Enfeebled and distracted by illness or some other affliction (vv. 16-18), the psalmist in his distress recognizes the hand of God. But the affliction has also emboldened enemies to take advantage of the psalmist's weakened condition (v. 19), perhaps seeking to discredit him publicly through mischievous slander. In such traits, the psalmist encourages us also to humbly ask God for forgiveness and for Instruction and guidance into right ways (st. 1), to appeal to God's covenant faithfulness toward those who are faithful (st. 2), and to plead for deliverance from affliction and for relief from the opportunistic attacks of enemies (st. 3). Stanley Marvin Wiersma (b. Orange City, IA, 1930; d. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1986) versified Psalm 25 in 1980 for the Psalter Hymnal.
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook
God’s children are not called to come before God’s throne with a list of accomplishments, or merits or goodness; they are called, says Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 26, to come with the humility that “…offers nothing but our need for mercy.” Such a cry for mercy comes from our “dying-away of the old self” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 88) which expresses that we are “genuinely sorry for our sin and more and more…hate and run away from it” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 89).
The gifts of renewal and pardon come only “through true faith” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 20) and are “gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merits” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 21). The very act of faith is to plead for his mercy.