Psalm 25:1
To you, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
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25:1-7 In worshipping God, we must lift up our souls to him. It is certain that none who, by a believing attendance, wait on God, and, by a believing hope, wait for him, shall be ashamed of it. The most advanced believer both needs and desires to be taught of God. If we sincerely desire to know our duty, with resolution to do it, we may be sure that God will direct us in it. The psalmist is earnest for the pardon of his sins. When God pardons sin, he is said to remember it no more, which denotes full remission. It is God's goodness, and not ours, his mercy, and not our merit, that must be our plea for the pardon of sin, and all the good we need. This plea we must rely upon, feeling our own unworthiness, and satisfied of the riches of God's mercy and grace. How boundless is that mercy which covers for ever the sins and follies of a youth spent without God and without hope! Blessed be the Lord, the blood of the great Sacrifice can wash away every stain.Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul - In meditation; in gratitude; in praise. The idea is, that the thoughts are lifted up from earth and earthly subjects to God. This is the beginning of the meditation; this gives character, perhaps, to the psalm. The state of mind is that of one who turns cheerfully away from earthly themes, and opens his mind to more lofty and hallowed influences. The mind begins with God; and, beginning with this, the current of thought is allowed to flow on, gathering up such ideas as would come in under this general purpose. Opening the mind to this influence, thoughts would flow in upon the soul embracing a wide range, and perhaps not very closely connected among themselves, but all of which would be fitted to raise the heart to God in meditation, thankfulness, and praise.
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Either "in prayer", as the Chaldee paraphrase adds (s); and denotes sincere, affectionate, hearty prayer to God, a drawing nigh to him with a true heart: for unless the heart is lifted up, the lifting up of the eyes or hands in prayer is of no avail; see Lamentations 3:41; or by way of offering to the Lord, as some Jewish writers (t) interpret it; David not only presented his body in public worship, but his soul also as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which was his reasonable service; or else as a "depositum", which he committed into the hands of God, to be under his care and protection; and then the sense is the same with Psalm 31:5 (u); the phrase is sometimes used to express earnest and vehement desire after anything; See Gill on Psalm 24:4; and may here intend the very great desire of the psalmist after communion with God; which is elsewhere by him expressed by panting after him, and by thirsting for him in a dry and thirsty land, Psalm 42:1; the desires of his soul were not to vain things, the vanities and idols of the Gentiles, but to God only, and to the remembrance of his name.

(s) So Kimchi & Ben Melech. (t) R. Moseh in Aben Ezra in loc. (u) Midrash Tillim.

<<A Psalm of David.>> Unto thee, {a} O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

(a) I did not put my trust in any worldly thing.

1 Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

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

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

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.

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.

Psalm 25:1

"Unto thee, O Lord." - See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm-winds are out, the Lord's vessels put about and make for their well-remembered harbour of refuge. What a mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble, although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity. "Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul." It is but mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions. True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth-bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God's assistance, exert all our power to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our Saviour's love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.

Psalm 25:2

"O my God." This title is more dear and near than the name Jehovah, which is used in the first sentence. Already the sweet singer has drawn nearer to his heavenly helper, for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of assured possession, calling him, my God. Oh the more than celestial music of that word - "my God!" It is to be observed that the Psalmist does not deny expression to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him; he does not fall into loathsome mock modesty, but finding in his soul a desire to seek the Lord he avows it; believing that he had a rightful interest in Jehovah he declares it, and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it; "O my God, I trust in thee." Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us to God, and then draws us near to him. As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no hope left. We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong, for otherwise prayer cannot prevail with God. Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield; what defence can be found for him who finds no defence in God? "Let me not be ashamed." Let not my disappointed hopes makes me feel ashamed of my former testimonies to thy faithfulness. Many were on the watch for this. The best of men have their enemies, and should pray against them that they may not see their wicked desires accomplished. "Let not mine enemies triumph over me." Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth out of my distresses by asking "Where is thy God?" There is a great jealousy in believers for the honour of God, and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them with the failure of their expectations from the God of their salvation. All other trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame, but our confidences shall never be confounded.

Psalm 25:3

"Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed." Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow-sufferers. None pity the poor like those who have been or are still poor, none have such tenderness for the sick as those who have been long in ill health themselves. We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic hard-heartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him. Prayer when it is of the Holy Ghost's teaching is never selfish; the believer does not sue for monopolies for himself, but would have all in like case to partake of divine mercy with him. The prayer may be viewed as a promise; our Heavenly Father will never let his trustful children find him untrue or unkind. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. "Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause." David had given his enemies no provocation; their hatred was wanton. Sinners have no justifiable reason or valid excuse for transgressing; they benefit no one, not even themselves by their sins; the law against which they transgress is not harsh or unjust; God is not a tyrannical ruler, providence is not a bondage: men sin because they will sin, not because it is either profitable or reasonable to do so. Hence shame is their fitting reward. May they blush with penitential shame now, or else they will not be able to escape the everlasting contempt and the bitter shame which is the promotion of fools in the world to come.

Psalm 25:4

continued...

Jahve, whose throne of grace is now set upon Zion, has not a limited dominion, like the heathen deities: His right to sovereignty embraces the earth and its fulness (Psalm 50:12; Psalm 89:12), i.e., everything that is to be found upon it and in it.

(Note: In 1 Corinthians 10:26, Paul founds on this verse (cf. Psalm 50:12) the doctrine that a Christian (apart from a charitable regard for the weak) may eat whatever is sold in the shambles, without troubling himself to enquire whether it has been offered to idols or not. A Talmudic teacher, B. Berachoth 35a, infers from this passage the duty of prayer before meat: He who eats without giving thanks is like one who lays hands upon קדשׁי שׁמים (the sacred things of God); the right to eat is only obtained by prayer.)

For He, הוא, is the owner of the world, because its Creator. He has founded it upon seas, i.e., the ocean and its streams, נהרות, ῥέεθρα (Jonah 2:4); for the waters existed before the dry land, and this has been cast up out of them at God's word, so that consequently the solid land, - which indeed also conceals in its interior a תּהום רבּה (Genesis 7:11), - rising above the surface of the sea, has the waters, as it were, for its foundation (Psalm 136:6), although it would more readily sink down into them than keep itself above them, if it were not in itself upheld by the creative power of God. Hereupon arises the question, who may ascend the mountain of Jahve, and stand above in His holy place? The futures have a potential signification: who can have courage to do it? what, therefore, must he be, whom Jahve receives into His fellowship, and with whose worship He is well-pleased? Answer: he must be one innocent in his actions and pure in mind, one who does not lift up his soul to that which is vain (לשּׁוא, according to the Masora with Waw minusculum). (ל) נשׂא נפשׁ אל, to direct one's soul, Psalm 25:1, or longing and striving, towards anything, Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs 19:18; Hosea 4:8. The Ker נפשׁי is old and acknowledged by the oldest authorities.

(Note: The reading נפשׁי is adopted by Saadia (in Enumoth ii., where נפשׁי is equivalent to שׁמי), Juda ha-Levi (Cuzari iii. 27), Abulwalid (Rikma p. 180), Rashi, Kimchi, the Sohar, the Codices (and among others by that of the year 1294) and most editions (among which, the Complutensis has נפשׁי in the text). Nor does Aben-Ezra, whom Norzi has misunderstood, by any means reverse the relation of the Chethb and Ker; to him נפשׁי is the Ker, and he explains it as a metaphor (an anthropomorphism): וכתוב נפשי דוך כנוי. Elias Levita is the only one who rejects the Ker נפשׁי; but he does so though misunderstanding a Masora (vid., Baer's Psalterium p. 130) and not without admitting Masoretic testimony in favour of it (וכן ראיתי ברוב נוסחאות המסורת). He is the only textual critic who rejects it. For Jacob b. Chajim is merely astonished that נפשׁו is not to be found in the Masoreth register of words written with Waw and to be read with Jod. And even Norzi does not reject this Ker, which he is obliged to admit has greatly preponderating testimony in its favour, and he would only too gladly get rid of it.)

Even the lxx Cod. Alex. translates: τὴν ψυχὴν μου; whereas Cod. Vat. (Eus., Apollin., Theodor., et al.): τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ. Critically it is just as intangible, as it is exegetically incomprehensible; נפשׁי might then be equivalent to שׁמי. Exodus 20:7, an explanation, however, which does not seem possible even from Amos 6:8; Jeremiah 51:14. We let this Kerמ alone to its undisturbed critical rights. But that the poet did actually write thus, is incredible.

In Psalm 24:5 (just as at the close of Psalm 15:1-5), in continued predicates, we are told the character of the man, who is worthy of this privilege, to whom the question in Psalm 24:3 refers. Such an one shall bear away, or acquire (נשׁא, as e.g., Esther 2:17) blessing from Jahve and righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalm 25:5; Psalm 27:9). Righteousness, i.e., conformity to God and that which is well-pleasing to God, appears here as a gift, and in this sense it is used interchangeably with ישׁע (e.g., Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16). It is the righteousness of God after which the righteous, but not the self-righteous, man hungers and thirsts; that moral perfection which is the likeness of God restored to him and at the same time brought about by his own endeavours; it is the being changed, or transfigured, into the image of the Holy One Himself. With Psalm 24:5 the answer to the question of Psalm 24:3 is at an end; Psalm 24:6 adds that those thus qualified, who may accordingly expect to receive God's gifts of salvation, are the true church of Jahve, the Israel of God. דּור (lit., a revolution, Arabic dahr, root דר, to turn, revolve) is used here, as in Psalm 14:5; Psalm 73:15; Psalm 112:2, of a collective whole, whose bond of union is not contemporaneousness, but similarity of disposition; and it is an alliteration with the דּרשׁיו (Chethb דרשו, without the Jod plur.) which follows. מבקשׁי פּניך is a second genitive depending on דּור, as in Psalm 27:8. Here at the close the predication passes into the form of invocation (Thy face). And יעקב is a summarising predicate: in short, these are Jacob, not merely after the flesh, but after the spirit, and thus in truth (Isaiah 44:2, cf. Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16). By interpolating אלהי, as is done in the lxx and Peshto, and adopted by Ewald, Olshausen, Hupfeld, and Bttcher, the nerve, as it were, of the assertion is cut through. The predicate, which has been expressed in different ways, is concentrated intelligibly enough in the one word יעקב, towards which it all along tends. And here the music becomes forte. The first part of this double Psalm dies away amidst the playing of the instruments of the Levitical priests; for the Ark was brought in בּכל־עז וּבשׁירים, as 2 Samuel 6:5 (cf. 2 Samuel 6:14) is to be read.

PSALM 25

Ps 25:1-22. The general tone of this Psalm is that of prayer for help from enemies. Distress, however, exciting a sense of sin, humble confession, supplication for pardon, preservation from sin, and divine guidance, are prominent topics.

1. lift up my soul—(Ps 24:4; 86:4), set my affections (compare Col 3:2).

Do I lift up my soul - His soul was cast down, and by prayer and faith he endeavours to lift it up to God.
Psalm 24:10
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