Psalm 25:8
Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
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(8)“With recollections clear, august, sublime,

Of God’s great Truth and Right immutable

She queened it o’er her weakness.”—A. H. CLOUGH.



Psalm 25:8 - Psalm 25:9

The Psalmist prays in this psalm for three things: deliverance, guidance, and forgiveness. Of these three petitions the central one is that for guidance. ‘Show me Thy ways, O Lord,’ he asks in a previous verse; where he means by ‘Thy ways,’ not God’s dealings with men, but men’s conduct as prescribed by God. In my text he exchanges petition for contemplation; and gazes on the character of God, in order thereby to be helped to confidence in an answer to his prayer. Such alternations of petition and contemplation are the very heartbeats of devotion, now expanding in desire, now closing on its treasure in fruition. Either attitude is incomplete without the other. Do our prayers pass into such still contemplation of the face of God? Do our thoughts of His character break into such confident petition? My text contains a striking view of the divine character, a grand confidence built thereupon, and a condition appended on which the fulfilment of that confidence depends. Let us look at these in turn.

I. First, then, we have here the Psalmist’s thought of God. ‘Good and upright is the Lord.’

Now it is clear that the former of these two epithets is here employed, not in its widest sense of moral perfectness, or else ‘upright,’ which follows, would be mere tautology, but in the narrower sense, which is familiar too, to us, in our common speech, in which good is tantamount to kind, beneficent, or to say all in a word, loving. Upright needs no explanation; but the point to notice is the decisiveness with which the Psalmist binds together, in one thought, the two aspects of the divine nature which so many people find it hard to reconcile, and the separation of which has been the parent of unnumbered misconceptions and errors as to Him and to His dealings. ‘Good and upright, loving and righteous is the Lord,’ says the Psalmist. He puts in no qualifying word such as, loving though righteous, righteous and yet loving. Such phrases express the general notions of the relation of these two attributes. But the Psalmist employs no such expressions. He binds the two qualities together, in the feeling of their profoundest harmony.

Now let me remind you that neither of these two resplendent aspects of the divine nature reaches its highest beauty and supremest power, except it be associated with the other. In the spectrum analysis of that great light there are the two lines; the one purest white of righteousness, and the other tinged with a ruddier glow, the line of love. The one adorns and sets off the other. Love without righteousness is flaccid, a mere gush of good-natured sentiment, impotent to confer blessing, powerless to evoke reverence. Righteousness without love is as white as snow, and as cold as ice; repellent, howsoever it may excite the sentiment of awe-struck distance. But we need that the righteousness shall be loving, and that the love shall be righteous, in order that the one may be apprehended in its tenderest tenderness and the other may be adored in its loftiest loftiness.

And yet we are always tempted to wrench the two apart, and to think that the operation of the one must sometimes, at all events on the outermost circumference of the spheres, impinge upon, and collide with, the operations of the other. Hence you get types of religion-yes! and two types of Christianity-in which the one or the other of these two harmonious attributes is emphasised to such a degree as almost to blot out the other. You get forms of religion in which the righteousness has swallowed up the love, and others in which the love has destroyed the righteousness. The effect is disastrous. In old days our fathers fell into the extreme on the one hand; and the pendulum has swung with a vengeance as far from the vertical line, to the other extreme, in these days as it ever did in the past. The religion which found its centre-point and its loftiest conception of the divine nature in the thought of His absolute righteousness made strong, if it made somewhat stern, men. And now we see renderings of the truth that God is love which degrade the lofty, noble, sovereign conception of the righteous God that loveth, into mere Indulgence on the throne of the universe. And what is the consequence? All the stern teachings of Scripture men recoil from, and try to explain away. The ill desert of sin, and the necessary iron nexus between sin and suffering-and as a consequence the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, and the supreme glory of His mission in that He is the Redeemer of mankind-are all become unfashionable to preach and unfashionable to believe. God is Love. We cannot make too much of His love, unless by reason of it we make too little of His righteousness.

The Psalmist, in his childlike faith, saw deeper and more truly than many would-be theologians and thinkers of this day, when he proclaimed in one breath ‘Good and upright is the Lord.’ Let us not forget that the Apostle, whose great message to the world was, as the last utterance completing the process of revelation, ‘God is Love,’ had it also in charge to ‘declare unto us that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.’

II. And so, secondly, mark the calm confidence builded on this conception of the divine character.

What a wonderful ‘therefore’ that is!-the logic of faith and not of sense. ‘Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will He teach sinners in the way.’ The coexistence of these two aspects in the perfect divine character is for us a guarantee that He cannot leave men, however guilty they may be, to grope in the dark, or keep His lips locked in silence. The Psalmist does not mean guidance as to practical advantages and worldly prosperity. That may also be looked for, in a modified degree. But what he means is guidance as to the one important thing, the sovereign conception of duty, the eternal law of right and wrong. God will not leave a man without adequate teaching as to that, just because He is loving and righteous.

For what is love, in its loftiest, purest, and therefore in its divine aspect? What is it except an infinite desire to impart, and that the object on which it falls shall be blessed. So because ‘the Lord is good, and His tender mercies are over all His works,’ certainly He must desire, if one may so say, as His deepest desire, the blessedness of His creatures. He is a God whose nature and property it is to love, and His love is the infinite and ceaseless welling out of Himself, in all forms of beauty and blessedness, according to the capacity and contents of His recipient creatures. He is ‘the giving God,’ as James in his epistle eloquently and wonderfully calls Him, whose very nature it is to give. And that is only to say, in other words, ‘good is the Lord.’

But then ‘good and upright’-that combination determines the form which His blessings shall assume, the channel in which by preference they will flow. If we had only to say, ‘good is the Lord,’ then our happiness, as we call it, the satisfaction of our physical needs and of lower cravings, might be the adequate expression of His love. But if God be righteous, then because Himself is so, it must be His deepest desire for us that we should be like Him. Not our happiness but our rectitude is God’s end in all that He does with us. It is worth His while to make us, in the lower sense of the word, ‘happy,’ but the purpose of joy as of sorrow is to make us pure and righteous. We shall never come to understand the meaning of our own lives, and will always be blindly puzzling over the mysteries of the providences that beset us, until we learn that not enjoyment and not sorrow is His ultimate end concerning us, but that we may be partakers of His holiness. Since He is righteous, the dearest desire of His loving heart, and that to which all His dealings with us are directed; and that, therefore, to which all our desires and efforts should be directed likewise, is to make us righteous also.

‘Therefore will He teach sinners in the way.’ If the righteousness existed without the love it must ‘come with a rod,’ and the sinners who are out of the way must incontinently be crushed where they have wandered. But since righteousness is blended with love, therefore He comes, and must desire to bring all wanderers back into the paths which are His own.

I need not do more than in a word remind you how strong a presumption there lies in this combination of aspects of the divine nature, in favour of an actual revelation. It seems to me that, notwithstanding all the objections that are made to a supernatural and objective revelation, there is nothing half so monstrous as it would be to believe, with the pure deist or theist, that God, being what He is, righteous and loving, had never rent His heavens to say one word to man to lead him in the paths of righteousness. I can understand Atheism, and I can understand a revealing God, but not a God that dwells in the thick darkness, and is yet Love and Righteousness, and looks down upon this world and never puts out a finger to point the path of duty. A silent God seems to me no God but an Almighty Devil. Revelation is the plain conclusion from the premisses that ‘good and upright is the Lord!’ I speak not, for there is no time to do so, of the various manners in which this divine desire to bring sinners into the way fulfils itself. There are our consciences; there are His providences; there is the objective revelation of His word; there are the whispers of His Spirit in men’s hearts. I do not know what you believe, but I believe that God can find His way to my heart and infuse there illumination, and move affections, and make my eye clear to discern what is right. ‘He that formed the eye, shall He not see?’ He that formed the eye, shall He not send light to it? Are we to shut out God, in obedience to the dictates of an arbitrary psychology, from access to His own creature; and to say, ‘Thou hast made me, and Thou canst not speak to me. My soul is Thine by creation, but its doors are close barred against Thee; and Thou canst not lay Thy hand upon it?’ ‘Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will He teach sinners in the way.’

III. Now notice, again, the condition on which the fulfilment of this confidence depends.

‘The meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way.’ The fact of our being sinful only makes it the more imperative that God should speak to us. But the condition of our hearing and profiting by the guidance is meekness. By meekness the Psalmist means, I suppose, little else than what we might call docility, of which the prime element is the submission of my own will to God’s. The reason why we go wrong about our duties is mainly that we do not supremely want to go right, but rather to gratify inclinations, tastes, or passions. God is speaking to us, but if we make such a riot with the yelpings of our own kennelled desires and lusts, and listen to the rattle and noise of the street and the babble of tongues, He

‘Can but listen at the gate,

And hear the household jar within.’

‘The meek will He guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way.’ Some of us put our heads down like bulls charging a gate. Some of us drive on full speed, and will not shut off steam though the signals are against us, and the end of that can only be one thing. Some of us do not wish to know what God wishes us to do. Some of us cannot bear suspense of judgment, or of decision, and are always in a hurry to be in action, and think the time lost that is spent in waiting to know what God the Lord will speak. If you do not clearly see what to do, then clearly you may see that you are to do nothing.

The ark was to go half a mile in front of the camp before the foremost files lifted a foot to follow, in order that there should be no mistake as to the road. Wait till God points the path, and wish Him to point it, and hush the noises that prevent your hearing His voice, and keep your wills in absolute submission; and above all, be sure that you act out your convictions, and that you have no knowledge of duty which is not expressed in your practice, and you will get all the light which you need; sometimes being taught by errors no doubt, often being left to make mistakes as to what is expedient in regard to worldly prosperity, but being infallibly guided as to the path of duty, and the path of peace and righteousness.

And now, before I close, let me just remind you of the great fact which transcends the Psalmist’s confidence whilst it warrants it.

Because God is Love, and God is Righteousness, He cannot but speak. But this Psalmist did not know how wonderfully God was going to speak by that Word who has called Himself the Light of men; and who has said, ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ He ‘teaches sinners in the way,’ by Jesus Christ; for we have Him for our Pattern and Example. We have His love for our impelling motive. We have His Spirit to speak in our hearts, and to ‘guide us into all truth.’ And this Shepherd, ‘when He putteth forth His own sheep, goeth before them; and the sheep follow Him and know His voice.’ The Psalmist’s confidence, bright as it is, is but the glow of the morning twilight. The full sunshine of the transcendent fact to which God’s righteous love impelled and bound Him is Christ, who makes us know the will of the Father. But we want more than knowledge. For we all know our duty a great deal better than any of us do it. What is the use of a guide to a lame man? But our Guide says to us, ‘Arise and walk,’ and if we clasp His hand we receive strength, and ‘the lame man leaps as a hart.’

So, dear brethren! let us all cleave to Him, the Guide, the Way, and the Life which enables us to walk in the way. If we thus cleave, then be sure that He will lead us in the paths of righteousness, which are paths of peace. He is the Way; He is the Leader of the march; He gives power to walk in the light, and His one command, ‘Follow Me,’ unfolds into all duty and includes all direction, companionship, perfection, and blessedness.Psalm 25:8-9. Good and upright is the Lord — Bountiful and gracious, ready to do good, and delighting in it: and right, or righteous, (as ישׁר, jashar, here rendered upright, means,) that is, holy and true, sincere in making promises, and in all his declarations and offers of mercy to sinners, and faithful in fulfilling them. Therefore will he teach sinners the way — Being such a one, he will not be wanting to such poor sinners as I am, but will guide them by his Word and Spirit, and gracious providence, into the way of life and peace. By sinners he doth not intend all that are so; for such as are obstinate, proud, and scornful, God hath declared he will not teach or direct, but will leave them to the errors and lusts of their own hearts; but only such as, being truly sensible of their sins, do humbly and earnestly seek of God grace and mercy; or such as are meek, as the next verse explains it, that is, humble and gentle, and who meekly submit themselves to God’s hand, and are willing and desirous to be directed and governed by him. These he will guide in judgment — That is, in the paths of judgment, in the right way in which they ought to walk; and by the rule of his word, which is often called his judgment: or, with judgment, that is, with a wise and provident care and a due regard to all their circumstances.25:8-14 We are all sinners; and Christ came into the world to save sinners, to teach sinners, to call sinners to repentance. We value a promise by the character of him that makes it; we therefore depend upon God's promises. All the paths of the Lord, that is, all his promises and all his providences, are mercy and truth. In all God's dealings his people may see his mercy displayed, and his word fulfilled, whatever afflictions they are now exercised with. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth; and so it will appear when they come to their journey's end. Those that are humble, that distrust themselves, and desire to be taught and to follow Divine guidance, these he will guide in judgment, that is, by the rule of the written word, to find rest for their souls in the Saviour. Even when the body is sick, and in pain, the soul may be at ease in God.Good and upright is the Lord - His character is benevolent, and he is worthy of confidence. He is not merely "good," but he is equal and just in his dealings with people. This latter attribute is no less a reason for confidence in his character than the former. We need a God who is not merely benevolent and kind, but who is just and faithful; whose administration is based on principles of truth and justice, and in whose dealings, therefore, his creatures can repose unlimited confidence.

Therefore will he teach sinners - Because he is good and upright, we may approach him with the assurance that he will guide us aright. His "goodness" may be relied on as furnishing evidence that he will be "disposed" to do this; his "uprightness" as furnishing the assurance that the path in which he will lead us will be the best path. We could not rely on mere benevolence, for it might lack wisdom and firmness, or might lack power to execute its own purposes; we can rely upon it when it is connected with a character that is infinitely upright, and an arm that is infinitely mighty.

In the way - In the right way - the way in which they should go, the path of truth, of happiness, of salvation.

8, 9. upright—acting according to His promise.

sinners—the general term, limited by the

meek—who are penitent.

the way—and his way—God's way of providence.

8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

These three verses are a meditation upon the attributes and acts of the Lord. He who toils in the harvest field of prayer should occasionally pause awhile and refresh himself with a meal of meditation.

Psalm 25:8

"Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way." Here the goodness and the rectitude of the divine character are beheld in friendly union; he who would see them thus united in bonds of perfect amity must stand at the foot of the cross and view them blended in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It is no less true than wonderful that through the atonement the justice of God pleads as strongly as his grace for the salvation of the sinners whom Jesus died to save. Moreover, as a good man naturally endeavours to make others like himself, so will the Lord our God in his compassion bring sinners into the way of holiness and conform them to his own image; thus the goodness of our God leads us to expect the reclaiming of sinful men. We may not conclude from God's goodness that he will save those sinners who continue to wander in their own ways, but we may be assured that he will renew transgressors' hearts and guide them into the way of holiness. Let those who desire to be delivered from sin take comfort from this. God himself will condescend to be the teacher of sinners. What a ragged school is this for God to teach in! God's teaching is practical; he teaches sinners not only the doctrine, but the way.

Psalm 25:9

"The meek will he guide in judgment." Meek spirits are in high favour with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus, for he sees in them the image of his only-begotten Son. They know their need of guidance, and are willing to submit their own understandings to divine will, and therefore the Lord condescends to be their guide. Humble spirits are in this verse endowed with a rich inheritance; let them be of good cheer. Trouble puts gentle spirits to their wits' ends, and drives them to act without discretion, but grace comes to the rescue, enlightens their mind to follow that which is just, and helps them to discern the way in which the Lord would have them to go. Proud of their own wisdom fools will not learn, and therefore miss their road to heaven, but lowly hearts sit at Jesus' feet, and find the gate of glory, for "the meek will he teach his way." Blessed teacher! Favoured scholar! Divine lesson! My soul, be thou familiar with the whole.

Psalm 25:10

This is a rule without an exception. God is good to those that be good. Mercy and faithfulness shall abound towards those who through mercy are made faithful. Whatever outward appearances may threaten we should settle it steadfastly in our minds that while grace enables us to obey the Lord's will we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss. There shall be mercy in every unsavoury morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter drop; let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the immutable covenant of Jehovah, which is ordered in all things and sure. Yet this is not a general truth to be trampled upon by swine, it is a pearl for a child's neck. Gracious souls, by faith resting upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus, keep the covenant of the Lord, and, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they walk in his testimonies; these will find all things co-working for their good, but to the sinner there is no such promise. Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant; those who follow the Lord's commands shall find the Lord's mercy following them.

Good, i.e. bountiful and gracious to sinners, ready to do good, and delighting in it.

Upright, or, right, i.e. holy and true, sincere in making promises, and in all his declarations and offers of mercy to sinners, and faithful in fulfilling them. Being such a one, he will not be wanting to such poor sinners as I am, but will guide them by his word, and Spirit, and gracious providence into the way of life and peace. By

sinners he doth not understand all that are so; not such as are obstinate, and proud, and scornful, whom God hath declared that he will not teach nor direct, but will leave them to the errors and lusts of their own hearts, and will blind and harden them to their ruin, as is often expressed in Scripture; but only such as, being truly sensible of their sins, do humbly and earnestly seek God for his grace and mercy, or such as are meek, as the next verse explains it; for these he will not fail to assist and relieve. Good and upright is the Lord,.... He is essentially, originally, and independently good of himself in his own nature, and he is providentially good to all his creatures; and he is in a way of special grace and mercy good to his own people: and he is "upright", just in himself, righteous in all his ways and works, and faithful in all his promises; and the consideration of these excellent perfections of his encouraged the psalmist to entertain an holy confidence, that his petitions, respecting instruction and guidance in the ways of the Lord, Psalm 25:4; would be heard and answered, notwithstanding his sins and transgressions;

therefore will he teach sinners in the way; such who are in sinful ways, he will teach them by his word and Spirit the evil of their ways, and bring them out of them, and to repentance for them; and he will teach them his own ways, both the ways and methods of his grace, in saving sinners by Christ, and the paths of faith and duty in which he would have them walk; see Psalm 51:13.

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he {f} teach sinners in the way.

(f) That is, call them to repentance.

8. Therefore] He who is at once perfectly loving and perfectly upright must needs guide the erring.

teach] R.V. instruct: the word from which torah (‘law,’ primarily ‘instruction’) is derived. See on Psalm 1:2.

8–14. The Psalmist’s petitions are grounded upon the revealed character of Jehovah.Verse 8. - Good and upright is the Lord. A transition. From prayer the psalmist turns to reflection, and meditates awhile (vers. 8-10) on the character and ways of God. God is, indeed, "good," as he has implied in the preceding verse - i.e., kind, tender, gentle, merciful; but he is also "upright" (יָשָׁר) - just, straight, strict, undeviating from the path of right. As Bishop Butler observes, "Divine goodness, with which, if I mistake not, we make very free in our speculations, may not be a bare single disposition to produce happiness, but a disposition to make the good, the faithful, the honest man happy" ('Anal.,' 1:2, p. 41) - s disposition, i.e., to be just as well as merciful to distribute happiness by the canon of right. Therefore will he teach sinners in the way. He will not abandon sinners - this is his "goodness;" but will reclaim them, chasten them, make them to walk in his way - this is his uprightness. The Psalm begins, like Psalm 16:1-11; Psalm 23:1, with a monostich. Psalm 25:2 is the ב strophe, אלהי (unless one is disposed to read בך אלהי according to the position of the words in Psalm 31:2), after the manner of the interjections in the tragedians, e.g., oo'moi, not being reckoned as belonging to the verse (J. D. Kצhler). In need of help and full of longing for deliverance he raises his soul, drawn away from earthly desires, to Jahve (Psalm 86:4; Psalm 143:8), the God who alone can grant him that which shall truly satisfy his need. His ego, which has the soul within itself, directs his soul upwards to Him whom he calls אלהי, because in believing confidence he clings to Him and is united with Him. The two אל declare what Jahve is not to allow him to experience, just as in Psalm 31:2, Psalm 31:18. According to Psalm 25:19, Psalm 25:20; Psalm 38:17, it is safer to construe לי with יעלצוּ (cf. Psalm 71:10), as also in Psalm 27:2; Psalm 30:2, Micah 7:8, although it would be possible to construe it with אויבי (cf. Psalm 144:2). In Psalm 25:3 the confident expectation of the individual is generalised.
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