Our theme for Psalm 25 is that prayer is soul-ish wandering. Soul-ish wandering begins in one place and the spirit and soul wander from place to place and from thought to thought while in God’s presence. One could say that genuine prayer often meanders from one thought to another.
The psalmist shifts from Torah-observance-blessing and reverence-of-YHWH reflection (vv. 12-14) to a first person confession of dependence on YHWH. Soul-ish wandering now gets more personal.
I like Goldingay’s translation of Psalm 25:16: “Face toward me, be gracious to me, because I am alone and weak.”
In that “face toward me” we hear the deepest level of requests: God, look at me, shine your face on me, protect me, heal me, save me. The psalmist, in v. 15, looks at YHWH; now he wants YHWH to turn his eyes toward him.
The psalmist’s inner heart is in need of relief (v. 17); the psalmist is in trouble and wants forgiveness (v. 18); the psalmist then thinks of his enemies and wants deliverance (v. 19). So he prays for deliverance (20-21).
And then suddenly, the psalmist moves to the People of God: redeem Israel (v. 22).
Instead of seeing some kind of logical order (the psalm is organized by the alphabet), this psalm is an excellent example of listening in on a real prayer of a person who wanders in the presence of God.
Psa. 25:0 Of David.
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Psa. 25:4 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 day long.
Psa. 25:6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!
Psa. 25:8 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 decrees.
Psa. 25:11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the LORD?
He will teach them the way that they should choose.
Psa. 25:13 They will abide in prosperity,
and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Psa. 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
Psa. 25:19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
Psa. 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all its troubles.