Readings: Deuteronomy 30:9-14 • Psalm 25:1-10 • Colossians 1:1-14 • Luke 10:25-37
This week’s theme is God’s goodness leads to praise. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told they can obey, and when they do, they will see God’s goodness. In his letter to believers in Colossae, Paul tells them he is continually praising God for them—for their faith and love. He reminds them that God’s goodness brings redemption and forgiveness. In Luke, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus tells us to extend mercy, just as he does. The sermon focuses on Psalm 25 and David’s response to God’s goodness.
Salvation from A to Z
Psalm 25:1-10 (ESV)
Introduction: You may want to ask the following question and let the members give their answers: If I were to ask you to define God’s goodness, what comes to mind? What words come to mind when you think of God’s goodness?
Most of us believe in God’s goodness. There are many scriptures that give us reasons to praise God for his goodness:
- Forgiveness—before we even sinned
- Grace—unmerited (undeserved) pardon
- Adoption—heirs with Christ
- Faithfulness—God is always faithful to us
- Slow to anger/Quick to mercy
- Relational intentionality—God desires and seeks personal relationship with us.
- Unconditional love—nothing we do makes God love us more or love us less
Today we are going to look at Psalm 25 and see how David dealt with the contrast between God’s goodness and humanity’s sinfulness. This is a reality we all face—we know our sinfulness and we find it amazing that God decides to be good to us anyway
The psalms often speak of God’s goodness and our sinfulness within the topic of confession and repentance. Confession and repentance may conjure up feelings of fear, guilt and anxiety. But when we see God’s goodness as a who—Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer—confession and repentance becomes filled with faith, hope and love. Confession becomes a time where we agree with God’s pronouncement that we are made holy and righteous in Jesus and therefore acknowledge those areas in our life that are not congruent with that reality. We confess in hope knowing the Lord will not leave us in our sins. Repentance becomes a natural response from seeing the goodness of God. We change our mind about who God is and who we are and bring our life in line with that revelation.
Both confession and repentance flow out of and lead into praise. Let’s notice how David begins Psalm 25:
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust. (Psalm 25:1-2a ESV)
The phrase “I lift up my soul” means to “nurse an appetite for something.” David wants to feed his faith by being reminded—through praise—of the character of God. Praise is not something we do to satisfy some deity’s ego. God is not insecure and doesn’t need our praise to prop him up. Praise is for us. As we see his goodness, praise becomes a natural response drawn out of us. Out of this response we are again reminded of God’s goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy, grace and love. Praise becomes a cycle of enjoyment that feeds our faith in the one we are enjoying.
In The Joyful Christian, C.S. Lewis speaks eloquently on this subject of praise:
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation… The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be. If it were possible for a created soul fully (I mean, up to the full measure conceivable in a finite being) to ‘appreciate’, that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude.
David follows “I lift up my soul” with “O my God, in you I trust.” As our faith in God is fed, it grows into a trust that opens us to confession and repentance. Out of this trust we see that our repentance is not an exercise of shame. This God in whom David places his trust is the “God of my salvation.” The Psalm itself is structured as an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet. The first letter of each new verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew language. As David seeks deliverance, guidance and forgiveness throughout the Psalm we are reminded that the Lord has our salvation from Aleph to Tav—or in English, from A to Z.
David asks for deliverance
Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.” (Psalm 25:2b-3 ESV)
Salvation involves deliverance, but it doesn’t stop there. For David, deliverance is not being whisked away to heaven one day, leaving God’s good creation and purposes behind; deliverance is being delivered from all that prevents us from being who God created us to be. We cannot separate ourselves from God’s creation and purposes as revealed in Jesus. Heaven and Earth are meant to come together, not further apart.
Psalm 25 falls within a section of Psalms with Psalm 29 serving as a central theme. That central Psalm is all about the King of Creation. This is how David understood deliverance and is how we should understand it today. There is more to salvation than just going to heaven after we die. Heaven is not some plan of escapism, but rather it is the place where God’s presence fills the earth.
David asks for guidance.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. (Psalm 25:4-6 ESV)
Salvation also includes knowledge of who God is. God does not just reveal to us a better way of living; he gives himself to us to be known as life itself. This knowledge of God goes back “from of old.” He is and always has been a God of “mercy” and “steadfast love”—there is no other God to choose from. This was the calling of Israel for the other nations. There is only one God. All other gods are but empty and foolish idols. Jesus fulfills this role by revealing to us that this one God is a loving Father who is for us. The fear of the pagan deities can be discarded as we are guided into the knowledge of the only God that is.
David asks for forgiveness
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. (Psalm 25:7-10 ESV)
In the light of who God is, there is also an exposure of the darkness of sin and all that falls short of the Father’s good purposes for us. David does not want these sins to be “remembered.” Instead God remembers us. Sin dismembers us, tearing us apart and fragmenting us to our core. The forgiveness of God is not just in word only, leaving us in our dismembered and fractured state. His forgiveness is in Jesus Christ, and it is an active forgiveness, which restores, heals and re-members us to the wholeness of who we were created to be. Repentance is participating in his act of “re-membering.”
Even this repentance springs from the character of God being “good and upright.” The Father does not intend to leave us broken, but places us on the “paths of the Lord” that are “steadfast love and faithfulness.” So even our confessions can remind us that God’s grace is still working his good purposes in us.
Ultimately, we must remember that all the Psalms point to Jesus. In this Psalm, we can rightly say that Jesus is our salvation from A-Z.
Jesus is the one who delivers. There is no other source of deliverance from all that prevents us from having good relationship with God and with one another. Religion can’t deliver us. Principles don’t deliver us. Well-crafted plans and programs will never deliver us. It is to Jesus, and no other, to whom we lift up our souls for deliverance. As we wait on him, trusting him to do his work of deliverance in our life—even if it is one shackle at a time—we come to trust him more fully as our deliverer. He is faithful to deliver us even when we feel bound. We can participate in his deliverance in hope, knowing that he will complete his work in his good time. In this hope, we can live today out of the freedom he is bringing us into tomorrow.
Jesus is the one who guides. Jesus is the full revelation of the Father. To be guided into knowing God, we turn our eyes to Jesus, who leads us into his own relationship with the Father in the Spirit. Jesus is the great teacher who knows his disciples perfectly and loves them deeply. We do not have to fear his guidance. We know he is good and that he loves us in the same love that the Father loves him. It’s much easier to follow one that we trust. Have you ever had to follow someone that you knew didn’t know where he was going? Not a pleasant experience. Jesus knows the way because Jesus is the way. He is trustworthy and following him is a joyous journey.
Jesus is our forgiveness. Have you ever had someone say they forgive you only to later treat you with some retaliation? Jesus doesn’t only say a word of forgiveness; he is the Word of forgiveness. It is in him that our sins are forgiven, and we are made whole. We never have to fear that someday down the road we will be met with a God who vents his real feelings. When God forgives, he gives his Word. Jesus is his trustworthy Word in which we can confess all our sins knowing he will forgive and make us whole.
For our salvation from A to Z the bumper sticker got it right. “Jesus is the answer.” Sometimes we may be tempted to move on from Jesus into what we think are deeper waters. Perhaps we think Jesus is a good starting point but now we need to sink our teeth into something meatier. “Jesus is the answer” sounds cliché when one moves on to some new-fangled idea. Let Psalm 25 remind us that it is only in Jesus that we find any true deliverance, guidance and forgiveness. From A to Z, Jesus is still the answer.
 C.S. Lewis, The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis (New York, NY: Inspirational Press, 1994), 179-180.
Small Group Discussion Questions
- Can you think of a time when praising or celebrating something added to the enjoyment of what was being celebrated? Discuss how this dynamic applies to praising and worshiping God.
- Share some ways we can lift up our souls to the Lord to have our faith fed.
- Discuss how seeing the goodness of God invites us into confession and repentance. How might a proper understanding of God’s goodness and uprightness “instruct sinners in the way”? If we think God isn’t good and upright, can you see how we would want to hide and excuse our sins?
- In what ways are we tempted to move on from Jesus to some other way for deliverance, guidance and forgiveness?
- Read the story of the Good Samaritan and share the “Jesus characteristics” you see in the story.
- Read Col. 1:1-14, and share some people you praise God for.