"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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    Psalm Twenty-Five: Redeem Israel, O God, Out of All His Troubles

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Twenty-Five: Redeem Israel, O God, Out of All His Troubles

    Psalm Twenty-Five is a little unusual in that it is one of several acrostic poems in the psalter – that is, each verse begins with the twenty-two respective letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order, and thus proceeds, as it were, from “A” to “Z”. This arrangement seems to underscore the nature of the psalm's content, which contains a little bit of every facet of the life of faith – it gives the qualities and characteristics of the saint's walk and manner of life from “A” to “Z”. Thus, the arrangement of the psalm answers well to the material of which it consists.

    Only consider how true this assessment is: in the first twenty-four psalms, remember all the themes that we encountered? There have been psalms pleading for deliverance from enemies; psalms thanking God for his past deliverances; psalms recounting to God the righteousness and integrity of the psalmist; penitential psalms, pleading for forgiveness from sins; psalms which look ahead explicitly to Christ; psalms which portray his sufferings mystically, in the typological circumstances of the psalmist; and so on. These and many other such themes we have encountered in various psalms; but when we come to this psalm, we get a little glimpse of every one of those themes, yes, even of those that almost appear to be contrary to each other. Thus, for example, when in one place David says, “remember not the sins of my youth,” in another place he pleads, “May integrity and uprightness preserve me!”.

    What a marvelous arrangement this is! For whatever you may need, in all the various circumstances in which you may find yourself in your pilgrimage through this life, you will find it in here. Are you lonely? Well, then, the answer is in verse sixteen. Are you troubled by sin? Well, then, look to verses eleven, or six through seven, or eighteen. Do enemies oppress you? The answer awaits in verses two, and nineteen through twenty. But maybe it is not an enemy, but some other trial – in that case, turn to verse seventeen. Maybe you need a reminder of God's past faithfulness, because you are tempted to doubt; you will find it in verse six. Or perhaps it is a reminder of God's very nature and character that you need; and what precious glimpses you will find in verses seven and eight and ten and eleven and a few others beside. Or perhaps it is not just the perfections of God in general that you need, but a reminder of how he relates in particular to those who fear him and are in his covenant; and you may discover that in verses ten and twelve and fourteen. But what if you are at a loss as to which way you should go, and need guidance and wisdom for the perplexities of life? Then you will find what you need in verses four and five, or eight and nine. Maybe it will do your heart some good to know that others have gone through the same things you are going through, and that the Lord has delivered them all; then rest your heart in the constant faithfulness of the Lord to save, which you will encounter in verses three and ten and twelve. Or is it your wayward children over whom your soul is in doubt? Then take heart in the promise of verse thirteen.

    How manifold and rich is this alphabet of blessings! But when the darkness deepens and hope seems to fade, when doubts grow stronger and faith is hard-pressed, when the wait seems interminable and patience has all but run out, and when even the history of God's faithfulness to all the saints is but a cold comfort, then look beyond all that precious history to an example more reassuring yet – can you not see it shine and glister and dance through every verse? – that of the only perfect Man of God, who went through every trial that afflicts us more profoundly than us all, and who saw the salvation of his God more powerfully than any other one in all of history, when God reached down and raised him from the pit. If, for his Name's sake, he sent such a One to win pardon for all those in covenant with him, then what will he not do to save you, O Christian? He that did not even spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also freely give to us all things of which we need (Rom. 8:32), things of mercy and deliverance, comfort and hope, guidance and counsel, yes, and all good things, whether of life or death, in the heavens or the earth, in the world present or the world to come – all good things are yours, and you are Christ's and Christ is God's (1 Cor. 3:21-23).

    If these things be so, beloved, then may we not offer up with humble confidence this petition to the Father: “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles” (v. 22)?

    Posted by Nathan on October 25, 2010 11:20 AM

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