Intro: Psalm 31 really fits the title that the ESV gives it “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” In this psalm David shows himself to be totally and utterly dependent upon the Lord for his life, and salvation.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!
Main point: David is in desperate straits when he writes this Psalm. In what is a somewhat constant theme for David his once again surrounded by those who seek to harm him. This time they have laid a trap for him (v.4). They whisper all around him, and scheme against him (v.13). These evildoers, like almost all evildoers, having lying lips and speak out arrogantly against David and the others who are righteous (18). But David reminds himself that the Lord is in control. He speaks to himself, and reminds his soul that the days of his life are in the hands of the Lord, not the evildoers (v14). David then goes on to remind his listeners of the good that the Lord has in store for those who follow him (v.19). The last stanza closes it off, and really sums up the whole Psalm. He exhorts us to love to the Lord because he protects the faithful, but will deal with those who do not humble themselves before him. David has committed his life into the hands of the Lord and asks us to do the same.
Interesting Points: One important thing to do whenever you are studying the bible is to ask yourself two questions. 1)How am I like the people involved? and 2) How am I not like the people who are involved? I think these are important questions to ask with this Psalm.
The reason I start down this road is because I know at times that I think David is a little melodramatic. For example in verse 13, he begins to talk about hearing whispering all around and then writes, “Terror on every side!” Now I personally have never had this type of thing happen to me, and don’t know anyone who has. Actually it begins to sound like someone who is a paranoid schizophrenic. So for me it is important to remind myself that David is in a completely different position in life, and in a completely different era.
In the U.S. in our present day and age, we tend to think of governments as stable things. They were here before we got here, and will be here after we are gone. That wasn’t the case in David’s day. Kings rose up for a few years and often times they were assassinated. In fact the man who was King just before him met a violent end. And while David never acted on his opportunities there certainly where men around him who encouraged him to kill Saul and take his place. These were not democratic times. These were times where the powerful fought violently to gain and retain power, and David as King would have been a target of many of their schemes. David’s own son, Absalom, tried to overthrow him. So David lived in constant threat of his life, and there were not many people that he could trust.
And in a related point, David was the visible head of the Kingdom of God at this time. Just as in Christ day, and in our own day, there were powerful, supernatural forces that were acting against him. As the earthly leader and head of the Kingdom, David would have acutely felt the threat more than you or I do today. It would be akin to the great opposition that arose around Martin Luther shortly after he posted his 95 theses.
Now it is important to remind ourselves as well of how we are like David. Just like there were powerful force arrayed against him in his day, we face the same foe. And when we seek to advance the kingdom of God in our world we can bet that we will be opposed. It may not be as intense, but you can be sure that there will be those who will slander you and speak evil of you. But you can take comfort knowing that the Lord will deal with them in his own timing.
Verse 19 is my favorite verse of the Psalm I think. Things to learn from this verse :
- The great abundance of the goodness of the Lord. It is so much that the Lord has to store it up for us. It is not a small gift that He gives. It isn’t just a christmas present. His goodness is so lavish that it is like he needs to get a storehouse to hold it all.
- This goodness that he gives to the faithful is on full display in this life. David is not eying the goodness that will be ours in the life to come. He is thinking primarily of the blessing that we receive in this life.
- He is working out his goodness for us. This is a reminder that the Lord is actively involved in the lives of his saints. He isn’t simply sitting in heaven watching what unfolds. He is intimately involved in our lives; He is not just a passive observer.
Verse 20 has some great imagery. “In the cover of your presence…you hide them.” Isn’t that a great image of God himself being a shield for those love him? I kind of see us as little children hiding behind their parent for safety.
I could write about many more things, but one last thing before I wrap things up. I find it very interesting how David asks that the Lord have the evildoers go “silently” to the grave. Given how they are spreading lies and speaking insolently, it seems to be a little bit of poetic justice.
Emotional Reactions: I can feel the desperation with which David writes this Psalm. He knows that it is only the Lord who can save him, and prolong his days. However, the part of this psalms to which I am drawn, is when David reminds himself of the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord. It reminds me that he has not given me to the hands of my enemies, but I am constantly in His hands. Knowing that I can rest easy.The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Quotation information. Purchase an ESV.