1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
2 Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
3 Show me your ways, O Lord, *
and teach me your paths.
4 Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
5 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
6 Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
7 Gracious and upright is the Lord; *
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
8 He guides the humble in doing right *
and teaches his way to the lowly.
9 All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
This is the Psalm of David that is either read [low church] or sung [high church] aloud in an Episcopal church on the first Sunday in Lent, the Year B. These verses are also read or sung aloud on Advent IC and Proper 10C, and [sans verse 9] on Proper 21A. So, these words are important to grasp, especially as a song of praise to the Lord at the beginning of a period of self-sacrifice.
After having presented baptism [the theme of this Sunday] in the light of marriage, one where the human [a soul-flesh combo] is the bridesmaid-in-waiting [regardless of human gender] and God is the bridegroom that decides when a marriage of permanence will take place, David began his song with the words: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you.” That is a statement that parallels the commitment words “I do” at the altar, where marriage to God by a human means the soul being merged with God’s Holy Spirit, which is most uplifting. The use of the word “trust” in translation should be read as true “faith.” Thus, a human soul being wedded to God’s Holy Spirit does not come with demands made on God; one submits fully and completely to being a subservient wife of the Lord most high, with faith that God will never let one down.
When David began verse two by singing “Let none who look to you be put to shame,” those words express that a marriage to God is not exclusive, as is a human marriage. A human-soul wife of God shares their Husband with many others. One human being is merely a drop of water from an ocean of souls-in-flesh that can also become God’s wives. All have the proposal of marriage announced to them publicly, but only a few arrive at the wedding party, with even fewer coming with their lamps filled with oil. Those who reject God’s proposal and those who accept, but then get weak knees and cold feet and turn away at the altar are those who feel embarrassed by a sacrifice of self-ego, to be forevermore led by the Christ Mind. Only those who reach the altar and say, “I do” find the truth of holy matrimony and eternal commitment.
When David was then filled with the need to sing, “Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths,” those words express how little one knows about righteousness. A new wife of God is like a sixteen year old virgin given away to an experienced man. She is a girl that knows nothing of how to please a partner. That becomes a comparison to a new body of flesh with an age-old soul that needs a loving hand guide them into the ways of human life that not only pleases God, but also pleases the body-soul life form. The ways of the Lord are love and the paths lead one to righteousness.
It is from the sacrifice of self-ego that one can be led to do what pleases the Lord, as one is then able to be submissive to God’s Will. Thus, David then sang, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.” This confirms that self-sacrifice is for a much higher reward, which can only be reached through truth. One in marriage to God will be shown the truth of the ways and paths, all of which lead the flesh-soul to eternal salvation.
David then confirmed this was for an eternity by singing, “Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.” While a human being can be seen as an innocent virgin, that is merely the absence of knowing true love and true compassion in a world where understanding such concepts must be filtered through physical sensory organs. The soul always becomes led to sin by the demands of the physical flesh. This means a soul has finally been able to say “No” to the carnal and stands naked and trembling before the One God, who holds complete judgment over a soul in His hand. This is where faith is understood to be the recognition that one cannot continue down a path to darkness, following the ways of sin. Thus, one stands before God at the altar knowing one is unworthy to be joined with pure holiness, as it can only be a union founded on absolute love and compassion.
This is why David then cried out to the Lord, “Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions.” We are all sinners coming to God for cleansing. The sins of one’s past are remembered in one’s brain, which become the pangs of guilt that confess themselves to the Lord as a way of purging the past from one’s being. Having been a soul led by the will of the flesh, one has to come to the point of denying the physical urges, but the mental reminders remain a constant lure to return to the ways of transgression. God knows one’s heart, which is the love connection that draws the bridegroom to the altar. Fear of the past will be erased by the presence of God’s love within, via baptism by the Holy Spirit.
When David then sang, “Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore he teaches sinners in his way,” he knew the blessing of having lost all worldly desires and the guidance to the ways of righteousness. The lessons taught in marriage become much more pleasing to the flesh than anything physical could ever duplicate. The ways of sin become seen as they truly are: fleeting and worthless. The ways of sin are found self-defeating.
This is why David then sang, “He guides the humble in doing right and teaches his way to the lowly.” No human being is ever more than the limits of mortality bring. No amount of money, no amount of influence and power over others will ever translate into the afterlife, when only a soul continues after the flesh has met death. The soul repeatedly stands before the Lord trembling from guilts of a life then past. Judgement is always on the soul, based on how well the soul rejected the will of the flesh and received the will of the Spirit. In that regard, all souls are humble and lowly, as only God is high and mighty. A soul that is willing to listen to the teaching of God is one that can stop repeating past mistakes, over and over again.
Thus David sang, “All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness.” There is no other way to go, once one’s soul has married with God’s Holy Spirit, other than a path set by God’s love and one’s commitment through complete faith. The lesson of love is knowing physical pleasure does not equate to true love. This is how a marriage must be tested, so one’s faithfulness can be shown to God. The wilderness experience is not some short time of sacrifice, but a continual path that tests one’s true commitment. Once that test has been passed, then a wife of God becomes a minister in the world, bringing more human beings [flesh-soul combos] that seek redemption to the altar of love and faith.