Read Psalm 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
as for me, I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
Like we’ve read in previous Psalms of David, he begins with a prayer request for deliverance (again) and ends with praise for God’s goodness and faithfulness (again). He starts with a plea for rescue and ends with confidence in God’s character. From plea to praise seems to be David’s anthem cry.
It feels a bit like riding a roller coaster of emotion. One high moment of trust and confidence. One low moment of despair and fear. Yet, God never turns His back on those who ask hard and honest questions. He never turns away from the emotionally unsettled or the ones who in one minute trust and the next minute despair. We simply will never find a story in the Bible that contradicts the character and nature of God being a good Father, a good Shepherd—patient with those who repeat the same prayer request…again. And again.
It’s not a sin to doubt. Disbelief is a sin. Earnestly and honestly seeking answers and desiring more faith to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness is acceptable to God. We see that wrestle in the lives of Moses, Abraham, and David. They all struggled at times to understand God; yet, their lives modeled total dependence and trust in a God who sustains and holds all things together simply by His powerful word (Heb. 1:3).
And, so, David appeals to God for deliverance…again. David’s transparency is a good model for us. Note the language he uses to describe how he feels in verses 9-13: consumed with grief, strength is failing, ridiculed, forgotten (not only by enemies, but also by friends). Note that he tells God how he feels, even though he already acknowledged his trust and reliability in God. It’s important for us to remember this truth: Feelings are real, but they are not reliable.
There is no safer shelter than living under the Lord’s covering and care. In spite of all his pain and trouble, David trusts God. He committed and submitted his entire life into God’s hand, into God’s care. And, David anticipated deliverance and protection because of God’s character and goodness, not his own.
David closes his psalm by encouraging fellow worshippers (that includes us) to love God, be strong and courageous, and put our trust and hope in Him. When trouble and trials come (and they will), where will you place your trust?
- What surprises you about this chapter? What confuses you?
- What do you learn from David’s approach to prayer? His approach to God?
- What is one application you take away from this chapter? How does what you’ve read today apply to you?
Did you know?
Psalm 31 is often quoted in other parts of Scripture:
- The author of Psalm 71 quotes the first three verses of Psalm 31 to start Psalm 71.
- Jonah seems to quote Psalm 31:6 in Jonah 2:8, his prayer from the belly of the great fish.
- Jeremiah quoted Psalm 31:13 six times, in Jeremiah 6:25; 20:3; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29, and Lamentations 2:22.
- Most significantly, Psalm 31:5 was quoted by Jesus Christ on the cross as His final words before yielding His life (Luke 23:46).
- The first martyr of the church, Stephen, also alluded to Psalm 31:5 (Acts 7:59).