In western society we most often associate salvation with the forgiveness of our sins—the removal of our guilt and restoration of our innocence. This is certainly a true and important aspect of salvation, but it fails to recognize all that the Gospel accomplishes in our lives. We say yes and amen to 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” But then we pass right over texts like 1 Peter 2:6-7, “For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe.”
This is certainly not the perspective of the psalmists. Repeatedly they cry out that they not be put to shame, but that God deliver them. “In you [God] our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” (Psalm 22:4-5). The deliverance that we so long for is intimately tied up in not being put to shame! “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5). This is the hope for those who wait on the Lord. This is the hope for those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 25 is a beautiful example of God’s salvation working to free us from the guilt of sin as well as its shame. David begins, “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). Then he also says, “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions . . . for your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt for it is great” (Psalm 25:7, 11).
David is concerned with both guilt and shame. It is especially interesting to note what he says after he has asked God to pardon his guilt in verse 11. He speaks of the man who fears the Lord and then tells us what blessings await him—all of them have to do with being honored! “His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant” (Psalm 25:13-14).
Then he comes back to his need for forgiveness in verse 18, “Consider my affliction and my trouble and forgive all my sins.” Yet, even in this verse he speaks of affliction and trouble, which most certainly are concerned, at least in part, with shame. So he cries out again in verse 20, “Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
David properly understood his need. He knew that he needed deliverance from both guilt and shame. And he knew that only God could accomplish it. Our hope is that as we take refuge in God he removes our sin and our shame. Our hope lies in the fact that “though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar” (Psalm 138:6). In our humble leaning on God rather than ourselves, God shows us his regard. This is in contrast to his relationship with the haughty whom “he knows from afar.” Honor and shame are tied into relationship. The haughty who think they have honor are removed from relationship with God, while the lowly, who recognize their lack of honor before God, are brought near to him. The lowly rejoice for “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).
The sons of Korah sum it up best, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you” (Psalm 84:11-12). It is God who bestows favor and honor and therefore the one who trusts in him is truly blessed.
Read the other posts in this series:
Part 1, “Introduction”
Part 2, “What Are Honor and Shame?”
Part 3, “The Honor of Man”
Part 4, “The Shame of Sin”
Part 5, “The Honor of the King (God’s Anointed One)”
Part 6, “Honor Comes through the Shaming of Your Enemies”
Part 7, “Honor, Shame and Salvation”
Part 8, “Honor through the Shame of the Messiah”
Part 9, “We Need More than a Messiah”