God’s purpose in our fiery trials and tribulations

by Mike Ratliff

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. 4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:1-5 NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control are sins. Our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us in attempts to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord.

Troubles will be with us until we leave these bodies to be with Him. Paul tells us that our role in this battle is to take up the whole armor of God so we can stand and not fall away. (Ephesians 6:10-20) Part of this armor is prayer. In fact, without prayer the rest of the armor would be of no effect in the battle. In this post we will look at Psalm 25, which is a prayer in which David plead with God for deliverance and forgiveness.

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. 4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your loving kindnesses, For they have been from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your  lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:1-7 NASB)

David depended on God. He prayed and lifted up his soul to God saying that his trust was in Him. His trust was not in wealth, power, or fame, but in God alone. He prayed to God that he not be put to shame by his enemies defeating him then exulting in their victory. Then David confirms that in eternity there will be no shame for the righteous, but the wicked will be ashamed continually.

David then links his hope and trust in God with his knowing God’s ways, knowing His paths, knowing His truth, and God teaching Him these things. In light of learning, knowing and living by God’s ways, paths, and truth David knows His Saviour and because of His character, he waits on God in all of his circumstances.

David then asks God to remember His tender mercies, His grace for they are eternal, as He then asks that God not remember David’s sins. Why? He asks that God do this based upon God’s goodness and for His sake, not David’s. This is asking God to be merciful to him for His glory alone.

8 Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. 11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. 12 Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. 13 His soul will abide in prosperity, And his descendants will inherit the land. 14 The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. 15 My eyes are continually toward the Lord, For He will pluck my feet out of the net. (Psalms 25:8-15 NASB)

In this passage we see David’s praise of God in periods of confidence. He recognizes that it is God who instructs sinners into His way, which is salvation. He leads His people into what is right. Notice also that those whom He teaches are the humble. Those believers who are enslaved to their flesh are also controlled by their pride. Their spiritual acuity is muted because of this. However, as they learn to walk in repentance they will become more and more humble. God instructs them and leads them into this walk. As they humble themselves before God, He teaches them. They will find that God’s ways are steadfast love and faithfulness. This means that God is faithful and believers can be completely at peace knowing that He loves them.

As we mature and learn to walk in repentance we develop an increasing sensitivity to sin. We come to hate our sin and what it does to our relationship with God. We understand that we still sin, but along with it we also grasp that our salvation is not based on our performance, but His grace. Then our appropriation of God’s promises concerning His pardoning grace becomes more and more consistent.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? David is using this question to begin a description of a genuine disciple. Those that fear God, as all genuine disciples do, are instructed in the way he or she should choose. This is saying that God does indeed direct the paths of His people into His way. The more Spirit-filled a believer becomes the more they are controlled by the Holy Spirit. They obey God naturally with their lives and thereby prove their authenticity. These believers will abide in well-being. They will have God’s joy and peace and will have purpose in their lives because their lives are directed to serving God by His grace. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. This passage describes the relationship of the genuine believer. God is loving, merciful, and gracious. However, He is also Holy, Righteous, and Just. The wise fear Him and these are the ones God shows His love to. He gives them understanding and wisdom regarding the covenant all believers have with Him. These believers follow hard after God and know that He is always with them to rescue them from the snares and wiles of the enemy. This is why those believers who are wearing God’s armor and standing in the thick of the battle against the forces of darkness can do so. They know that God is with them no matter how horrible the battle becomes.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. 18 Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins. 19 Look upon my enemies, for they are many, And they hate me with violent hatred. 20 Guard my soul and deliver me; Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. 22 Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all his troubles. (Psalms 25:16-22 NASB)

In this last section of this Psalm, David petitions God for help in trouble. Things seem to have changed. The confidence found in vv8-15 seems to have waned. David is now expressing loneliness and confesses that he is afflicted. He is isolated and his circumstances have humiliated him. He is overwhelmed and distressed. He asks that God help him out of his trouble and forgive his sins. Notice how he wants to make sure that his problems are not be exacerbated by his sins. Then David asks God to consider his foes. They are numerous and they all hate him. This has stressed him to the point that he desperately seeks deliverance. Where is the confidence he expressed earlier? He is stressed to the point that he fears for his soul. This is doubt and despair. Satan or his demons have done a work on David. However, David is falling down before God for mercy and refuge. Lastly, he tells God that He is waiting on Him and is trusting in the good work God has done in Him already as signs that God will rescue Him.

From this Psalm we learn that those who fear God are consumed in their devotion to Him. They trust Him and are moving down the path of spiritual maturity guided by God all the way. However, God does allow tribulation and opposition and evil people to attack us. Why? This causes us to trust God more. We learn that God does have an effective barricade around us against the onslaughts of the enemy. We will not be pushed or pulled into more conflict that is out of God’s control. The more we mature the more we can bear, but it is all up to God and we must wear and use the armor He has given us in order to stand and not fall away.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “God’s purpose in our fiery trials and tribulations

  1. Reblogged this on The love of God and commented:
    He always does this: brings something for me to read and devour when things are too hot to handle. Getting very sick and tired of life in general at present, so this couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Thanks again, Mike. God be with you also, Brother.

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