It is probable that David penned this psalm when he was persecuted by Saul. It is a mixture of prayers, and praises and professions of confidence in God, all of which go well together and are helpful to one another. Praise to God in His Holiness and Majesty.
Psalm 31 – A Psalm of David
In You, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In Your righteousness deliver me! Incline Your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For You are my rock and my fortress; and for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me. You take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for You are my refuge.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the distress of my soul, and You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbours, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Let me not be put to shame
Make Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your steadfast love! O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon You; let the wicked be put to shame and go silently to Sheol. Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. 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! 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.
Blessed be the Lord, for He has wondrously shown His steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. 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. Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Faith and prayer must go together
Henry says – Faith and prayer must go together. He who believes, let him pray—I believe, therefore I have spoken. And he who prays ought to believe, for the prayer of faith is the prevailing prayer. When David was in distress he was very fervent in prayer with God for help and relief. The expectation of help eases a burdened spirit, fetches in promised mercies and wonderfully supports and comforts the soul. He prays that God would deliver him (Ps. 31:1) and that his life would be preserved from the malice of his enemies.
He asks that God in His mercy would deliver him and bow down His ear to his appeals and deliver him, Ps. 31:2. God humbles Himself to take notice of the case of the greatest and best of men. David prays also that He would deliver him quickly that his faith will not fail. If this deliverance was not to come immediately, David asks that God would protect and shelter him in his troubles; “Be my strong rock”. We may pray that God’s providence would secure our lives and comforts, and that by His grace we can be safe in Him, Prov. 18:10.
Order my steps aright
David’s case here was a difficult one and he prays that he would be under Divine guidance: “Lord, lead me and guide me (Ps. 31:3), so order my steps and my spirit, that I may never do anything unlawful nor unwise.” Those who resolve to follow God’s direction may in faith pray for it. His enemies were very crafty and spiteful and he prays that God would frustrate their plans against him (Ps. 31:4): “Pull me out of the net that they have laid for me, and keep me from the sin, the trouble, the death, they aim to entrap me in.”
In this prayer he gives glory to God by a repeated profession of his confidence in Him and dependence on Him. This encouraged his prayers and qualified him for the mercies he prayed for (Ps. 31:1): “In You, O Lord! do I put my trust, and not in any sufficiency of my own, or in any other creature; let me never be ashamed.” He had chosen God for his protector, and God had, by His promise, undertaken to be so (Ps. 31:3): “You are my rock and my fortress, by Your covenant with me and my believing consent to that covenant; therefore be my strong rock,” Ps. 31:2.
But I trust in the Lord
Those who have in sincerity pledged the Lord to be theirs may expect the benefit of His being so. You are my strength, Ps. 31:4. If God be our strength, we may hope that He will put His strength in us and put forth His strength for us. David gave up his soul in a special way to Him (Ps. 31:5): Into Your hands I commit my spirit. If David here looks upon himself as a dying man, he resigns his departing soul to God who initially gave it. “Men can but kill the body, but I trust in God to redeem my soul from the power of the grave,” Ps. 49:15.
David is willing to die if God allows it; but let my soul fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are great. With these words our Lord Jesus yielded up His Spirit upon the cross, and made His soul a free-will offering for sin. He voluntarily laid down His life a ransom. By Stephen’s example we are taught in our dying moment, to look to Christ at God’s right hand, and to commit our spirits to Him: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
I entrust Him with it
David is here to be looked upon as a man in distress and trouble. His greatest care is about his soul, his spirit, his better part. Our outward afflictions should increase our concern for our souls. Many think that while they are perplexed about worldly affairs they may be excused if they neglect their souls. But the greater hazard our lives are in, the more we are concerned to look to our souls. Whilst the outward man perish, the inward man may then suffer no damage (2 Cor. 4:16). We can keep possession of our souls when we can keep possession of nothing else, Luke 21:19.
He thinks the best he can do for his soul is to commit it into the hand of God, and entrust it with him. He had prayed (Ps. 31:4) to be plucked out of the net of outward trouble. Yet immediately commits his spirit into God’s hand. “Lord, however it goes with me, as to my body, let it go well with my soul.” It is the wisdom and duty of everyone of us to solemnly commit our spirits into the hands of God. There they may be sanctified by His grace, devoted to His honour, employed in His service and fitted for His kingdom. God has not only created us, but redeemed us so let this encourage us to commit our spirits into His hands.
Preserved to His Heavenly Kingdom
The redemption of the soul is so precious. Christ has shown the extraordinary kindness and concern He has for them, which encourages us to commit them to Him, to be preserved to His Heavenly Kingdom (2 Tim. 1:12). David disclaimed all union with those who made an arm of flesh their confidence (Ps. 31:6): I have hated those that regard lying vanities—those idolaters who expect help from false gods. David abhorred the use of enchantments and divinations. He never consulted in them or even took notice of, the flight of birds or entrails of beasts, good omens or bad omens.
They are lying vanities, and he hated the wickedness of those who did. He trusted in God only, and not in any creature. See Ps. 40:4; Jer. 17:5. He comforted himself with his hope in God, and made himself, not only at ease, but cheerful, with it, Ps. 31:7. Having relied on God’s mercy, he will be glad and rejoice in it. Those who do not know how to value their hope in God, cannot find joy in that hope to silence their griefs.
God’s eye is upon our souls
He encouraged himself in this hope from past experiences. God had taken notice of his afflictions: “You have considered my trouble, with compassion regarding my lowly state.” God observes the temperament of our spirit in our afflictions: “You have known my soul in adversities, with a tender concern for it.” God’s eye is upon our souls when we are in trouble, to see whether they be humbled for sin, submissive to the will of God and improved by the affliction. When we are being afflicted, if the soul has been lifted up to God in true devotion, He knows it.
When Christ was on the cross, He used the words in verse 5 of this Psalm: “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit”. Christ trusted in His Father and was delivered by Him. Because He humbled Himself, He was highly exalted. May we acknowledge the experience we have had of God’s gracious presence with us in our troubles and encourage ourselves to trust in Him for the future.
He freely confesses his iniquity
In this Psalm David was a type of Christ—who was intimately acquainted with grief and often in tears. We may guess by David’s complexion, which was ruddy, by his genius for music, and by his daring enterprises in his early days, that his natural disposition was cheerful. Yet here he is brought low: he has almost wept out his eyes, and sighed away his breath.
His body was afflicted with the sorrows of his mind (Ps. 31:10): My strength fails, my bones are consumed, and all because of my iniquity. David owns that this was an affliction that God had laid upon him and so he must deserve it. As a result he freely confesses his iniquity which he believed to have been the cause of all his trouble. The sense of sin touched him to the core and affected him more than all his troubles. His friends were unkind and became shy of him. He was a fear to his acquaintance, when they saw him they fled from him, Ps. 31:11. They dared not give him any assistance for fear of being brought into trouble by it. He was looked upon with contempt as a broken vessel.
I was kept from sinking
The world is full of such shallow-friends. Let those who fall on the losing side not think it strange if they be deserted. But there is a friend in heaven who will not fail them. His enemies persecuted him and represented him as a bad man. He heard the slander of many; everyone had a stone to throw at him, because fear was on every side. They did not want to appear to be in opposition to Saul, David’s ardent enemy. David knew that his enemies planned not only to take away his liberty, but his very life (Ps. 31:13). Likewise in all the plots of the Pharisees against Christ, still the plan was to take away His life, such is the enmity and cruelty of the serpent’s seed.
Everything looked black and dismal around him and threatened to drive him to despair: “But I trusted in You, O Lord! (Ps. 31:14) and so was kept from sinking.” His enemies robbed him of his reputation among men, but they could not rob him of his comfort in God. He went to God and pleaded with him:—“You are my God; I have chosen You for myself, and You have promised to be mine”. If He be ours and we can by faith call Him to be so, it is enough even when we have nothing else. “You are my God; and therefore to whom shall I go for relief but to You?”
My times are in Your hands
If God undertake to be our God then we may say, ”My times are in Your hand.” If God has our times in His hand, He can help us. And if He be our God, He will help us and so what can discourage us? It is a great comfort and support to those who have God for their God that their times are in His hand. He will be sure to order and dispose them for the best. The times of life is in God’s hands, to lengthen or shorten, embitter or sweeten, as He pleases, according to the counsel of His will. Our times (all events that concern us, and the timing of them) are at God’s disposal. They are not in our own hands, for the way of man is not in himself but in God’s. “Thy will be done.”
God knows how to choose the best time for our deliverance, and we must be willing to wait for that time. When David had Saul at his mercy in the cave those around him said, “This is the time in which God will deliver you,” 1 Sam. 24:4. “No,” says David, “the time has not come for my deliverance till it can be brought without sin. I will wait for that time, for it is God’s time, and that is the best time.” He prays that God would give him the comfort of His favour in the meantime (Ps. 31:16): “Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; let me have the evidences of Your favour to me, and that shall put gladness in my heart in the midst of all my griefs.”
They will be silenced
He prays that his hopes in God would be accomplished (Ps. 31:17): “Let me not be ashamed of my hopes and prayers, for I have called upon You. You who never said to Your people, Seek Me and hope in vain.” David asks that shame and silence would be the portion of the wicked, particularly his enemies. They were confident that they would ruin him, “Lord,” says he, “let them be disappointment and so be ashamed,” Let them be silent in the grave. Death will silence the rage and clamour of cruel persecutors. In the grave the wicked cease from troubling others.
Particularly, he prays for the silencing of those who reproach the people of God (Ps. 31:18): Let lying lips be put to silence, who speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. Those who set their mouth against the heavens commonly revile the heirs of heaven. Everyone who seriously professes faith are spoken against everywhere. They speak grievous things, on purpose to vex them, hoping to do them a real injury. They speak hard things with a great deal of falsehood: They are lying lips, taught by the father of lies and serving his interest.
God is good to all
They would think it was no sin to tell a deliberate lie if it might serve to expose a good man to hatred or contempt. Hear us, O our God! for we are despised. We may pray in faith; for these lying lips shall be put to silence. God has many ways of doing it. Sometimes He convinces the consciences of those who reproach His people, and turns their hearts. Sometimes by His providence He breaks their defamations and brings the righteousness of His people into the light. However, there is a day coming when God will convince ungodly sinners of the falsehood they have spoken against His people and will execute judgment upon them, Jude 1:14, 15.
David now acknowledges God’s goodness to His people in general, Ps. 31:19, 20. God is good to all, but He is, in a special manner, good to His own. His goodness to them is wonderful, and will be, to eternity: O how great is Your goodness! How rich are the treasures of it! Those very persons whom men load with slanders, God loads with benefits and honours. Those who stand in awe of His greatness and rely on His grace are those who fear God and trust in Him. This goodness is said to be laid up for them and wrought for them.
Reserved in heaven
There is a goodness laid up for them in the other world, an inheritance reserved in heaven (1 Pet. 1:4). Yet there is a goodness wrought for and in them in this world. There is enough in the portion and inheritance of God’s goodness to maintain His children in their former years and when they have come to maturity. There is enough in bank and enough in hand.
This goodness is laid up for all who fear God. To those assurance is given that they shall be in want of no good thing. It is brought about in the carrying out of the promise, for those who trust in Him. By faith they take hold of the promise, and draw it out for themselves the benefit and comfort of it. Those who trust in God, have the comfort of His goodness in their own hearts and can have the credit of it. God’s goodness to them puts an honour upon them; for all who see them shall acknowledge that they are the seed which the Lord has blessed, Isa. 61:9.
He is the protector of His own people
God preserves man and beast, but in a special manner, He is the protector of His own people (Ps. 31:20): You shall hide them. The saints are God’s hidden ones. Proud men insult them and would trample on them. Contentious men pick quarrels with them and, when tongues are at strife, good people often fall by the worst. The pride of men endangers their liberty; the strife of tongues in disputes endangers truth. But they are under a defence: You shall hide them in the secret of Your presence. God’s providence shall keep them safe from the malice of their enemies. He has many ways of sheltering them. When Baruch and Jeremiah were sought after the Lord hid them, Jer. 36:26.
God’s grace shall keep them safe from the evil judgments. To them they have no sting and they shall be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. His comforts shall keep them at ease and cheerful. His sanctuary, where they have communion with Him, shelters them from the fiery darts of terror and temptation. The mansions in His house above shall be shortly and eternally their hiding-place from all danger and fear.
Blessed be the Lord
Having admired God’s goodness to all the saints, David here owns how good he had found Him to be. Around him were fightings; but God had wonderfully preserved his life: “He has shown me His marvellous loving-kindness. He has given me an instance of His care for me and favour to me, beyond what I could have expected.” God’s loving-kindness to His people, all things considered, is wonderful. But some instances of it, even in this world, are marvelous in their eyes. Such as when God preserved David from the sword of Saul, in caves and woods, as safe as if he had been in a strong city.
Blessed be the Lord. Special preservations call for particular thanksgivings. On the inside were fears; but God was better to him than his fears, Ps. 31:22. He keeps an account of his own foolishness, in distrusting God, which he acknowledges to his shame. Though he had had great experiences of God’s care in many troubles, yet he entertained this thought that God had forsaken him. Saul was at his back, ready to seize him, which made the temptation strong. In my haste this temptation caught him off guard. It is a common thing to speak amiss when we speak in haste and without consideration. But what we speak amiss in haste we must repent, particularly when we have spoken distrustfully of God.
He has pity and pardons us
Though his faith failed, God’s promise did not: You hear the voice of my supplication. He mentions his own unbelief as a contradiction to God’s fidelity, serving to make His loving-kindness the more marvellous. When we have distrusted God He might justly take us at our word, and bring our fears upon us, as He did on Israel, Num. 14:28; Isa. 66:4. But He has pitied and pardoned us, and our unbelief has not made His promise and grace of no effect; for He knows our frame.
David would have the people set their love on God (Ps. 31:23): O love the Lord! all you His saints. Those who have their own hearts full of love toward God desire only that others may be in love with Him also. It is in the character of the saints to love God, yet they must still be called upon to love Him more and better, and give proofs of their love. We must love Him, not only for His goodness, because He preserves the faithful, but for also for His justice.
He shall strengthen your heart
He rewards him who does well, but plentifully rewards him who does excellently well. David would have them set their hope in God (Ps. 31:24): “Be of good courage; whatever difficulties or dangers you may meet with, the God you trust in shall by that trust strengthen your heart.” Those who hope in God have reason to be of good courage. Let their hearts be strong, for, as nothing truly evil can befal them, so they shall be in want of nothing truly good.
This Psalm teaches us that we should animate ourselves and one another to progress and persevere in our Christian course, whatever threatens us, and whoever frowns upon us.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Taste and Trust Trust in Me, You know you should. All is well, say ‘God is good’, ‘God is good’. Knowing that I am good, So obey My commands. The present and the future, leave in My hands. I and My Father are One, One in desire, To do good you, be subjected to the Refiner’s fire. How anxious I am to share that goodness, All you are to do Is to trust and not be afraid Then you’ll receive all I have for you. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. May faith and prayer always be as one in my heart for I know that the prayer of faith prevails. Thank You for the hope I have that when I am in trouble You will deliver me. This expectation eases my burdened spirit, fetches in promised mercies and comforts my soul.
Order my steps and my spirit, that I may never do anything unlawful nor unwise. May I be resolved to follow Your direction in all I do. My confidence and my dependence is on You alone. In You, O Lord! do I put my trust, and not in any sufficiency of my own, or in any other creature. I have chosen You for my protector.
You are mine
I have pledged that You are mine. You are my strength and I pray that You put Your strength in me and put forth Your strength for me. In my bodily affliction may my concern always be more for my soul. Do not allow the perplexity of worldly affairs be an excuse for me to neglect my soul.
Whilst the outward man perishes day by day, yet the inward man suffers no harm. When I can keep possession of nothing else I can still keep possession of my soul. I solemnly commit my spirit into Your hands. For there it is sanctified by Your grace, devoted to Your honour, employed in Your service and fitted for Your kingdom. For You have not only created me, but have redeemed me.
May I know how to value my hope in You
May I know how to value my hope in You and so find joy in that hope to silence all my griefs. When I am in trouble may I be quick to humble myself and confess of any sin and so be submissive to Your will and be improved by the affliction. May the sense of sin always touch me to the core and affect me more than all my outward troubles.
May I acknowledge the experiences I have had of Your gracious presence with me in all my troubles and encourage myself to trust in You for the future. I declare that You are mine by faith and that is enough even when I have nothing else. My times are in Your hand, You are well able to help me. If You be my God, You will help me and so what can discourage me?
You know the best time
You know the best time for all my deliverances and may I be willing to patiently wait for that time. I stand in awe of Your greatness and I rely on Your grace. For I fear You and trust in You. I know that I shall be in want of no good thing. By faith I take hold of the promises, and draw them out that I be in the benefit and comfort of them.
I know that I am one of Your hidden ones. Your loving-kindness is wonderful. May I never speak in haste and so speak amiss. Yet what I speak amiss may I quickly repent of, particularly when we have spoken distrustfully of You. You have pitied and pardoned me, and my unbelief has not made Your promise and grace of no effect; for You know my frame.
My heart is full of love toward You
My heart is full of love toward You and I desire that others may be in love with You also. May I be compelled to compel others to You. I know that You will strengthen my heart. Let my heart be strong, for I know that nothing evil can truly befall me, so I shall be in want of nothing truly good.
May I animate myself and others to progress and persevere in the Christian walk whatever threatens us, and whoever frowns upon us. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
A compilation of every reference to the word Love in the Bible including Agape and Phileo love – click here