6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions:
according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.
In a way, William Shakespeare was right when he had Marc Antony say, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” (Act 3, scene 2, “Julius Caesar”) That is certainly the way we remember politicians and rulers, and even saints aren’t beyond the reach of muckrakers seeking to soil a good name. But I think when we love someone, we really do tend to overlook their faults and remember only the good. Just yesterday, I came across a note I had received from my late wife just a couple months after we first met, and she had signed it, “Someone who can’t get enough of you.” Those are the things I remember about her. Yes, when she was alive, there were certainly things that drove me batty, but now that she’s gone, I can’t seem to remember them. Love does that. Like the apostle Paul said, love “keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)
In today’s verses from Psalms 25, David is relying on that quality of God’s love. The psalmist is appealing to God’s mercy to forget all the ways he might have offended the Lord. Like the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus (Luke 23:39-43), David asks to be remembered as someone who knows and loves God, someone who may have led a prodigal life but who wishes to be remembered not for his past misdeeds but for his current faith. Is that not the mercy we seek every day? Do we not often pray “And forgive us our debts”?
But why should God forgive our debt of sin? David tells us twice in this psalm: “for they goodness’ sake,” “for thy name’s sake.” (v.7,11) You see, whatever God does for us, He does not because we are worthy of it but because HE is worthy of it, because God Himself is glorified in it, exalted by it. Whatever God does in His mercy reflects honor upon Him, and whatever He has done or will do for those who seek that mercy, His name alone should be remembered.
David is appealing to God’s tender mercies, His unending love for His beloved Israel–and His love for all of Creation. David is repenting before the God who is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) David is praying to the God who is alone able to blot out his transgressions and even to wash him white as snow. David is seeking the mercy that alone will bring him to righteousness, for the psalmist knows that he himself is incapable of such goodness. David is saying to God the Father, “Remember who YOU are and, please, forget who I was.”
Today, I remember the things that made me love my late wife: her smile, her wit, her kindness, her compassion, her warmth, her humility. In love, I forget and forgive the ways she may have wronged me. God’s love compels Him to do the same for us. (John 3:16-17) So let us join David in his simply plea, “According to thy mercy remember thou me.”
O Lord, remember me not as who I am or have been, but as who I want to be. Remember me, Father God, not as a rebel and sinner but as a faithful child. Remember me not as deserving of Your wrath, but as a supplicant seeking Your mercy. Remember me through the eyes of Your Son, Christ Jesus. Remember me according to Your love. Lord God, teach me Your goodness and mercy so that only Your name shall be remembered. Amen.