The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. Psalm 25:14
How can we be sure that God will guide us? How can we know God’s will when facing a decision? Much of Psalm 25 is a lamentation about struggle, pressure, difficulty, and failure. But if we look at the Psalm more carefully, we find that it is punctuated, in the midst of struggle, by the Psalmist looking for, and finding the guidance of his God. In Psalm 25 we find David teaching the believer along the pathways of life, in particular those more treacherous pathways, and offering counsel in how know God along the way.
The Psalm begins with a prayer for personal guidance. Rather than offering God’s personal unlisted cell-phone number, the Psalmist first teaches us that God’s will is discovered in the general instruction that He gives us in His ways. Many people who struggle knowing God’s will, do so because they are slothful when it comes to looking in God’s directory – the Bible. And this does not refer to any kind of mystical process of closing one’s eyes and sticking a pin in the Bible; that is not how we learn God’s will, for example as to whom we shall marry – lest we end up spending our lives looking for someone named Bathsheba or Mahershalalhashbaz. What the Psalmist refers to in verses 4-5 is that God’s will becomes evident through the systematic application of Biblical principles to one’s life.
Secondly we learn that God’s will usually includes waiting (v. 5 & 21). We might say that to be a Christian requires that we wait. Why? Because God is far more interested in what He is doing in you than what He is doing with you. We can say that God is not very interested in what we do or when we do it; but He is most interested in how doing what you do makes you what you are; and learning to wait often builds the character of who we are.
Thirdly we learn to know God’s will, as we learn to trust His character. In verses 6-10, the Psalmist is giving an account of God’s attributes – His mercy and love (v. 5,6), His goodness (v. 7, 8), His faithfulness to keep His covenant (v. 10). The more you know God, the more you will be like Him, and more we may walk in confidence knowing that our steps are ordered by Him. The more we know Him, the more we trust His pathway for our life more than we trust our own sin-tainted wishes and desires.
In all this, Psalm 25 says nothing about: Where you need to live? Who you should marry? What job you need to do? Or where you will serve Christ for the rest of your life? But instead the Psalm presents dispositions of the heart that will help you to know God’s will, as He unfolds it. Wait on God and know that He is absolutely without fail, wholly good to His people. When you grasp that you can wait for Him, and rest in Him, and delight yourself in Him knowing that He will grant the desires of your heart.