Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strength and Courage Under Stress

[To the chief Musician; A Psalm of David]

1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.

3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

11 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.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

13 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.

14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.

17 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.

18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

—Psalm 31 KJV Bible

This is a lament psalm of David, with a strong emphasis on trust. David addresses his prayer to God, then laments his physical distress and danger. He asks the Lord to deliver him and silence his enemies, praises the Lord for delivering His own, and encourages the godly to love the Lord and be strong. Ten times in the psalm David addresses or refers to the LORD—the Hebrew YHVH, sometimes pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah in English.

David is under considerable stress throughout this psalm. At first, David is in danger from his enemies. He cries to God for help, and then God saves him. Then David is in danger again, he again cries for help, and God saves him again. It has been suggested that in this psalm David is describing part of the time during which David was being pursued by King Saul and his army.

In verses 1 through 8, David addresses his prayer to God. In verse 5, David speaks of committing his "spirit," or life, which is the ultimate expression of faith. Jesus made the supreme commitment on the cross. In Luke's account of the crucifixion, Jesus is heard to quote the first half of Psalm 31:5 with His final breaths (Luke 23:46). Shortly before Stephen's death by stoning, Stephen cried out a variation of this phrase to the ascended Jesus Christ (Acts 7:59).

In verses 9 through 13, David laments his physical distress and danger. In verse 12, David compares himself to a "broken vessel"--clay pottery that has been smashed and is no longer useful for its intended purpose. This imagery is used many times in the Old Testament. Examples include Psalm 22:15, Isaiah 30:14, Jeremiah 19:11, and Jeremiah 22:28.

In verses 14 through 18, David asks the Lord to deliver him and silence his enemies. David describes his enemies as being on every side, preparing to attack. Jeremiah uses this same imagery several times (Jeremiah 6:25; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29).

In verses 19 through 22, David praises the Lord for delivering His own. David notes that God keeps safe those that fear Him. They are described as being within the tabernacle of the Ark of the Covenant, in God's secret place--in the Holy of Holies--in the very presence of God.

In verses 23 through 24, David encourages the godly to love the Lord and be strong. David reminds the listeners that God preserves the faithful and deals with the unfaithful. They should be strong and courageous, knowing that God will come to deliver them.

O LORD, though I may not have an army in pursuit of me, it certainly feels that way when I am stressed. Remind me that You keep me in Your secret place; in Your very presence. Strengthen me and give me courage.


No comments:

Post a Comment