Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Augustine finds Psalm 25 to be a speech of Christ, “but in the person of the Church: for what is said has reference rather to the Christian People turned unto God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320678). In verses 1-2 the Christian soul, beaten down and weak with shame and fear, looks up to God. The plea is that the enemies would not mock the Psalmist any more, for it is the mocking encouragement of sinful patterns that brought him down in the first place. At the end of verse 3, Augustine finds the unrighteous doing “vain things” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320684). These would be the things which pass away, in contrast to the permanent good of verses 4-5. Rather than being deceived by the mocking pursuit of vanity, the Psalmist pursues God’s truth. God is the God of salvation, who Augustine sees as dismissing people from Paradise and being their only hope of return (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320690).
For this reason, in verse 6, the Psalmist calls upon God to remember his eternal compassion and to choose not to remember the Psalmist’s offensive youthful sins (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320696). Verses 8-10 speak of God in the third person, calling him “gracious and upright” and bringing people to reconciliation by His mercy. This serves to welcome the humble and teach the gentle in God’s ways, which are mercy and truth. Augustine sees that in mercy God forgives and in truth God judges, which he considers “the two advents of the Son of God, the one in mercy, the other in judgment (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320703).
Verse 11 turns attention back to address God, asking him to be merciful for the sake of His name. The one who fears God can live in forgiveness (v. 12), which Augustine observes is freedom given by God and maintained by God’s law, resulting in stability and a future hope (vv. 13-14) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320715).
Though the world is full of dangers, Augustine notes that in verses 15 and following, the Lord is the one who rescues the Christian, cares for him in lowly surroundings, and comforts him in tribulation. Significantly, in verse 16, Augustine interprets the text to speak of the humility which keeps the believer faithful, saying, “I am a simple people, keeping the lowliness of Thy single Church, which no schisms or heresies possess” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320721). For this reason, the humble Christian, in verses 18-19, calls out to God for forgiveness, asking that God would also consider the number of enemies, both within and outside of the Church. The desire is to be kept, and eventually rescued, in the company of the innocent, who together wait for God’s salvation (v. 21) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320734). It is God who redeems His people.