The Bible

 

Psalms 31

Study the Inner Meaning

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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.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 31      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 31's theme is that the Lord is a fortress for us in adversity. It's quite a long psalm, and it is filled with rich imagery in almost every verse and phrase -- the Lord’s ear, the rock of refuge, the fortress, the net, the hand of the enemy, setting feet in a wide place, and more.

The psalmist exposes his feelings of rejection by others, saying again and again that his adversaries are full of hatred towards him. He feels that he is being held in contempt by his enemies, especially by his neighbours. He says that he is a reproach among them; he is repulsive to them; he is forgotten like a dead man, and that he is a broken vessel. He feels that they are against him, because of what he has chosen to stand for and uphold in his life.

This, like every other psalm, is also dealing with the inner states of Jesus in his humanity, in his work of redemption for our spiritual freedom. The Lord knew the opposition and rejection of many people. He also knew and had to deal with the attacks from the hells which took him into severe temptation. And he knew the subtleties and weaknesses of his own inherited humanity and the temptation to give in to their promptings. (Arcana Caelestia 1557)

This is an important challenge in our spiritual life. Our spiritual stands can set us against being accepted by other people who may have been friendly towards us before, but who are now against us. Spiritual commitment can bring us into an loneliness where our love of the Lord is the only fortress of our life. (Divine Providence 61)

When we bring this Psalm, spiritually, inside ourselves, and see our states reflected in what it says, we see that there is a tension between our natural life – fed by merely human values and expectations – and our spiritual life which is fed by the Word and the commands of the Lord. Both are there, co-habiting in us. We need to recognise this and manage the situation. It is a comfort to us to know that the Lord completely understands how it is for us. This is why the Lord feels like our fortress. (Arcana Caelestia 6343)

We’ll now take a look at some of the phrases and images used in this psalm and their spiritual meanings for us and also their correspondences.

Verse 2 says “Be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defence to save me.” The height and hardness of rock give us the idea of the need for refuge, something higher than our confused thoughts, something firmer and steadier than our shifting emotions. This is the prayer to be made to the Lord. (Apocalypse Explained 411)

Verse 4 gives us the picture of a ‘net’: “Pull me out of the net they have secretly laid to trap me.” We know the phrase “a web of lies” in which we can become entangled to the point of not knowing truth from falsity, and a net, like a web, is all interconnected lines with no obvious beginning or end. False ideas create devious pathways to make them seem true.

Verse 8 says “You have set my feet in a wide place”. Our feet carry our body along. They are in touch with the ground. They stand for our life, with its actions, contact, use and dealings. The wideness means firmness, and breadth, which strengthens the balance of the body. To devote ourselves to the Lord sets our life on a sure base. (Apocalypse Revealed 510)

Finally, verse 10 tells us “And my bones waste away.” Our physical body is firmly built on a hard scaffolding on bones which allow us to act and move. Spiritually this stands for the truths we understand and have made our truth which support all our spiritual life and intentions. But here the speaker feels that this sureness is disappearing. It is the plea of one who is overwhelmed by the “smoke and mirrors” of opposing forces, and as the psalm constantly brings out, he can turn only to the Lord to uphold him, and he does. (Arcana Caelestia 9447)

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 281


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 300, 1096, 1422, 1613, 4391, 4482, 5585, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 281, 282, 289, 613, 861, 939

Doctrine of the Lord 38, 49

Heaven and Hell 197

True Christian Religion 83


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 328, 409, 412, 455, 622, 660, 666, ...

An Invitation to the New Church 35

Marriage 83

Scriptural Confirmations 19, 100

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 37:18, 40:23

Exodus 2:25

Deuteronomy 6:5, 26:7

1 Samuel 25:32

2 Samuel 22:20

2 Chronicles 14:10, 34:31

Esther 6:10

Job 5:21, 19:13, 14

Psalms 2:12, 3:8, 4:7, 6:8, 7:2, 10:14, 12:5, 17:7, 18:3, 20, 37, 23:3, 25:2, 3, 27:5, 7, 36:6, 8, 38:12, 57:11, 66:20, 71:2, 3, 80:4, 8, 89:52, 91:2, 102:3, 103:8, 11, 116:2, 119:124, 140:7

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Isaiah 25:1, 38:10

Jeremiah 20:10, 31:18

Ezekiel 37:11

Matthew 26:3, 4

Luke 20:26, 23:46

Acts of the Apostles 7:59

Bible Word Meanings

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

ashamed
To be ashamed (Gen 2:25) signifies to be in evil

righteousness
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

bow
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

bow down
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

rock
'A rock' signifies the Lord regarding the divine truth of the Word.

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

save
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

fortress
A fortress, or bulwark, is predicated of divine good.

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

lead
"Leading" people in the Bible is, in the inner meaning, about leading people in spiritual things, not natural ones. When it talks about the Lord...

net
To cast the net on the right side,' as in John 21:6, signifies teaching the good of life.

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

truth
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

hated
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

vanities
'Vanity' signifies evil and the falsity of evil. 'Vanities of strangers' signifies falsities of religion.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

glad
To make glad signifies influx and reception from joy of heart.

rejoice
To make glad signifies influx and reception from joy of heart.

mercy
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

trouble
Matthew 24:21 mentions an affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be". There, the affliction means the...

known
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

shut
There are only a couple of references in the Writings to "close" used as a verb, and both stem from Amos 9:11, which talks about...

enemy
An enemy in the Bible refers to people who are in the love of evil and the false thinking that springs from evil. On a...

feet
Our feet are the lowest and most utilitarian parts of our bodies, and in the Bible they represent the lowest and most utilitarian part of...

eye
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

grief
Grief is anxiety of heart or will.

belly
The belly (Psalms 16:4) signifies the interior understanding.

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

spent
'Spent,' as in Genesis 21:15, signifies being desolated.

iniquity
In Isaiah 59:6, 'webs' and 'garments' signify aspects of the understanding, or thought, 'Iniquity' and 'violence,' aspects of the will, or works.

bones
Bones are strong and supportive, providing a framework for our bodies and making motion and action possible. They are also the least "alive" part of...

see
To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

forgotten
To forget, in the internal sense, signifies nothing else but removal and apparent privation.

dead
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

heard
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

many
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

times
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

enemies
An enemy in the Bible refers to people who are in the love of evil and the false thinking that springs from evil. On a...

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

shine
“Light” in the Bible represents divine truth, ideas which pour out to us from the Lord’s infinite love. It makes sense, then, that when something...

servant
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

mercies
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

called
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

Wicked
Swedenborg several times associates the “wicked” with “malevolence,” defines “malevolence” as “destroying good, interior and exterior,” and says that the wicked do this by disowning...

lips
'A lip' signifies doctrine. A lip,' as in Isaiah 6:3, 7, signifies the interior parts of a person, consequently, internal worship, where adoration is grounded....

speak
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

righteous
He is said to be 'just' in a spiritual sense, who lives according to divine laws. They on the right hand being called 'just,' as...

hide
'To hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:15, signifies being in evils and in falsities...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

tongues
'The tongue,' as an organ, signifies doctrine, but as speech, or language, it signifies religion. 'Tongue' signifies perception of truth with respect to speech, and...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

kindness
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

city
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

voice
'Voice' signifies what is announced from the Word. 'Voice' often refers and is applied to things that cannot have a voice, as in Exodus 4,...

love
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

saints
'Saints' mean people governed by truths from the Lord through the Word.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Prayers for Teens: Trusting in God
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 31      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 31's theme is that the Lord is a fortress for us in adversity. It's quite a long psalm, and it is filled with rich imagery in almost every verse and phrase -- the Lord’s ear, the rock of refuge, the fortress, the net, the hand of the enemy, setting feet in a wide place, and more.

The psalmist exposes his feelings of rejection by others, saying again and again that his adversaries are full of hatred towards him. He feels that he is being held in contempt by his enemies, especially by his neighbours. He says that he is a reproach among them; he is repulsive to them; he is forgotten like a dead man, and that he is a broken vessel. He feels that they are against him, because of what he has chosen to stand for and uphold in his life.

This, like every other psalm, is also dealing with the inner states of Jesus in his humanity, in his work of redemption for our spiritual freedom. The Lord knew the opposition and rejection of many people. He also knew and had to deal with the attacks from the hells which took him into severe temptation. And he knew the subtleties and weaknesses of his own inherited humanity and the temptation to give in to their promptings. (Arcana Caelestia 1557)

This is an important challenge in our spiritual life. Our spiritual stands can set us against being accepted by other people who may have been friendly towards us before, but who are now against us. Spiritual commitment can bring us into an loneliness where our love of the Lord is the only fortress of our life. (Divine Providence 61)

When we bring this Psalm, spiritually, inside ourselves, and see our states reflected in what it says, we see that there is a tension between our natural life – fed by merely human values and expectations – and our spiritual life which is fed by the Word and the commands of the Lord. Both are there, co-habiting in us. We need to recognise this and manage the situation. It is a comfort to us to know that the Lord completely understands how it is for us. This is why the Lord feels like our fortress. (Arcana Caelestia 6343)

We’ll now take a look at some of the phrases and images used in this psalm and their spiritual meanings for us and also their correspondences.

Verse 2 says “Be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defence to save me.” The height and hardness of rock give us the idea of the need for refuge, something higher than our confused thoughts, something firmer and steadier than our shifting emotions. This is the prayer to be made to the Lord. (Apocalypse Explained 411)

Verse 4 gives us the picture of a ‘net’: “Pull me out of the net they have secretly laid to trap me.” We know the phrase “a web of lies” in which we can become entangled to the point of not knowing truth from falsity, and a net, like a web, is all interconnected lines with no obvious beginning or end. False ideas create devious pathways to make them seem true.

Verse 8 says “You have set my feet in a wide place”. Our feet carry our body along. They are in touch with the ground. They stand for our life, with its actions, contact, use and dealings. The wideness means firmness, and breadth, which strengthens the balance of the body. To devote ourselves to the Lord sets our life on a sure base. (Apocalypse Revealed 510)

Finally, verse 10 tells us “And my bones waste away.” Our physical body is firmly built on a hard scaffolding on bones which allow us to act and move. Spiritually this stands for the truths we understand and have made our truth which support all our spiritual life and intentions. But here the speaker feels that this sureness is disappearing. It is the plea of one who is overwhelmed by the “smoke and mirrors” of opposing forces, and as the psalm constantly brings out, he can turn only to the Lord to uphold him, and he does. (Arcana Caelestia 9447)


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