To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.

Psalm 25:1,2

I was reading through Psalm 25 today and got stuck on these first two verses. It's so easy to glide right over them and move on to the rest of the passage. But all Scripture is inspired and is Life and Light...so let's unpack these verses and see the nuggets of gold in them!

I lift up my soul - what does that mean? To be expecting return from, to be dependent upon, to bring to expectantly - that is what is meant by "lift up". Lifting up "my soul" means getting the needs of our emotions met. Our needs for love and security and significance. Our expectations. So these few words tell us a lot - the psalmist expresses the idea that his soul is to be fulfilled in the Lord.

Don't pass over that. Think about it for a minute. What else are we tempted to "lift up our souls" to, expecting fulfillment and peace and significance? For moms, it could be our kids. (Oh what a slippery slope!) It might be educational achievement or a career. Or our looks (Lord, help us!) We might "lift up our soul" to our position in the community - or in the church - hoping that others' view of us will fill up the cavern inside. We can "lift up our soul" to material success or leisure activities or food. Good things tempt us to expect more than they can deliver. Relationships included.

Only to find out that our soul soon feels empty again. Disappointed. Frustrated. Even angry.
But we keep lifting it up to the same impotent things again and again.

The psalmist sets the successful example for us. Lifting up our soul to the Only One who does not disappoint. The Glorious Lord. The Creator and Sustainer. The Savior. The Only One we can fully trust. With our expectations.

I love the next two phrases. Here, the psalmist pulls back the curtain of his soul...and ours...to reveal the root of "lifting up to all the wrong places."

Fear of failure
Fear of shame

We go to great lengths to avoid the pain of these feelings. We shelter ourselves in flimsy fortresses of self-protection and not trying the difficult things. (Which might include forgiving one who has wronged you or pursuing a new career or breaking the stronghold of addiction) We are afraid to fail because we fear the resulting shame. What if we get hurt again? What if others see our failure and label us as such? What if we get rejected? What if our expectations are not met? The anticipated pain of that drives us to all sorts of places. Places where we expect relief.

Verse 3 gives us the assurance that
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;

Friends, we are designed by God to "lift up our souls" to Him. Therefore, we will indeed lift up our souls. To something. The Enemy of our souls tempts us with things that will not satisfy. Even good things that God intends for us to enjoy....not to expect full souls from. And he (our Enemy) tries to tie our arms around these things with strands of fear. Fear of failure and shame.

The only fear we need to have is that of the Lord. He alone can be trusted to protect us, to give us significance and acceptance and security. When we put our trust in Him, when we "lift up our souls" to Him alone, we will cease to fear anything man can do to us.