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Psalm 31:1-12

The Believer’s Humble and Confident Submission to the Hand of God.

To the chief musician, for performance in the liturgical part of the Tabernacle worship, a psalm of David, written at some time when he was in very great trouble. Luther rightly makes the application when he writes that the psalm is spoken in the person of Christ and His saints, who are plagued during their whole life, internally by trembling and alarm, externally by persecution, slander, and contempt, for the sake of the Word of God, and yet are delivered by God from them all and receive the fullness of divine comfort.

A CONFIDENT ENTREATY. — V. 1. In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust, having taken refuge with Yahweh, sheltered by His almighty power; let me never be ashamed, such shame bringing disgrace also upon Him to whom he entrusted himself; deliver me in Thy righteousness, by a manifestation of His essence which would prove Him to be the righteous God. V. 2. Bow down Thine ear to me, in the attitude of most careful attention; deliver me speedily, since the need was so urgent. Be Thou my strong Rock, a pinnacle of defense, for an house of defense, a fortress, or stronghold, to save me. This is the humble, but bold and courageous manner in which a believer may at all times approach his heavenly Father. 

V. 3. For Thou art my Rock and my Fortress, it was because David knew this that he prayed so confidently; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me and guide me, rather, “Thou wilt lead me and guide me,” for it expresses the strong hope and confidence that it will be done according to the believer’s faith and prayer. V. 4. Pull me out of the net, again a definite statement, “Thou wilt bring me out of the net,” that they have laid privily for me, Ps. 9, 15; 25, 15; for Thou art my Strength, his Defense and Bulwark. 

V. 5. Into Thine hand I commit my spirit, in all the vicissitudes of life, in all the dangers of death, he places the life of his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father, as in the safest place of deposit, as also Jesus and Stephen did, Luke 23, 36; Acts 7, 59; Thou hast redeemed me, from all evils and dangers that beset the path of mortals here below, O Lord God of truth, whose Word and promise is secure at all times. Note that the spirit of faith is like the spirit of prophecy, speaking of things in the future with the certainty of fulfillment. 

V. 6. I have hated them that regard lying vanities, those who place their trust in vain idols; but I trust in the Lord, the emphasis being placed on the contrast, the “I” being stressed, as was the “Thou” in v. 4. V. 7. I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy, with exultant joy over God’s act of grace upon him; for Thou hast considered my trouble, regarding it for the sake of relieving the sufferer; Thou hast known my soul in adversities, not ignored it, but taken note of its needs, v. 8. and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy, to be a miserable captive, subject to every form of indignity; Thou hast set my feet in a large room, in a wide place, where he would not be hindered by the enemies. 

With all these evidences of God’s loving-kindness in mind, the psalmist again sounds his prayer. V. 9. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, being gracious to the unworthy, for I am in trouble, distressed and oppressed; mine eye is consumed with grief, wasted away with vexation, yea, my soul and my belly, his entire person, including both his spiritual and physical activities and experiences. V. 10. For my life is spent, consumed, eaten up, with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, by reason of the suffering which, as a punishment, followed his transgression, and my bones are consumed, wasted away with fear and dread. 

Note that David, and all believers with him, regards his sin as the real cause of his troubles. 

V. 11. I was a reproach among all mine enemies, rather, “Because of all mine adversaries I have become a reproach,” on account of their continual nagging and jeering, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance, a burden to his nearest neighbors and a terror to all who knew him, on account of the reports spread about him, which laid every form of evil to his charge. They that did see me without fled from me, with an aversion due to the reports circulated about him. V. 12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind, consigned to oblivion by men, out of sight, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel, one that is perishing, about to be discarded as unfit.