God’s promises are here mixed with David’s prayers. Many petitions there were in the former part of the psalm, and many we shall find in the latter; and here, in the middle of the psalm, he meditates upon the promises, and by a lively faith sucks and is satisfied from these breasts of consolation; for the promises of God are not only the best foundation of prayer, telling us what to pray for and encouraging our faith and hope in prayer, but they are a present answer to prayer. Let the prayer be made according to the promise, and then the promise may be read as a return to the prayer; and we are to believe the prayer is heard because the promise will be performed. But, in the midst of the promises, we fine one petition which seems to come in somewhat abruptly, and should have followed upon Ps. 25:7. It is that (Ps. 25:11), Pardon my iniquity. But prayers for the pardon of sin are never impertinent; we mingle sin with all our actions, and therefore should mingle such prayers with all our devotions. He enforces this petition with a double plea. The former is very natural: “For thy name’s sake pardon my iniquity, because thou hast proclaimed thy name gracious and merciful, pardoning iniquity, for thy glory-sake, for thy promise-sake, for thy own sake,” Isa. 43:25. But the latter is very surprising: “Pardon my iniquity, for it is great, and the greater it is the more will divine mercy be magnified in the forgiveness of it.” It is the glory of a great God to forgive great sins, to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin, 34:7. “It is great, and therefore I an undone, for ever undone, if infinite mercy do not interpose for the pardon of it. It is great; I see it to be so.” The more we see of the heinousness of our sins the better qualified we are to find mercy with God. When we confess sin we must aggravate it.
Let us now take a view of the great and precious promises which we have in these verses, and observe,
I. To whom these promises belong and who may expect the benefit of them. We are all sinners; and can we hope for any advantage by them? Yes (Ps. 25:8), He will teach sinners, though they be sinners; for Christ came into the world to save sinners, and, in order to that, to teach sinners, to call sinners to repentance. These promises are sure to those who though they have been sinners, have gone astray, yet now keep God’s word, 1. To such as keep his covenant and his testimonies (Ps. 25:10), such as take his precepts for their rule and his promises for their portion, such as, having taken God to be to them a God, live upon that, and, having given up themselves to be him a people, live up to that. Though, through the infirmity of the flesh, they sometimes break the command, yet by a sincere repentance when at any time they do amiss, and a constant adherence by faith to God as their God, they keep the covenant and do not break that. 2. To such as fear him (Ps. 25:12 and again Ps. 25:14), such as stand in awe of his majesty and worship him with reverence, submit to his authority and obey him with cheerfulness, dread his wrath and are afraid of offending him.
II. Upon what these promises are grounded, and what encouragement we have to build upon them. Here are two things which ratify and confirm all the promises:—1. The perfections of God’s nature. We value the promise by the character of him that makes its. We may therefore depend upon God’s promises; for good and upright is the Lord, and therefore he will be as good as his word. He is so kind that he cannot deceive us, so true that he cannot break his promise. Faithful is he who hath promised, who also will do it. He was good in making the promise, and therefore will be upright in performing it. 2. The agreeableness of all he says and does with the perfections of his nature (Ps. 25:10): All the paths of the Lord (that is, all his promises and all his providences) are mercy and truth; they are, like himself, good and upright. All God’s dealings with his people are according to the mercy of his purposes and the truth of his promises; all he does comes from love, covenant-love; and they may see in it his mercy displayed and his word fulfilled. What a rich satisfaction may this be to good people, that, whatever afflictions they are 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.
III. What these promises are.
1. That God will instruct and direct them in the way of their duty. This is most insisted upon, because it is an answer to David’s prayers (Ps. 25:4, 5), Show me thy ways and lead me. We should fix our thoughts, and act our faith, most on those promises which suit our present case. (1.) He will teach sinners in the way, because they are sinners, and therefore need teaching. When they see themselves sinners, and desire teaching, then he will teach them the way of reconciliation to God, the way to a well-grounded peace of conscience, and the way to eternal life. He does, by his gospel, make this way known to all, and, by his Spirit, open the understanding and guide penitent sinners that enquire after it. The devil leads men blindfold to hell, but God enlightens men’s eyes, sets things before them in a true light, and so leads them to heaven. (2.) The meek will he guide, the meek will he teach, that is, those that are humble and low in their own eyes, that are distrustful of themselves, desirous to be taught, and honestly resolved to follow the divine guidance. Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears. These he will guide in judgment, that is, by the rule of the written word; he will guide them in that which is practical, which relates to sin and duty, so that they may keep conscience void of offence; and he will do it judiciously (so some), that is, he will suit his conduct to their case; he will teach sinners with wisdom, tenderness, and compassion, and as they are able to bear. He will teach them his way. All good people make God’s way their way, and desire to be taught that; and those that do so shall be taught and led in that way. (3.) Him that feareth the Lord he will teach in the way that he shall choose, either in the way that God shall choose or that the good man shall choose. It comes all to one, for he that fears the Lord chooses the things that please him. If we choose the right way, he that directed our choice will direct our steps, and will lead us in it. If we choose wisely, God will give us grace to walk wisely.
2. That God will make them easy (Ps. 25:13): His soul shall dwell at ease, shall lodge in goodness, marg. Those that devote themselves to the fear of God, and give themselves to be taught of God, will be easy, if it be not their own fault. The soul that is sanctified by the grace of God, and, much more, that is comforted by the peace of God, dwells at ease. Even when the body is sick and lies in pain, yet the soul may dwell at ease in God, may return to him, and repose in him as its rest. Many things occur to make us uneasy, but there is enough in the covenant of grace to counterbalance them all and to make us easy.
3. That he will give to them and theirs as much of this world as is good for them: His seed shall inherit the earth. Next to our care concerning our souls is our care concerning our seed, and God has a blessing in store for the generation of the upright. Those that fear God shall inherit the earth, shall have a competency in it and the comfort of it, and their children shall fare the better for their prayers when they are gone.
4. That God will admit them into the secret of communion with himself (Ps. 25:14): The secret of the Lord is with those that fear him. They understand his word; for, if any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, John 7:17. Those that receive the truth in the love of it, and experience the power of it, best understand the mystery of it. They know the meaning of his providence, and what God is doing with them, better than others. Shall I hide from Abraham the things that I do? Gen. 18:17. He call them not servants, but friends, as he called Abraham. They know by experience the blessings of the covenant and the pleasure of that fellowship which gracious souls have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. This honour have all his saints.