|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:1-7 In worshipping God, we must lift up our souls to him. It is certain that none who, by a believing attendance, wait on God, and, by a believing hope, wait for him, shall be ashamed of it. The most advanced believer both needs and desires to be taught of God. If we sincerely desire to know our duty, with resolution to do it, we may be sure that God will direct us in it. The psalmist is earnest for the pardon of his sins. When God pardons sin, he is said to remember it no more, which denotes full remission. It is God's goodness, and not ours, his mercy, and not our merit, that must be our plea for the pardon of sin, and all the good we need. This plea we must rely upon, feeling our own unworthiness, and satisfied of the riches of God's mercy and grace. How boundless is that mercy which covers for ever the sins and follies of a youth spent without God and without hope! Blessed be the Lord, the blood of the great Sacrifice can wash away every stain.
Verse 1. - Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift; up my soul (comp. Psalm 86:4; Psalm 143:8). The Hebrew phrase does not mean a temporary raising of the heart to God, but a permanent setting of the affections on him (see Deuteronomy 24:15; and comp. Psalm 24:4).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Either "in prayer", as the Chaldee paraphrase adds (s); and denotes sincere, affectionate, hearty prayer to God, a drawing nigh to him with a true heart: for unless the heart is lifted up, the lifting up of the eyes or hands in prayer is of no avail; see Lamentations 3:41; or by way of offering to the Lord, as some Jewish writers (t) interpret it; David not only presented his body in public worship, but his soul also as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which was his reasonable service; or else as a "depositum", which he committed into the hands of God, to be under his care and protection; and then the sense is the same with Psalm 31:5 (u); the phrase is sometimes used to express earnest and vehement desire after anything; See Gill on Psalm 24:4; and may here intend the very great desire of the psalmist after communion with God; which is elsewhere by him expressed by panting after him, and by thirsting for him in a dry and thirsty land, Psalm 42:1; the desires of his soul were not to vain things, the vanities and idols of the Gentiles, but to God only, and to the remembrance of his name.
(s) So Kimchi & Ben Melech. (t) R. Moseh in Aben Ezra in loc. (u) Midrash Tillim.
The Treasury of David
1 Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord.
"Unto thee, O Lord." - See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm-winds are out, the Lord's vessels put about and make for their well-remembered harbour of refuge. What a mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble, although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity. "Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul." It is but mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions. True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth-bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God's assistance, exert all our power to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our Saviour's love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.
"O my God." This title is more dear and near than the name Jehovah, which is used in the first sentence. Already the sweet singer has drawn nearer to his heavenly helper, for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of assured possession, calling him, my God. Oh the more than celestial music of that word - "my God!" It is to be observed that the Psalmist does not deny expression to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him; he does not fall into loathsome mock modesty, but finding in his soul a desire to seek the Lord he avows it; believing that he had a rightful interest in Jehovah he declares it, and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it; "O my God, I trust in thee." Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us to God, and then draws us near to him. As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no hope left. We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong, for otherwise prayer cannot prevail with God. Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield; what defence can be found for him who finds no defence in God? "Let me not be ashamed." Let not my disappointed hopes makes me feel ashamed of my former testimonies to thy faithfulness. Many were on the watch for this. The best of men have their enemies, and should pray against them that they may not see their wicked desires accomplished. "Let not mine enemies triumph over me." Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth out of my distresses by asking "Where is thy God?" There is a great jealousy in believers for the honour of God, and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them with the failure of their expectations from the God of their salvation. All other trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame, but our confidences shall never be confounded.
"Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed." Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow-sufferers. None pity the poor like those who have been or are still poor, none have such tenderness for the sick as those who have been long in ill health themselves. We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic hard-heartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him. Prayer when it is of the Holy Ghost's teaching is never selfish; the believer does not sue for monopolies for himself, but would have all in like case to partake of divine mercy with him. The prayer may be viewed as a promise; our Heavenly Father will never let his trustful children find him untrue or unkind. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. "Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause." David had given his enemies no provocation; their hatred was wanton. Sinners have no justifiable reason or valid excuse for transgressing; they benefit no one, not even themselves by their sins; the law against which they transgress is not harsh or unjust; God is not a tyrannical ruler, providence is not a bondage: men sin because they will sin, not because it is either profitable or reasonable to do so. Hence shame is their fitting reward. May they blush with penitential shame now, or else they will not be able to escape the everlasting contempt and the bitter shame which is the promotion of fools in the world to come.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 25:1-22. The general tone of this Psalm is that of prayer for help from enemies. Distress, however, exciting a sense of sin, humble confession, supplication for pardon, preservation from sin, and divine guidance, are prominent topics.
1. lift up my soul—(Ps 24:4; 86:4), set my affections (compare Col 3:2).
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