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.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
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 the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
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 testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
In the musical Hamilton, George Washington’s character sings the following:
“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory.
You have no control
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
In the song, George Washington is referencing the idea of legacy and perceptions. How do you want the story of your life to be told? Put another way, what are the fruits of your life and how do you want them to be remembered? When people think of you, what do you hope comes to their mind, and what influence do you have on that?
I would prefer to be remembered positively, remembered for the good I’ve done, yet I know that there are things in my past for which I don’t want to be remembered. We don’t want our legacy to be something we’re ashamed of.
Legacy seems to be on David’s mind as he writes the words of Psalm 25. David asks the Lord to remember him not according to David’s own actions, not according to David’s performance, not according to David’s sins and failures, but rather David asks God to remember him according to God’s own character of mercy and love.
That is certainly a different sort of legacy than is typically spoken about. We want to be praised for our achievements and be remembered for all the amazing things we’ve done. We typically want our legacies to be about us. We want to define our own legacies.
David points us in a different direction, a more humble and much wiser approach. Let God define your legacy on His terms. Let God tell your story. Let God remember you according to your truest and most unchangeable identity: You are His beloved child.
Throughout much of the rest of this psalm David articulates what it looks like to have God write our stories. God leads and teaches us. We follow and learn His paths of steadfast love and mercy. God “instructs sinners in the way.” God does not abandon us in our sin. He instructs us on the path of humility and forgiveness. This is the path Jesus walked as He journeyed to the cross and rose from the dead for our forgiveness.
- If you could ask anyone to write the biography of your life, who would you choose, and why?
- Can you think of anybody that needs your mercy and forgiveness?
Heavenly Father, thank You for remembering us according to Your mercy and love shown to us most clearly in Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 25:1-15 is an acrostic poem. In alphabetical order, each verse begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Write your own acrostic prayer to God.