Where to Turn in Trouble

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
    they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long…

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great…
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

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.

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.

Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all his troubles.”
Psalm 25:1-5,8-11,15-22

So often when we face affliction and opposition at the hands, or words, of another, our impulse is to ask for judgment to rain on them, for freedom from their tyranny of unfairness, for vindication for ourselves. If questioned about our pointing fingers, we could justify our vengeance with a list of our miseries and their fault. The psalmist shows us another way.

It seems David was equally tempted to incriminate his opponents, as he peppers this song with requests for deliverance from shame, guilt, and sin, seemingly doing so every time such an urge struck. Yet, using his affliction as an opportunity to come clean before God, he asks for forgiveness himself. Rather than heft the blame on his opponents and whine in pity, from the trample of his foes he lifts his soul to the Lord. He aligns himself with God’s truth, not his attacker’s lies.

He acknowledges that he, too, is not only capable but culpable of the same treachery, and so asks to be cleansed. He seeks not to be ashamed with his response, but instead to know the Lord’s right way forward in keeping with his salvation. From the depths of being lonely, accosted, and hated, he begs to be guarded and preserved in that pit, and in his reaction, leaving all vengeance to God who is just and good.

What is our first impulse at being mistreated or accused? What self-righteousness or touchiness must we relinquish in order to humbly lift our situations to the Lord, and wait for His righteous resolutions? What guards will we put in place to remain blameless and shameless?

Lord, in every trouble, turn my soul to You. Prevent me from any shameful intent, action, or reaction; rather, keep me patiently trusting Your redemptive ways. Please lift me up to lift You up, and to exalt You as upright and good.

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