Advent Week 1: Hope for our World, Living Hope into our Darkness, Unto You alone, O God, Do I lift up my Soul.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and the theme is “Hope in the Darkness.” We will take some time for ourselves, something we’re often not very good at doing. The reality is God cares deeply for you before you can do anything for him, and he wants that truth to settle deeply into our hearts today. We will be exploring what it means to have vision for ourselves holistically. How do we set ourselves up for success emotionally, physically and spiritually? The truth is you matter, and it’s my prayer you are strengthened and encouraged today.

Psalm 25:1-10 Names of God Bible

By David.

To you, O Yahweh, I lift my soul.
I trust you, O my Elohim.
    Do not let me be put to shame.
    Do not let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame,
    but all who are unfaithful will be put to shame.
Make your ways known to me, O Yahweh,
    and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me
    because you are Elohim, my savior.
        I wait all day long for you.
Remember, O Yahweh, your compassionate and merciful deeds.
    They have existed from eternity.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my rebellious ways.
    Remember me, O Yahweh, in keeping with your mercy and your goodness.

Yahweh is good and decent.
    That is why he teaches sinners the way they should live.
He leads humble people to do what is right,
    and he teaches them his way.
10 Every path of Yahweh is one of mercy and truth
    for those who cling to his promise[b] and written instructions.

The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Psalm 25 is a plea from the depth of a suffering soul to the God in whom the speaker trusts for deliverance and mercy. Yet despite this trust, the text is a cry of utmost desperation. It points directly and decisively to our longing for God not only to deliver us from our troubles, also for God’s light to reveal us fully.

As we enter into this season Advent, we wait for God to see us through the darkness, reveal Himself, to bestow the mercy that we trust God alone to give.

While this reading is limited to verses 1-10, considering the entire Psalm provides a richer understanding of the Psalmist’s prayer.

In many ways, Psalm 25 is a brilliantly woven text. The Psalm as a whole appears to be two prayers woven together: one expressing the experience of a suffering individual who feels the absence of God, and the other expressing a community’s trust in God’s direction and deliverance. The individual and communal voices alternate, with verses 1-7, 11-12, and 16-21 voicing the individual, and verses 8-10, 13-15, and 22 voicing the community. It may be that two prayers were interwoven in this way for use in a worship context.

The result of this interweaving is a compelling prayer that contains all the elements of a lament:

  • Petition: As we see from the first two verses, this Psalm is addressed to God, calling upon God to hear the sufferer’s plea. The speaker pleads for God’s attention to and for deliverance from suffering (verses 1-3 and 16-21), and also for forgiveness of sins of the past, which seem to be haunting the speaker and contributing to that affliction (verse 6-7 and 11-12).

Woven together with this plea is a petition for instruction in following the right path (verses 4-5 and 8-10). While mercy is utterly dependent on God and not on our own deserving, the Psalmist knows that such mercy is most often found by his walking the way that God has provided within the covenant community (verses 10, 13-15).

  • Complaint: While we do not have here a clear description of the precise nature and source of the Psalmist’s suffering, it is clear, however, the situation is dire; the Psalm is rife with the language of shame, guilt, loneliness, and affliction. Whatever the cause of the individual’s suffering, a significant piece of the pain expressed here is the Psalmist’s idea, God’s apparent absence in the midst of it.

This absence of God is a source of shame for the speaker, who is persecuted for maintaining faith in a God who seems either unwilling or apparently unable to respond (verse 2-3 and 20). Indeed, for the Psalmist persecution is a “violent hatred” (verse 19) that further intensifies the very acute pain of the experience.

The Psalm is the Psalmists very heartfelt Appeal to God’s character: Here, the speaker takes this complaint to God precisely because God is the one who can be trusted to provide deliverance. In verses 6-7, 11, and 18, the Psalmist calls on God to make known the steadfast love that characterizes the Divine Reality.

Here we see another example of the brilliant weaving of this Psalm: the appeal unto God’s character is interwoven with a particular plea for forgiveness. “Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love . . . Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!” (verses 6-7).

It is as if the speaker is saying, “Remember, God, both who you are and who I am, and forget the sin that seems to stand between us.” The natures of God and of the sin filled, sin darkened human being both seem hidden under deep suffering and deeper shame, and only God’s attention to the afflicted can restore them.

Statements of confidence in God, and promise of sacrifice or praise: These final two elements of Psalms of lament are less explicit and frequent here than in other such Psalms (see Psalm 22).

The speaker asserts his sure and certain trust in God (verse 2), maintains the goodness and uprightness of the Lord (verse 8), and repeats the refrain of waiting for God to respond, implying assurance God’s response will surely and certainly, directly and decisively, timely and succinctly come (verses 3, 5, 21).

The speaker praises God for the sureness of God’s instruction (verses 8-10). But the overlying theme of this lament remains that of the perception of suffering, God’s divine absence; the Psalmist’s faith remains interwoven with fear and doubt, the Psalm ends with a plea for the redemption of all Israel (verse 22).

Advent often seems to come to us as a pinhole of light surrounded by darkness.

The world, with its suffering, its violence, its ruthlessness, at times seems so dark, and the light at tunnels end seems so puny. We want it to be enough, but we’re not really convinced it will be. We fear the light that God has promised won’t really shine in the darkest corners of our world, or of ourselves. And it is only dimly, through that pinhole of light, that we see ourselves, reduced to our shortcomings, and we long for God to look past those faults and really see us.

With the Psalmist, as a community and as individuals, we pray, “See me, God, and show me that mercy and steadfast love for which I long, and which I can receive only from you.” As the season of Advent begins, our hope begins as we cry the lament of Psalm 25, and we wait for the salvation that we know is ours.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Let us raise up our souls unto the Lord our God, and enter into a time of prayer.

“O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.”  

Thank You, Father, that I can place my complete trust in You to keep my soul pure and holy. As we move forth into this season of Advent, Continue to guide me so that I will never be ashamed of my behavior, words or thoughts. I praise You that if I will wait for You and seek after Your heart, I will never be ashamed.

In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.


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