Verse 22. "Redeems Israel, O God " - The people are prayed for in the preceding verses as if one person; now he includes the whole, lest his own personal necessities should narrow his heart. and cause him to forget his fellow sufferers.
This verse stands out of the order of the Psalm; and does not appear to have formed a part of the alphabetical arrangement. It is a general prayer for the redemption of Israel from captivity; and may well be applied to those of the true Israel who are seeking for complete redemption from the power, the guilt, and the pollution of sin; and from all the troubles that spring from it. And let it be ever known, that God alone can redeem Israel.
ANALYSIS OF THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM
This Psalms is a continued earnest prayer of a man or a people pressed with danger and enemies, and sensible of God's heavy displeasure against sin. It consists of five petitions.
I. His first petition is, that his "enemies not triumph over him," ver. 2, 3.
II. His second is for instruction, ver. 4, 5, which he urges, ver. 8-10, 12-14.
III. His third is for mercy and forgiveness ver. 6, 7, 11.
IV. His fourth is a renewal of his first, ver. 15-17, &c., with many arguments.
V. His fifth is for Israel in general, ver. 22.
I. He begins with the profession of his faith and confidence in God, without which there can be no prayer: " Unto thee, O Lord," &c.; he relies not on, nor seeks after, any human help. And upon this living hope, he prays: - 1. For this life, that it shame him not, as it does where a man hopes, and is frustrated: "Let me not be ashamed." Make it appear that I hope not in thee in vain.
2. "Let not mine enemies triumph over me." Glorying that I am deserted. This petition he urges by this argument: The example may prove dangerous, if thou send me no help; but it will be to thy glory, if I be relieved. If he were delivered, the faith and hope of others would be confirmed; if deserted, the good would faint and fail, the wicked triumph: therefore he prays, O, let none that wait on thee be ashamed; but let them be ashamed who transgress, that is, they that do me wrong maliciously, without my cause being given by myself.
II. He petitions for instruction, that he may be always guided and governed by the word of God, that he sink not under the cross, but rely on God's promises.
1. "Show me thy ways, and teach me thy paths." Show me that thou often dealest severely with thy best servants: bringest down, before thou exaltest; mortifiest, before thou quickenest; and settest the cross before the crown. Teach me- show me, that this is thy way.
2. "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me." Cause me to remember that thy promises are firm and true; yea and amen to those who trust in thee. This makes me hope still: "Thou art the God of my salvation." III. His third petition is for mercy. He prays for mercy, and the removal of the sin that obstructs it.
1. "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies, &c., which have been ever of old;" i.e., deal mercifully with me as thou hast ever done with those who flee to thee in their extremity.
2. He prays for the remission of the sins of his youth: "Remember not the sins of my youth." This petition he repeats, ver. 11: "For thy name's sake pardon mine iniquity;" and upon this confession: "For it is great." The psalmist here breaks off prayer; and, to confirm his confidence, speaks of the nature and person of God. It is necessary sometimes, even in the midst of our prayers, to call to mind the nature of God, and his ways with his people, lest, through a sense of our unworthiness or great unfaithfulness, we should be discouraged. And this course David takes; he says, 1. "Good and upright is the Lord." 1. Good, for he receives sinners gratis. 2. Upright-constant and true in his promises, therefore he will teach sinners in the way.
2. "The meek will he guide in judgment." He will not suffer them to be tempted above their strength; will teach them what to answer; and will not proceed with rigour, but will interpret all in the most favourable sense.
3. In a word, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth." 1. Mercy, in that he freely offers the remission of sins, the graces of his Spirit, support in distresses, and at last eternal life, to those who by faith and a good conscience walk before him: "Keep his covenant and his testimonies;" for the words of the covenant are: "I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed;" upon which follows: "Walk before me, and be thou perfect." 4. Upon the confidence of which promises and covenant the psalmist repeats his prayer: "O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great," ver. 11.
The psalmist now admires the happiness of him who trusts in God: "What man is he that feareth the Lord!" This happiness he sets forth by the fruits that follow his piety: - 1. The first fruit he shall gather is instruction and direction in his vocation, and private life: "Him shall he teach in the way," &c.
2. The second is, that his happiness shall not be momentary, but firm and lasting: "His soul shall dwell at ease." 3. The third is, that he shall be happy in his posterity: "His seed shall inherit the land." 4. The fourth is, that the redemption of mankind by Christ Jesus, with all the effects of it, pardon, holiness, &c., which is a secret unknown to the world, shall be revealed and applied to him: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." IV. Being confirmed by these promises, and cheered with these fruits, he, 1. Testifies his faith in God for deliverance: "My eyes are ever toward the Lord; he will pluck my feet out of the net." 2. He then renews his former prayer, it being nearly the same as that with which he began. It is conceived in several clauses:
1. "Turn thee unto me." 2. "Have mercy upon me." 3. "O bring me out of my distresses." 4. "Look upon my affliction and trouble, and forgive me all my sins." 5. "Consider mine enemies." 6. "O keep my soul, and deliver me." 7. "Let me not be ashamed." 8. "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me." Petitioners, and men in misery, think they can never say enough. This makes him often repeat the same thing. The sum is, that God would hear and grant him defense and deliverance in his dangers; remission of sins which caused them; and protect, direct, and govern him in his troubles.
3. That he might prevail in his suit, like an excellent orator, he uses many arguments to induce God to be propitious to him: - 1. His faith and trust in his promises: "Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord." 2. The danger he was now in: "His feet were in the net." 3. He was oppressed, alone, and had none to help him: "I am desolate and afflicted." 4. His inward afflictions and pain were grievous: "The troubles of my heart are enlarged." 5. His enemies were many, powerful, merciless, cruel: "Mine enemies are many-and hate me with cruel hatred." 6. And yet I am innocent, and desire to be so; and am thy servant: "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait upon thee." V. The psalmist having thus, through the Psalm, prayed for himself, at last offers up a short but earnest petition for the whole Church; which proceeds from that fellowship or communion which ought to be among all saints: "Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles!" Turn our captivity, and forgive the sins which have occasioned it.