Thoughts from Psalm 31

When the Lord's people suffer, whether from natural disasters or at the hands of an enemy, to whom should they turn? What should be their source of comfort?

Although Psalms 31 cannot be dated or linked to any particular event in King David's life, we know that his heart was deeply troubled by something or somebody. Was it his experience with King Saul jealousy? Did he pray this prayer as he was fleeing the 3,000 soldiers deputed to take his life? Was this request made to God during personal trials he endured after his unfortunate sin with Bathsheba? Maybe it was during his flight from his own son Absalom or perhaps his son Adonija? No doubt many such requests were uttered during David's lifetime, but by inspiration he writes this prayer of praise to God and begs his deliverance.

In David's prayer, we see the same desperate plea for help that is spoken in two death scenes in the New Testament:
David says, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit" (Psalms 31:5a).
"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit' " (Luke 23:46).
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).
Such feelings can only be known by those who have come to the valley of the shadow of death.

What were his enemies saying about him?
"For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous" (Psalm 31:13-18).
"I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me" (Psalm 31:11).

Nothing can crush the spirit more thoroughly than rejection from people we love. David knew such rejection from his own "familiar friends." He says, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9). This prophecy is fully understood when Christ spoke of Judas. "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me" (John 13:18).

What is the conclusion to David's prayer? He says, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD" (Psalm 31:24). Let us all put our trust in our Heavenly Father and remember that He only can change the direction of our lives.

Beth Johnson

Published in The Old Paths Archive