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Psalm 25

Sr. Patricia Bruno, OP

Psalm 25

288th Edition Psalm 25
July 2023

One of my friends, Dan, is a grandfather. He has a shadow: his adoring grandson Nick, who is five years old. When it’s haircut day Dan and Nick go together. One day Dan was late. Nick was sitting on the steps waiting. When Dan arrived, he immediately apologized and said he hoped Nick wasn’t worried. Without missing a beat Nick said, “I wasn’t worried because grandpas always keep their promises.”

Making and keeping promises is a big deal no matter what age we are. Promise keeping is the basis for any relationship. Being people of our word on whom others can depend is no small matter. To trust in the promise of a friend, a business partner, a spouse or even a stranger is an expression of our confidence in that person. This is true in our human relationships and especially true in our relationship with God.

Psalm 25 names and celebrates God’s promises to us: a promise of mercy, forgiveness and compassion. It’s a petitioning voice we hear in this psalm because we are asking for something that we cannot earn or buy. We are asking for mercy. It comes not because we have a right to it, but only because God has promised it.

Psalm 25
Remember your mercies, O God, Your ways make known to me;
teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my savior.

Remember your compassion, O God, and Your kindness that you showed long ago. In Your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O God.

Good and upright is God who shows sinners the way. In all that is right God guides the humble to justice and instructs the poor.

All God’s paths are love and truth for those who keep God’s covenant.
For the sake of your name, O God, forgive my guilt for it is great.

Those who fear God will be taught the course they should choose. Their souls will live in prosperity. Their children will have the land for their own.
The close secrets of God belong to those who love God.

My eyes are always on God, and God releases my foot from the net. Turn to me and take pity on me for I am alone and wretched. Relieve the distress of my heart, free me from my sufferings. See my pain, forgive my sins.

Let innocence and integrity be my protection, since my hope is in You.

As we pray this psalm along with the one who wrote it, it feels very personal and intimate. In fact, it sounds like a conversation between two long-time friends reminiscing.

Psalm 25 might be a good evening prayer for us. Often in the quiet of the evening we reflect on our own shortcomings or lack of faithfulness during the day. Psalm 25 makes it easy for us to acknowledge our failures because this psalm is prayed to the God of unconditional love.

The psalmist admits that her “guilt is great.” She needs her foot to be released “from the net.” Her heart is distressed. We might not feel the same gravity about our failures, but our need for God’s compassion and mercy are as real for us as they are for the psalmist. Psalm 25 acknowledges our sins, but the psalmist strongly directs God’s attention away from our sins and towards God’s promises. “In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O God,” remember me. In other words, because God is kind, merciful and good, we, along with the psalmist, can ask God to have a selective memory. In other words, remember Your kindness and goodness and forget our selfish choices, our youthful failures and our immature or hurtful decisions.

This prayer could sound rather naïve. How could God have a selective memory: a memory that only remembers us in a good light? How could anyone be so forgiving and generous unless they loved us unconditionally: unless their very name is Mercy. Meister Eckhart, O.P. reminds us. “We are loved by God precisely because we are fallible and fragile creatures. We are the handmaids of God’s mercy who knew us before we were born and who has loved us into being.” Saint Teresa of Avila reminds us how we come to understand God’s great love for us. She says that 98% of us enter into heaven through the backdoor: the door of mercy.

As we pray this psalm and give thanks for God’s unconditional love, we also ask God to teach us God’s ways. “Teach me your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are my God” (Ps.25:3). There is much that God needs to teach us, but it seems especially appropriate to ask God to teach us to be people of integrity and truth; people who choose to forgive others; people who keep their promises. Perhaps these are “the close secrets of God that belong to those who love God” (Ps.25: 13).

Preachers of  Truth • Love • Justice