Ever heard a song that just spoke to you? That perfectly described what you were feeling? Or it described your feelings in a way that you never thought of, and helped you understand them? It is a pretty cool feeling when a song, or even a story, describes a feeling or a situation that you have directly experienced. It helps you feel like you are not alone. It helps you give words to something you are experiencing, which often makes you feel relieved because now you can understand it better. Or it just pulled at your heartstrings.
How cool is it, though, when a piece of writing, far older than the songs we listen to, is able to describe a feeling just like your own? I found this in a Psalm and I can tell you, it is quite something, to find something so personally relatable that was written by someone who lived hundreds of years ago!
They say the best writing comes straight from the heart, and this article about this particular Psalm comes straight from my heart, just like Psalm 25 came straight from the author’s heart. I am not going to include the whole Psalm, but instead focus on a few verses.
We’ve all been there. A time in your life where you feel defeated, where you’ve lost the fight against life and sin. And that stings. You’re weighed down by your shame and think that things will never get better. This is it; you just can’t do this. You’re too weak, too pathetic. You have failed.
Now, if life was a movie or a story from a book, this isn’t the end – it’s only the beginning. You have hit rock bottom, but if you keep fighting then things will get better. If you are anything like me, you like a good underdog story.
This is what Psalm 25 is about. An underdog story. Suffering; hitting rock bottom.
“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!” (Psalm 25:7 ESV)
And I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I’ve realized my shortcomings, the places where I have failed. I feel ashamed and I’m crushed by the enormous burden of guilt. I just want to stop. But at the same time I want to beg God to stay, to not abandon me like I deserve.
“Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.” (Psalm 25:19-21 ESV)
The people who have been watching me, waiting for me to fail…it feels like they are winning. The things they say cut deeper than I knew were possible.
“She calls herself a Christian, but look!”, “Everything she said was a lie, she just uses people.”, “She is awful, really…worthless.”, “Did you hear what she said the other day? My word, she’s stupid.”, “I hear she started crying the other day…pathetic!”, “She’s crazy! I wouldn’t trust her.”, “Did you hear about her and that guy? She’s so desperate.”, “She’s so stuck up.”
Words like that hurt, and those are things people say so easily. Even if they don’t mean for you to hear, most of the time it gets back to you somehow. You feel lonely and in pain. This is what is being described in the Psalm.
The Psalmist asks God something interesting though, he asks for integrity and uprightness to preserve him. What does this mean? This verse didn’t really make sense to me until a couple of days ago when a friend of mine told me this:
“If your character is good and you are acting like a Christian, being gentle and loving, even if someone is saying horrible things about you, they will bounce off your character. That person might convince one or two people, but the rest won’t believe it.”
Despite his circumstances, his guilt and people being against him, the Psalmist knows who can help him during this time.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:16-18 ESV)
God is gracious and merciful. He is the one who is always – ALWAYS – going to be there for you. This Psalm is about suffering, but also about hope. It has made me cry, out of guilt and shame, and then made me cry again because I realized that I am not alone. God is here and He will turn to me and forgive my sins and He will not let me be put to shame. He’ll do the same for you! This is such an amazing message; it’s like balm for a broken heart. It’s the story of an underdog with a superhero watching over him, ready to catch him when he falls.