The Bible

 

Psalms 31

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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.

  

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 31

   

By New Christian Bible Study Staff and 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)