The New American Bible entitles this psalm: “Confident Prayer for Forgiveness and Guidance.” Though he is a sinner and perhaps a bit worried about the sins of his youth, the psalmist relies on God’s love and willingness to forgive.
He knows that the God of the covenant will always be faithful to the divine promises. His prayer, therefore, is filled with trust that God will not abandon him.
He recognizes, however, that his enemies would like to disgrace him, but expresses his trust in confident prayer. He reminds himself (and God) of God’s goodness, compassion, and love.
He says, “My eyes are ever upon the LORD, who frees my feet from the snare. Look upon me, have pity on me.” This mutual “seeing” suggests the deep personal relationship the psalmist feels.
This prayer can help us when we are discouraged because of our weakness and when we feel abandoned by other human beings. It reminds us that we are always in the hands of a loving God.
Though without sin, Jesus could pray this psalm because he identified himself with the sinful human race. Jesus had utmost confidence in His Father, even when he was persecuted by enemies.
The psalmist prays for forgiveness, guidance, and protection from enemies.
Four times he uses the expression “wait for the LORD.” It is a confident expectation. We can almost see him looking into the cloud of eternity. Obviously it requires patience, but it is full of trust.
This psalm may help us when God seems to be delaying. It reminds us that God is in charge, that God is not our gofer, that we can grow in union with God as we wait longingly for God to come in God’s own good time.
In fact, the psalmist remembers that “All of the paths of the LORD are faithful toward those who honor the covenant demands.”
As we wait for God and long for him, he is already entering our hearts to forgive and bless us with his goodness. When God shares his goodness with us, we fear no enemies, not even our own failures.
During his passion, Jesus might have prayed this psalm as he faced his enemies and was abandoned by disciples. In praying for forgiveness, he takes into his heart all his stumbling followers, all of us, even his enemies.
Photo by Mary Carty