First, we must return to our “end of the rope analogy.” David came to a place where the only way forward was with his God. There was no other way anymore for David. The only salvation he could receive was from the hand of God. He wasn’t looking for another human person to toss a longer rope to him. He had given up on the prospect of salvation by human hands, leastways his own. He turned in desperation to God alone.
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.
David is a man that knows God and knows what He is like and what He has said. He looked at the Law revealed through Moses and realized that the righteous were exalted and the wicked were to be put to death. He realized after considering the implications of the Law that,
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Have you ever considered that David wrote Psalm 1 through meditating on the Law of God? He tells us that the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). In Psalm 25:3, David is claiming an implicit promise from God. God made him king. God covenanted with him to establish his throne for all generations. God gave the Law that rewarded good and punished evil. The wicked are blown away by God as chaff is driven away by the wind. (Psalm 1:4) This is the truth he re-affirms to himself. But this swirl of doubt during this time of desperation caused him to realize, after claiming the promise of God, that he wasn’t thinking straight. This realization often happens to me when I go to the Father, and I am not acting in the truth. I have to restate the truth aloud to myself sometimes. After the truth dispels the lie I’ve been living in, I realize that no matter how mature I become in the faith, I still have much to learn. David makes this same discovery.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
David realizes that he needs instruction. The reason he’s hanging off a cliff with a rope that is too short for the ascent is that he threw it over the edge and started down. It was his rope. This mistake is common to Christians, small and great. Joshua didn’t inquire of the Lord with the Gibeonites. Saul couldn’t wait on Samuel. Rehoboam couldn’t listen to the older men. There are many times in Scripture when men do not lift up their souls to Lord, and great mischief is the result. A thorn in the flesh for Gideon. The loss of the kingdom for Saul. The tearing away of the northern ten tribes of Israel for Rehoboam. The result of these great men not lifting up their souls to the Lord was disastrous. They thought themselves wise, wiser than God in those moments, and much grief ensued. We are to “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)
David desires to be “made” to know the Lord’s ways. Listen again, 4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Whatever is necessary. Whatever has to happen. Whatever it takes, so long as he learns the ways of the Lord, it doesn’t matter. There is some desperation in his voice put there by his desperate circumstances. He is a man lifting up his soul, his very being to God.
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.
David is willing for God to make him know his ways, but to be led into the truth of God would be better. “5 Lead me in your truth and teach me.” He wants to know God and his ways. The rope and the cliff brought him to a place of desperation, but it is not about avoiding pain or the humiliation that comes with bad decisions. It is about knowing God. God’s paths lead to God Himself, not just to deliverance from bad situations. The truth of God and the paths of God are God’s, and a knowledge of them leads to a knowledge of Him. They do not lead to scientific or categoric expertise about God but an intimate understanding of God as a person. The paths of God lead to a personal knowledge that transcends deliverance from our situations and sins.
We’ll continue our exposition next time together in Part 3