To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
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 day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, 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 decrees.
We are not called to win. We are not even called to survive. We are called to be faithful.
Being faithful means we follow the way of truth, justice, and righteousness no matter what others around us are doing, no matter what else is going on around us, no matter how dangerous it may be for us personally. Psalm 25 is the prayer of a righteous person surrounded by the unrighteous. The circumstances indicate a small group of people, or perhaps only one person, speaking truth to power while being confronted by those who are “wantonly treacherous” (v. 3).
One of the most important stanzas in this prayer is the request, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me . . .” (vv. 4-5). When there’s not much around us in the world that reflects truth or justice or righteousness, we must take our quest from the One who is Truth itself, the One who embodies Justice, the One who always displays Righteousness. And we must practice being truthful, just, and righteous on a regular basis so it becomes second nature to us when we are surrounded by falsehood, injustice, and iniquity.
In four weeks and a few days, we celebration the incarnation of the ideals of truth, justice, and righteousness in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The message to his followers will differ little from God’s call to Abram when he walked out of Haran or God’s instructions to Joshua when he walked into Canaan. Over the span of his life Jesus will teach God’s path, showing that “the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep [God’s] covenant” (v. 10). Each generation must do no less, even as the reality into which we are called is as different as it was for Abraham, Joshua, and Jesus. We might not win, we might not even survive, but when we are faithful, God’s path remains visible enabling other faithful followers to know the way.
So, begins the journey of Advent, the time of preparation, training for a life of truth, justice, and righteousness. In the end, may we each be found faithful, so that those who follow will see the way in their own journey toward faith.