Monday Morning Meditation: Dealing with Shame (Psalm 25 Series)

Several long weeks ago, I began a series on Psalm 25, my psalm for the year. We looked at just the first verse and a half (1-2a):

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.

Today we’ll look at the next verse and a half (2b-3):

Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

To assist me with my seminary graduate work, I recently purchased a Bible software package. Having just completed my first Old Testament exegesis project (do you have any questions about Nehemiah? I may just have answers!), my favorite part was having the software read the Hebrew to me.*

But I digress 🙂 Let’s put ourselves in the psalmist’s shoes for a minute (in this case, King David).

Have you ever felt ashamed?

Shame is a common human emotion. It began with Adam and Eve, after their eyes were opened to good and evil. Prior to that, they felt no shame (Genesis 2:25).

Can you even imagine what that felt like?

Shame is partially taught and partially inborn. There is such a thing as “healthy shame.” If we sin, and we think, “That was not a good choice,” or “I did something wrong,” that is healthy shame. If we sin, and think, “I am bad to my core,” or “I am a mistake,” that is not healthy shame.

Distinguishing between the two is a challenge. In fact, when I typed “dealing with shame” into, 467 resources came up.

How did David deal with his shame and fear of it?

He chose to take it to God and put his hope there.

Hope is a choice. It can be a difficult and even counter-cultural choice in a world that relies so much on what we see and feel and touch. Hope is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” according to Hebrews 6:19. But the Tyndale Commentary on this section of Hebrews rightly states that it requires tenacity, a tight hold on God and His Word, to retain that hope; it will not simply come to us or happen by chance.

What is our solution to shame today? Either healthy or unhealthy shame?  Hope in the Lord. Find your worth there. Allow your identity to be defined by the cross and not by the reactions of others.

Choose to put your hope in God first.

*I don’t know a single thing about Hebrew, but even I can learn and discover interesting aspects of the text through simply hearing a robotic voice read it to me. In fact, during this exercise, I spent way too much time playing with that feature.

I’ll just give you an example of the structure of verse 3. The word that is translated “put to shame” is in the middle of the Hebrew and is repeated. So the structure of the sentence looks something like this:
These people = no shame; shame = these people.

Repetition is a commonly used literary device in the original languages, but some of that can be lost in translation. The English here actually does a fairly good job of capturing that.