So when the psalmist asks in vs. 7 “do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions”, I wonder where that takes you and what memories it just might elicit? I have a number of memories of my youth that I am so grateful that the Lord does not remember and has cancelled them completely out of his memory bank. Now, those are sins that I committed and times that I was unwise and young and foolish. It is those times that I am grateful that according to God’s steadfast love He remembers me.
But what about those times that we have been transgressed against and we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for that transgression even if we were the victims. I don’t want to speak on behalf of anyone because personally I have not been subjected to any traumatic experiences as a youth where I was the victim of a heinous crime. I think of the many women to whom I minister who have had life changing experiences when they were young and violated in a variety of ways. These are not in any way the “sins” of their youth, but they have a hard time shaking off that experience as something that wasn’t partly their fault. It is in those moments of counseling that I want to raise this psalm and remind them that they are the victim and victims do not in any way contribute to the crime and the horror to which they are subjected. But it is hard to get that across. I don’t raise this psalm to them because those life changing moments are not moments of their sin but rather moments when they were subjected to someone else’s sin.
If we go back to verses 1 and 2 these would be verses more appropriate to those who have suffered in this way. The psalmist lifts up their soul. Let’s pretend that this psalm was written by a woman and read it again and see if it sounds different to you. When she says I lift up my soul, I can see the look in her eyes of desperation as she reaches out for help. The Psalmist reinforces that it is in God that she trusts and asks that she not be put to shame or that her enemies not be allowed to be over her.
Jump to vs.9 and still see the writer as a woman who is trying to climb her way out of a painfully tragic situation in her past. God does lead the way of the humble. Jump to vs.16 and you will find more words of comfort, turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and bring me out of my distress. I do not think that people in this situation need to ask God to forgive them of their sin as vs.18 states. Hear me out on this one. We all need to be forgiven of our sin, yes, absolutely. But when you are struggling with an event and an occurrence in your life to which you have been subjected it is my experience that more often than not you feel as if you have had a hand in that event to the point where you feel like it is your sin, your fault. That is something that I am always trying to eradicate.
Until an individual is able to see their worth in the eyes of God no matter what they have been through, they will almost always define themselves through the eyes of whomever has the most pull in their lives. Those who live in situations of abuse and trauma will often identify themselves through the eyes of the person who is causing that abuse and trauma. I don’t know why these thoughts came to me while reading this psalm, but they do. If you know someone who has been through these types of experiences have them read psalm 25.