start. This is a lament psalm, asking God for help in trouble, and David starts by saying, “I am directing my heart, my desires, my affections, my attention toward you.” He starts with the supremacy of God and moves to the trustworthiness of God. In verses 2-3 he says, “none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” That is, he balances his concern that he might not be ashamed of his trust in God in verse 2 with his belief, his conviction, his theological understanding that none who trust in God will be shamed that they have done so. Matthew Henry agrees,

It is certain that none who, by a believing attendance, wait on God, and, by a believing hope, wait for him, shall be made ashamed of it.

Using Truth as Lamp and Light

Those who trust in the LORD desire to understand his ways and his paths. That is, those who trust in the Lord want to understand how to live their lives in a way that glorifies God in obedience and joy. God has revealed his ways and paths to us in Scripture. David himself connects the way and the path of the LORD to the Scriptures later in this Psalm (8-10), and in other places as well:

[33] Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
[34] Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
[35] Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.  (Psalm 119:33-35 ESV)

[44] I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,
[45] and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. (Psalm 119:44-45 ESV)

[105] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV)

Guidance is not mystical. David doesn’t ask God to help him with a “sense of peace”, or an awareness of where he is at work so that David can join him. He asks God to make him know the truth, to teach him the truth,  and lead him according to the truth.

Repentance as a Heart Condition

David expresses trust in the LORD along with a robust commitment to the truth of Scripture from a repentant heart. He rests in the covenant-keeping fidelity of the LORD toward wicked sinners and he asks God to remember not his sins and transgressions. This is not a wishful, “if you get me out of this, I’ll never do bad things like I used to do” kind of prayer. David is genuinely seeking to be pure before the LORD in prayer, and he is praying that God will answer him according to mercy, not according to what he actually deserves.

Using My Own Theology Against Me…Again

David concludes this section by declaring that God will indeed instruct, lead, teach, and keep his merciful covenant. He founds his trust in God on his knowledge of God sourced in Scripture. God does indeed instruct, lead, teach, and keep his covenant with his people. David is essentially asking God to continue to be who he is and strengthening his own heart with the truth about who God is.

Guided by the Truth

The truth of Scripture is for all of life. We must use the Scripture as David did: to inform our minds and hearts about the God of the Bible who has spoken words of life to us. David used the truth to set his heart on God, to help him trust in God, to direct his way, to remind him of the mercy God had already shown Israel, and to fuel his own praise of God for his goodness, mercy, and guidance in the truth. This is what Scripture accomplishes in the people of God.  In moments of trial and hardship, do what David did:

  1. Use your own theology against you: No one has lied to you, cheated you, sinned against you, and abused you more than you have. Stop listening to yourself and use Scripture to preach to yourself.
  2. Look to the Bible for guidance, not mystical, pseudo-Christian nonsense: A “sense of peace” or something subjective  is no way to determine God’s feelings on a matter. Search Scripture and get Godly counsel from someone who knows the Bible. Pray that God will give you wisdom and direct your paths according to the truth.
  3. Have a repentant heart: Martin Luther, in his posting of the 95 Theses admitted, “the entire life of believers should be repentance.” We begin with a heart of repentant trust in the mercy of God, not with a proud, demanding heart, believing we deserve what we are asking of God. Believers know what they deserve: separation from God for eternity. Thus, we come to God in humility, asking that he will answer us in mercy.
  4. Exalt the God of truth: Celebrate the character of God in Scripture. Be corrected in your thinking by the truth and directed in your worship by the truth.

 

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