Through the Bible in One Year

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Day 40

Psalm 31:1-24

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;

let me never be put to shame;

deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me,

come quickly to my rescue;

be my rock of refuge,

a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress,

for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,

for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;

deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols;

as for me, I trust in the LORD.

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,

for you saw my affliction

and knew the anguish of my soul.

You have not given me into the hands of the enemy

but have set my feet in a spacious place.

Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;

my eyes grow weak with sorrow,

my soul and body with grief.

My life is consumed by anguish

and my years by groaning;

my strength fails because of my affliction,

and my bones grow weak.

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.

I am forgotten as though I were dead;

I have become like broken pottery.

For I hear many whispering,

“Terror on every side!”

They conspire against me

and plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, LORD;

I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hands;

deliver me from the hands of my enemies,

from those who pursue me.

Let your face shine on your servant;

save me in your unfailing love.

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.

Let their lying lips be silenced,

for with pride and contempt

they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

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.

In the shelter of your presence you hide them

from all human intrigues;

you keep them safe in your dwelling

from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the LORD,

for he showed me the wonders of his love

when I was in a city under siege.

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.

Love the LORD, all his faithful people!

The LORD preserves those who are true to him,

but the proud he pays back in full.

Be strong and take heart,

all you who hope in the LORD.

This psalm is a prayer for deliverance when confronted by a conspiracy so powerful and open that all David’s friends abandoned him.  According to Luke 23:46, Jesus on the cross applied Psalm 31:5 to his own circumstances; thus those who share in his sufferings at the hands of anti-Christian forces are encouraged to hear and use this psalm in a new light.  No psalm expresses a more sturdy trust in the Lord when powerful human forces threaten.  The heart of the prayer itself is found verses 9-18, which is both preceded and followed by eight Hebrew poetic lines—stanzas that resound with the theme of trust.  Verse 13 at the center of the psalm, expresses most clearly the prayer’s occasion.

Psalm 31 is a deeply personal prayer expressing distress and sorrow because of enemies, illness and rejection by friends.  Jeremiah used a phrase from this psalm to express his sorrow and fear (Jeremiah 6:25 and 20:10).  Jesus also quoted from it while dying on the cross.  This prayer expresses the desperate cry of all followers of God who suffer because of illness, trouble, opposition from the world or spiritual enemies.  It reveals that in times of deep trouble we can hide “in the shelter of your presence” (verse 20).

And nothing expresses this better than verse 5 of this psalm which says, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.”  The first part of this verse were Jesus’ last words before his death.  And faithful followers of Christ have often used them in their dying moments.  They express dependence on God and faith in his goodness to the very end.  Committing ourselves into God’s care is appropriate during any time of danger and difficulty, which is the ultimate message of this great prayer recorded by David.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Exodus 30:11-31:18, Matthew 26:47-68, Psalm 32:1-11 and Proverbs 8:27-32