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You Will Never Be Put to Shame
A Meditation on Psalm 25
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
There are two ways that we might come to God and be put to shame.
The first is if we try to come to God but he rejects us. We try to come to him in our neediness and desperation, but he only sees the sin that we bring with us. Our sin cuts us off from the ear of God, and all our efforts to find salvation are thwarted. We tried, we failed. We were cut off, and now we’ve been doubly ashamed: of our sin, and of having failed to get the help we need.
The second way we could be put to shame is if God really did grant us access, but it turned out he wasn’t really all that we needed. He wasn’t as powerful, as wise, as holy, as knowing as we thought. He hears us, but he cannot heal us. He can speak, but there’s nothing we can listen to. We go out into the world, “red in tooth and claw,” and fail because we don’t have what we must have. We’ve been put to shame.
David, though, is sure that he will never be put to shame. “O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” How can he trust that he will never be put to shame in either of those ways?
David, a sinner, could be rejected by a holy God. So David prays, “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love…Remember not the sins of my youth.” David only prays for what he knows the Lord can give. And why does he think the Lord can give this? It’s because he knows God’s nature. “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.” That’s a wonderful “therefore” because it tells us it is not despite God’s holiness that he stoops down to talk to sinners, it is because of it.
God’s goodness and his uprightness are not in conflict. They are as joined together as two notes in a sublime musical chord. His goodness means he scoops rebellious, sick, hateful, broken sinners into his hands and brings them close. His uprightness means when he does this he has something to give them—not self-help, not positive thinking, but real righteousness. Real love, real joy, real peace, real patience, real kindness, real goodness, real faithfulness, real self-control. “Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.”
God’s goodness opens the way for us to come to him. His uprightness is what provides what we need from him. So the two ways we might come to God and be ashamed are totally disarmed, not because of anything we’ve done or are, but because God’s own character has destroyed these possibilities through his promises.
In Jesus, God guarantees that we will never be put to shame. Among many other things, this means that we ought not try to put ourselves to shame. Feeling the urge to go to God in prayer? Do not let the memories of sin stop you. Need someone to turn to you? “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged.” Don’t tell yourself that you will ask the Lord to heal your loneliness after you have a week of awesome spirituality. The God who remembered his mercy and forgave David’s sin was the same God who instructed David in the way he should go. There are not two personalities in God, confessor and counselor. Your high priest is your prophet is your king. Go to him!
You will never be put to shame.