We should take great care in observing how the psalmist relates to God. Our eyes and hearts should be open to seeing what the psalmist appeals to and how he addresses God. How does the sinner have communion with a holy and upright God? So often when we come to God, especially after we have screwed up, we want to point to past triumphs as our ticket for entry, or we point to how repentant we are. “See, God, I am really, really sorry.” God will have none of our self-salvation projects when it comes to his grace and mercy. He will forgive for “his name’s sake” or not at all.

In Psalm 25, the psalmist appeals to God’s memory and to his character, and then he attempts to inflame God’s compassion with the desperateness of his situation.

First, listen to the way he appeals to God’s memory:

“Remember your mercy.”

“Remember your steadfast love.”

“Remember not the sins of my youth.”

“According to your steadfast love remember me.”

Now listen to the way he appeals to God’s character:

“Good and upright is the Lord.”

“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Last, observe the way he recounts his situation to God to inspire God’s mercy:

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”

“The troubles of my heart are enlarged.”

“Consider my affliction and my trouble.”

“Consider how many are my foes and with what violent hatred they hate me.”

Truly the Lord knows the psalmist’s situation, the Lord knows the psalmist’s past, and the Lord knows his own character, so why is it important for us to pray this way? The answer is of course for our own hearts. I need to be reminded every day of who God is, of who I am in relation to God, and I need to see the desperateness of my own situation. Once I see all of these things, I will gladly and wholly fall into the mercy of God. I will see how needy I am and how strong and able God is.

The Message paraphrase of verse 8 says this, “He gives the rejects his hand, and leads them step-by-step.” What God is this, that gives himself to the reject? What God takes the hand of the one who no one wants? Our God—our God who understands what it means to be the reject. Our God who became man and was “despised and reject by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The message of the world is to become a better you, to become stronger, more organized, healthier, wiser. The message of the psalmist is to see who you really are, a reject in need of a Savior. The lovely and heartwarming news is we have that Savior. We have one that understands our plight, who is near to the brokenhearted, who knows what it is like to be acquainted with grief.

So as you go to him in prayer and you pour out your heart to our God, appeal to forgiveness, appeal to his character, and tell him how desperate you are. There’s no need to act stronger than you really are in the presence of the Lord. He knows. He sees. He loves.

This post is from the book The Sinner/Saint Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms available now!