This last psalm in our year-long series is also the first. It is the last psalm we’ll consider for now, but in the Church’s worship services, it is the first.
Psalm 25 is the appointed psalm for the First Sunday of Advent. And as the first psalm traditionally heard as a new Church year begins, let’s ascribe it to Adam.
Adam, who had everything given to him as a gift: life, health, fellowship with God. An eternally bright future lay ahead of him: children and descendants, the satisfaction of work, the love of a spouse. No virus threatened to disrupt his plans, no terrorists were planning his death from distant shores, no wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, or snowstorms.
But then it all lay in tatters and ruins. Could his wife trust him any longer? Soon thorns and thistles would be sprouting in his once fertile fields even as disease and weakness took hold of his body. Soon enough, brother would turn murderously on brother and one day, nation would rise up against nation.
All this wreckage lay at Adam’s feet. It could all be traced to him.
Think of when you have been in Adam’s shoes, or at least when you have cowered behind his fig leaf, wishing your own efforts and innovations could cover your shame or sorrow.
Thinking of the times you have been like Adam, now read the words of Psalm 25.
Psalm 25 (NKJV)
A Psalm of David. To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!
Our enemy, the Old Evil Foe, deals treacherously with us. We pray God to show us His ways and teach us His paths.
We pray Him to forget and to remember. Forget. Don’t remember. Don’t dwell on my sin or think about me in that way. Instead, remember Your tender mercy, Your lovingkindness, Your goodness.
“For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity for it is great” (Psalm 25:11).
Picture this: The sun is setting on what has been a very long day. Adam looks longingly back at Eden. Now and then, he can even see a flash of light from the cherubim who guards the way back.
They no longer live there in naked innocence. Imperfect and unholy, now the lives and skins of innocent creatures have been sacrificed to replace their fig leaves. The first sacrifice foreshadowing something far into the future.
Adam’s sin and shame might have been too much, overwhelming, if not for something God had said earlier that day…
Earlier, in response to what they had done, God spoke of a Savior, born from a woman like Eve, and where Adam had failed to stomp that threat out of existence, this woman’s Son would.
The sun went down outside Eden and darkness gathered with that promise as their comfort. A promise from God that He would resolve this, that He wouldn’t remember and that He would…
He wouldn’t remember the sins of their youth. Instead, when He thought of them and remembered them, He would do so in His mercy.
Psalm 25. The start of a new Church Year, the start of Advent, when the first thing we hear about is Christ’s promise to return just as He’s now already come once.
Remember me in Your mercy. Forget my sins. Teach me Your ways. I wait for you.
Adam’s psalm and yours as well. A prayer answered in Christ.
Rev. Tony Pittenger, Contributing Writer and Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church, Port Orchard, Washington