Our reading today begins with Psalm 25. It begins with a plea for David not to be put to shame. David uses the same word three times in verses 1-3 for “shame.” David prays that he would not be put to shame (25:2), then states his belief that none who wait for God (could be translated “hope in God”) will be put to shame, and that those who are wantonly treacherous will be put to shame (v. 3). It could be translated “those who are faithless without reason will be put to shame.” David draws a contrast between those who hope in God, and those who have no reason not do, but don’t. It hearkens back to the two lines of Cain and Seth in the book of Genesis. David then prays for God to teach him and lead him (vv. 4-5), and then equates God’s salvation with the fact that David waits for/hopes in him. David is placing himself in that first group, and assigning salvation to those in that group. He follows that up with a prayer for God to remember His mercy and hesed love (salvation), but not to remember David’s sin according to that love and God’s own goodness.
The perspective then changes. Rather than addressing God, David spends three verses extolling God. God does exactly what David prayed for in verses 4-5: He instructs sinners in His ways and leads them in righteousness (vv. 8-9). And God’s way (path) is hesed love and faithfulness for His covenant people (v. 10). In verse 11, David repeats his prayer for mercy from verses 6-7. David then considers the person in that covenant with God. He fears the Lord, and will be instructed in the way (v. 12). Note that this is who David called a sinner in verse 8. In verse 13, David uses terms from the gracious Abrahamic Covenant: “his offspring shall inherit the land.” In verse 14, David pulls both of these ideas together: those who fear the Lord are those in covenant with Him.
David then returns to addressing God directly, and He calls to God for grace (v. 16). David knows God’s salvation of sinners is by grace alone. David refers to himself as a sinner again in verses 18. David then returns to where he started: he prays he would not be put to shame (v. 20), and tells God that he waits for/hopes in Him (v. 21). David closes by praying for salvation for all Israel (v. 22).
Psalm 26 uses the same themes as Psalm 25, but now David points to the results of God’s gracious salvation. David asks for God to judge him (26:1 – the “vindicate” is the word for “judge”). David knows that because of God’s salvation, he has walked in integrity – he has walked that path of faithfulness (v.1, 3). In verse 2, David asks God to test him and to refine him. David pleads innocent before God of deceit, hypocrisy, evil, and wickedness (vv. 4-5). In verses 6-8, David speaks of being in God’s presence. The altar (v. 6), God’s house, and the place where God’s glory dwells (v. 8) are referring to entering God’s presence in the Tabernacle.
David then prays (as he does) for God not to count him among sinners (v. 9). Rather than walking in integrity and faithfulness, these are those full of deceit and hypocrisy (v. 10). David then commits to walk in integrity, yet prays for redemption and grace (v. 11). David never loses sight of his sinfulness and his need for God’s grace even as one of the redeemed! David ends by declaring that he stands on level ground. This is God’s doing, as we will see in the next Psalm. David ends by blessing the Lord in the great assembly of the redeemed – all those in God’s presence.
Psalm 27 continues with the themes of the previous two Psalms. Because of Who God is (Psalm 25) and because of who David is in Him (Psalm 26), David now sings a song of confidence in God. David knows his “light” (instruction and leading from Psalm 25) and his salvation (both Ps 25 and 26) are from God, so he has nothing to fear. God is his refuge, so he has nothing to fear (27:1). When the wicked come against him, they will fall (v. 2). If an entire army comes to war against him, he has nothing to fear (v. 3). David then returns to the idea of being in God’s presence (see Psalm 26). He has asked the Lord for grace to dwell in His presence – His house and His Temple (v. 4). Because David is in His presence, God preserves him through trouble (v. 5) and will exalt him over the wicked (v. 6 – the “tent” refers to God’s presence again).
David then makes another plea for grace (v. 7). Because God calls for men to seek Him, David seeks Him (v. 8) and prays for God to answer him (v. 9). The part about turning him away in anger implies David recognizes God would be righteous to be angry with him. again recognizing his own sin. God responds to sin (v. 7) with grace (v. 9). Even if he were forsaken by his own parents, God will not forsake him. Verse 11 again speaks of God teaching David His ways (both Ps 25 and 26) and of God setting him on a level path (see Ps 26 – it can also be translated “straight path”). Despite the tribulations David faces (v. 12), David has faith in God’s preserving presence in this life (v. 13). David ends with a call for all the redeemed to share his confidence by twice encouraging them to wait for/hope in YHWH God (v. 14).
We end with Psalm 53 today. Does it seem familiar? That is because it is essentially the same as Psalm 14. We will consider only the differenced between the two Psalms. In 53:1, instead of abominable deeds, David doubles down by saying they do abominable iniquity. In verse 3, instead of all turning aside, he says they have all fallen away. It is a Hebrew term for disloyalty. The biggest difference is in verse 5. Psalm 14:5-6 reads:
There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.
Psalm 53:5 reads:
There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Here, David speaks of them being in terror where there is not terror. In other words, they bring this on themselves! Rather than addressing those who would come against God’s people and warning that He will preserve them, God addresses His people and assures them that He will protect them from their (and His) enemies.
David then ends with that same prayer for salvation for Israel (v. 6).