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!
Like so many of the psalms, psalm 31 is a great model for us to follow in prayer. Leonard Ravenhill said, “I see more and more the weapon God has given us in prayer. Jesus’ disciples never said ‘Lord teach us to do miracles; teach us to heal; teach us to preach. But they did say, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’” What a gift the Lord has given us in the psalms- it is as if He said “here is a man after my own heart, now listen to him pray.”
David begins his prayer in the first 2 verses by crying out many familiar themes in the psalms. But the first statement he utters is- “In you, O lord, do I take refuge.” He starts his prayer by going under the cover of the Father, into the safety of the sanctuary. The KJV interprets this “In thee, O lord, do I put my trust.” What a place to establish and build a prayer upon. Then in vs 3 he declares “and for your names sake you lead me and guide me.” So David has opened up his prayer in the safety of the covering of the Lord and then immediately (or even necessarily) falls in with the will of the Father. It is in this will, that the Lord will act- He will display, defend, and establish His holy name. Daniel, in one of the most amazing prayers found in scripture, seeks the will of the Father after reading his Bible and having a revelation.
“Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.”(Dan 9:17).
What an amazing thing, that the Fathers will should involve His creation.
David has put his complete trust in Gods refuge and Gods will. It is here he resides, and it is here David ensures such confidence. This is nothing less than faith- and successful prayer is always accompanied by faith. It is here where David initiates his prayer- in complete surrender to God.
From here he does not immediately jump into petition- he instead takes a few verses to remember and acknowledge what God has already done for him. “You take me out of the net…. you have redeemed me…. You have seen my affliction.” This is important for us- remembrance brings thankfulness, remembrance brings courage, confidence and faith. You need not spend hardly any time at all in the Old Testament to see how important it was to the Israelites to remember all that God had done for them.
Now we enter into petition (vs 8-13) from a state of trust and protection, abiding in the Fathers will, while remembering all God has previously done. David’s pleas are very general- to which we can much relate. He starts by crying out in grief over his own sin. Our lives can feels unbearably heavy due to our iniquities. I groan and sigh in embarrassment of not only what I have done and said in my past, but also of what I know I will do and say in the future. The sheer exhaustion and shame of sin can be such a wearisome burden on a Christian. But the burden of our own iniquity is not the only burden David brings to God, he also cries out against the burdens of the world and its people against him.
Through David’s penitent pleas, he still resides in the Father's refuge, will and memory of mercies shown. And because of this, David can move from his heavy entreaties to the most amazing verse of the chapter. Vs 14 and into vs 15 “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.” What a verse! What a heart! I don’t even know what to say here. We can utter these words with nothing but liturgical minds, but this is a heart only God can give- a heart dependent wholly on Him. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ez 36:26, 27). What a promise, what a new covenant. From it we can cry “You are my God.” Vs 14 is everything, it is David’s heart, it is to be our heart. From this stems our whole Christian life, and it is from this heart that David can continue in this psalm with expectancy of Gods answer. That is why David can cry out in agony and distress, and then like flipping a switch, can cry out in expected instantaneously answered prayer of praise that God has already answered. It is the heart of those that live their life through the “lenses of eternity.”
Now as the first few verses ready the heart of David for communion with the Father, the last few exhort us to ready our heart to do the same. To pray with the same confidence and urgency he did. “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!”
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” –Mother Teresa