This psalm describes God’s character and relationship with all creation. Also, God’s promises of steadfast love and mercy are not new but long-standing promises “from of old” that continue to be fulfilled. God’s characteristics as “steadfast in love” and “merciful” indicate God’s desire for relationship with creation. God’s character and desire for relationship figure prominently in Psalm 25. Psalm 25 demonstrates two complementary dynamics of God’s relationship with creation: (1) God’s actions toward humanity and creation and (2) humanity’s response and receiving of God’s holiness.
The Advent theme of waiting comes into play in verses 3 and 5. The psalmist awaits God’s instruction. In verse 5 the psalmist also acknowledges God’s promise of salvation. Steadfast love and mercy characterize God’s salvation. That steadfast love grants forgiveness for all transgressions. God’s desire for relationship is not limited to those able to meet the requirements or maintain expectations of worthiness. Instead, God, with steadfast love and mercy, forgives all sins.
Some Christians refer to God’s forgiveness of sin as the doctrine of “justification.” As a child I learned this concept with the phrase “just as if I never sinned” as a play on the term justification. For John Wesley, the doctrine of justification indicates what God does for us, clothing us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and forgiving all sins. There is nothing we must do, or can do, to earn God’s forgiveness; it’s part of the unconditional love God freely offers to us all.
Reflect upon God’s steadfast love and mercy for you and for all humankind—and in prayer, give thanks to God.
As we prepare our hearts for Advent, the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, we remember in Jeremiah that the birth of Jesus has a deep background, a background rooted in God’s promise to David. Psalm 25, traditionally credited to David, speaks of God’s faithfulness to those who follow the paths of the Lord. David asks God to teach him to follow God’s paths even more closely. The New Testament readings actually point us toward Jesus’ second coming. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to excel in holiness and love while they wait. In Luke, Jesus discusses the coming of the kingdom in a passage that some find confusing. We note that he focuses not on the exact time frame of the arrival of the kingdom but on our need to be alert.
• Read Jeremiah 33:14-16. What has been your experience with a promise-making and promise-keeping God?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you perceive God’s instruction in your life?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. How has God’s presence buoyed you up in times of persecution or distress?
• Read Luke 21:25-36. What is your Advent posture this year? If “believing is seeing” were true in your life, what would you see?
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