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Psalm 25

Walking with God

A David psalm.

1 I lift my heart to you, Yahveh.
I trust in you, my God.
Please don’t humiliate me
or let my enemies revel in my ruin.

3 Don’t let anyone
who looks to you be disgraced.
Rather, let those be disgraced
who act treacherously for no reason.
4 Show me your ways, Yahveh
and help me to walk in them.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me
for you’re the God who delivers me.
I hope in you from dawn to dusk.
6 Remember how you’ve acted
with compassion and relentless love
from time immemorial, Yahveh.
7 Forget my youthful sins and rebellion.
Since you’re infinitely good, Yahveh
look at me only
in the light of your unfailing love.

8 Because Yahveh is good
and always does what’s right
he guides those who go astray
back to the true path.
9 He guides the afflicted in the way of justice
and reveals his path to those bowed down.
10 All of Yahveh’s ways
reveal his unfailing love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant commandments.
11 Display your noble character, Yahveh
by pardoning my sin, grave as it is.
12 What can we say
of those who fear Yahveh?
He leads them in his chosen path.
13 They flourish in every way
and their children possess
the land assigned to them.
14 Yahveh counsels those who fear him
enabling them to grasp
what it means to keep his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on Yahveh
who frees my feet
from the traps I step into.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me
for I’m friendless and forlorn.
17 My anxieties threaten my very life.
Release me from them all.
18Look at my misfortunes
see my pain and forgive all my sins.
19 See how many enemies I have
and how violently they oppose me.
20 Rescue and protect me.
Don’t leave me hanging
now that I’ve put my trust in you.
21 May your integrity and virtue protect me
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God
from all her troubles.

This psalm’s circular, seemingly rambling, style relates partly to its acrostic structure.[a] Perhaps it’s also meant to approximate life’s messiness. By alternating between confessions of faith and of sin, David creates the sort of tension believers experience. He knows God’s path leads to flourishing and commits to following it, yet he struggles to do so.

Never easy, the right road runs through enemy territory. Taking it has left David in trouble—with public disgrace looming ahead—hurting and alone. He’s had some serious falls too. He faces violently treacherous enemies and dreads defeat with its attendant shame. He knows how weak and vulnerable he is. But he also knows he’s on the right road and trusts his guide not to fail him.

Thankfully, David returns repeatedly to God’s love and goodness. He’s not trying to earn forgiveness—he asks God to forgive purely because he’s merciful. The ancient Middle East’s gods were believed to be arrogant, disdainful of their subjects. By contrast, Yahveh is gracious to not just the obedient, but repentant sinners too. Though they often fail him, he remains faithful and helps them stay on course. Knowing this enables David to wait on God for deliverance. And the psalm’s final verse opens this redemption up to all God’s people.

Lord, I swing between faith and unbelief as both my own weaknesses and others’ attacks threaten to undo me and the good I do. Yet your way is the only path to life. Forgive my sins and guide me in your way. Help me to wait on you. Redeem me for the honor of your name. Amen.


[a] The poetic lines in verses 1-21 begin consecutively with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.