Psalm 25:7
Remember not the sins of my youth. This prayer implies -

I. PAINFUL MEMORIES. Brought up under the eye of God, our life should have been pure. It is our shame that it has been otherwise. Looking back, we are distressed at the remembrance of our follies and offences. Oh that we had hearkened unto God! then it might have been with us as with the holy Child Jesus -

"A son that never did amiss,
That never sham'd his mother's kiss,
Nor cross'd her fondest prayer."

II. DEEPENING SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY. Life is one whole. Amidst all changes personal identity remains. The present is linked to the past. We are answerable, not only for what we do to-day, but for what we have done in our earliest days. The sins of our youth are "ours." They form part of our burden, and press upon us the more heavily because of the added sins of riper years.

III. GROWING CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE EVIL OF SIN. Once, perhaps, we thought lightly of the sins of youth. They were but errors and faults common to all - the inevitable result of ignorance and inexperience at the worst. We were only sowing our wild oats. But now we look at things differently. We have seen not only the seed, but the fruit (Romans 6:21). We have, besides, gained insight, and our consciences have become more tender from living near to God. We judge, therefore, not only with better evidence, but by a higher standard.

IV. MISERABLE SENSE OF HELPLESSNESS. We see and deplore the evil, but cannot remedy it. We are like one standing by a house on fire. There was a time when we could have stopped the flame, but it is now too late. Perhaps some brother or sister has erred through our fault. If counsel could avail, we would give it. If tears and repentance on our part could atone, they would not be wanting. But no; it is too late; our only help is in God.

V. TERRIBLE FOREBODINGS. Think how distressing it must be to see the bad results of our sins in others. Some have died who had been hurt by us; others are living now in sin, whom we had helped to lead astray. Our own sins are reflected in the sins of others. Of Jeroboam it is said, "Who sinned, and made Israel to sin." Alas! he has had many followers. The sins of youth may become the groans of age (Job 13:26).

VI. FAITH IN THE MERCY AND POWER OF GOD. In our distress we turn to God. We cannot hope that he will forget; but he can forgive. We must not think that he will alter his law - that "whatsoever a man seweth, that shall he also reap;" but he is able to change our minds and hearts, so that we shall accept his law as holy and just and good; and then what we have regarded as stern rebuke will be turned into loving discipline, and our severest chastisements will end in our highest good. What a blessed change it makes, when into the confusions and the miseries and the sorrows of this world we bring the light and the love of God! We make our confession to him, and find peace. We cast our burden upon him, and are sustained. - W.F.







Remember not the sins of my youth.
The Psalm belongs to the later days of David. In youth we live in the present; in age we live in the past.

I. YOUTHFUL SINS ARE REMEMBERED WHEN THE SINNER ATTAINS TO AN ADVANCED AGE. Generally speaking, the youthful sinner is a thoughtless sinner. He does not trouble about the sin or its consequences. There is a fallacy about, that the sins of youth are not actual sins. If youthful follies gradually developed themselves into manly virtues, then all hail, 'youthful follies! But if sin always remains sin, and wild oats sown will only grow up wild oats, then this is a fallacy indeed. There comes a time when youthful sins rise up to remembrance, both with the sinner and with the saint. The saint may know that his sins are forgiven, but that does not alter the grief with which he remembers them. How much more sadly true this is of the sinner, who does not know of sin forgiven. There comes a time when old iniquities, long forgotten, shall rise again from the dead, and like spectres haunt the man. There will come a time when the sins of the past will march before you and demand judgment; and what then?

II. WHEN IN ADVANCED AGE THE SINS OF YOUTH ARE REMEMBERED, THE CRY OF THE SOUL IS, O GOD FORGET WHAT I MUST REMEMBER. David does not ask that he might forget his sins, but that God would forget them. It would not be well for us to forget them, even when they are forgiven. Arc your sins in God's memory as well as in your own? There are those who have their sins in the memory of God, but not in their own. Others have their sins in their own memory and in the memory of God too. And others have their sins in their own memory, but not in God's.

(Archibald G. Brown.)

We have no ground for supposing that the youth of David was sinful in the ordinary sense of the term, that he lived otherwise than "soberly, righteously, and godly"; or that he did not serve God purely, willingly, and lovingly. So far as we know, his offences against God in his youth were but the inevitable faults of his age — shortcomings, indeed, negligences and ignorances, and so things to be deplored and avoided; but there is nothing like any intimation of a vicious youth recorded against him in the Word of God. Nevertheless, there are always undeveloped tendencies towards evil lurking in every youthful heart, and on their encouragement or discouragement the tenor of the future life depends. The presumption is, that David was no longer young when this Psalm was composed. So we have this lesson, that his penitence and sorrow for sin were not things which, being once expressed, were thought of no more, but that they were ever before him, for years and years after his sins were committed. So must it be with those whose early years are stained with the defilements of sin. Either they will go on as they have begun, adding sin to sin, or they must be content to pass the remainder of their days as mourning penitents. As we sow we shall reap. If we have engaged in a course of sin we must be content to have a course of sorrow afterwards. Is a course of indulgence in any sin whatever worth the miseries into which sin inevitably leads? David is said to be a man after God's own heart; but only because, when he fell, he did not continue in sin. He was not a man after God's own heart with his sins, but without them, because of his readiness to cast them from him, and of his life-long, loving, trustful penitence afterwards.

(F. E. Paget.)

The true significance of the present is not revealed in the present. The present usually tells us only half truths, and sometimes falsehoods. Only the lapse of years makes us dispassionate judges of our earlier selves. Hence the past comes into our maturer life as an clement of pain and reproach. The text is the utterance of a rich and ripe experience — of a man about whom the shadows have begun to lengthen, and who is letting a sorrowful and faultful past come home to his matured judgment, to be tried by its higher standards and by its clearer discrimination. In view of what we know of David's youth, why does he so earnestly plead that the sins of his youth be not remembered by God? The answer is found in the standpoint from which David contemplated his life; for while the cool retrospect of a life brings disappointment and disgust to every thoughtful man, the nature and degree of this disgust are regulated according to the standard of judgment which is applied. The majority of men come, sooner or later, to think of themselves as fools in their earlier years, but they do not likewise come to think of themselves as sinners. When one begins to review his life from the standpoint of his moral relation to God, he sees through a glass which greatly enlarges the range of his retrospect, thoughts as well as deeds, intention as well as performance, motive no less than act — enter into his review. Secret faults come under inspection, with presumptuous sins; what he is not as well as what he is. The truth assumed in these words is one which concerns the character of God, which gives tone to this whole prayer of David, and which it very much concerns us to see as plainly as he did — the truth, that God cannot be passive in any moral relation. Sin cannot come to the notice of God without setting something in motion against itself, any more than the poles of a battery can be brought together, without starting an electric current. God cannot let sin alone. As a Lawgiver, He must take cognisance of violated law. As a Father, He must strive to restore an erring son. As an Administrator, He must anticipate the far-reaching consequences of a violation of moral order. Here men make a vital mistake. They are deceived, and mock God by thinking that He can, by any possibility, be false to His own pure Being. They measure Him by their own standards, and think that their own good-natured tolerance of sin is measured in Him. If a man will once deliberately consider the out-branchings and consequences of a single sin, even in the light of the familiar laws of cause and effect, he will readily see what a stupendous problem is that of forgiveness, and will echo the scribes' question, — "Who can forgive sins but God only?" We are not to expect God will literally shut our sins out of His remembrance: Nor that He will change His attitude towards sin. While God's relation to sin remains fixed, His relation to the sinner may be changed. How, in answer to such a prayer as David's, will man stand related to the follies and sins of his past life? He will not be entirely rid of their consequences, especially of their physical consequences. Nor will God cease to use the faultful past in the new man's education. But He will never taunt him with the past. He wants to use the past only as a help, not as a sting. And into the heart there will come a tranquil rest, a deep peace, founded not upon hone of retrieving the past, for there may be little time left; but simply upon the conviction that God has taken the whole sadly confused and stained life into His own hands. And there will come a turning with fresh zest to redeem the time which remains.

(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)

The first born should be sacrificed to God, the first fruits should be offered to Him, yea, the firstlings of beasts if they had not been redeemed, their necks behoved to have been broken. Think ye not that God hath more respect of the first fruits of our life than He hath of the first fruits or firstlings of bullocks? Thou shouldst consecrate thy beginnings to God with Josiah, who in the morning of his life, even early, began to seek the Lord.

(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)

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