Our Common Prayerbook 31 – 2

Again, for those who have no idea what is going on in a post like this, we are doing a series — and it will take a good long while (months and months) — on our common prayerbook, the Book of Psalms. We are reflecting daily, about midday Central Time, on a few lines from a psalm and we do this Monday through Thursday each week. We are in Psalm 31, and you can read the psalm after the jump.

As we said yesterday, Psalm 31 is repetitive, and it appears vv. 1-8 and vv. 9-24 are basically the same prayer. But we need to remember that when we are in distress we do repeat our requests to God; we may go over them repeatedly as a way of connecting to God and as a way of making our requests known to God. Repetition does not mean badgering God; it means constant dependence upon God. One is not heard by God because one stays in God’s presence longer; but quick entrances and exits may indicate that we are not taking seriously our need to be in God’s presence.

David is worn down (vv. 9-13), and you can see how many different ways he describes his situation by reading those verses. But he commits himself to God (vv. 14-16) and asks God to deliver him. He details that request more specifically in vv. 17ff and then connects all of this to God’s glory and what others know about Israel’s God.

Vv. 21-24 contain some potent words: God answers his prayer but this leads David to reflect on his own weakness: “I jumped to conclusions and said ‘I am cut off’ from your presence” (v. 22). He thought this; he believed this; he may have known it certainly … but he was dead wrong. God’s promise is to be with us, and that is the essence of God’s covenant relationship with us: “I will be with you.”

Psalms 31

Psalm 31

For the music director; a psalm of David.

31:1 In you, O Lord, I have taken shelter!

Never let me be humiliated!

Vindicate me by rescuing me!

31:2 Listen to me!

Quickly deliver me!

Be my protector and refuge,

a stronghold where I can be safe!

31:3 For you are my high ridge and my stronghold;

for the sake of your own reputation you lead me and guide me.

31:4 You will free me from the net they hid for me,

for you are my place of refuge.

31:5 Into your hand I entrust my life;

you will rescue me, O Lord, the faithful God.

31:6 I hate those who serve worthless idols,

but I trust in the Lord.

31:7 I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness,

because you notice my pain

and you are aware of how distressed I am.

31:8 You do not deliver me over to the power of the enemy;

you enable me to stand in a wide open place.

31:9 Have mercy on me, for I am in distress!

My eyes grow dim from suffering.

I have lost my strength.

31:10 For my life nears its end in pain;

my years draw to a close as I groan.

My strength fails me because of my sin,

and my bones become brittle.

31:11 Because of all my enemies, people disdain me;

my neighbors are appalled by my suffering –

those who know me are horrified by my condition;

those who see me in the street run away from me.

31:12 I am forgotten, like a dead man no one thinks about;

I am regarded as worthless, like a broken jar.

31:13 For I hear what so many are saying,

the terrifying news that comes from every direction.

When they plot together against me,

they figure out how they can take my life.

31:14 But I trust in you, O Lord!

I declare, “You are my God!”

31:15 You determine my destiny!

Rescue me from the power of my enemies and those who chase me.

31:16 Smile on your servant!

Deliver me because of your faithfulness!

31:17 O Lord, do not let me be humiliated,

for I call out to you!

May evil men be humiliated!

May they go wailing to the grave!

31:18 May lying lips be silenced –

lips that speak defiantly against the innocent

with arrogance and contempt!

31:19 How great is your favor,

which you store up for your loyal followers!

In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.

31:20 You hide them with you, where they are safe from the attacks of men;

you conceal them in a shelter, where they are safe from slanderous attacks.

31:21 The Lord deserves praise

for he demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to me when I was besieged by enemies.

31:22 I jumped to conclusions and said,

“I am cut off from your presence!”

But you heard my plea for mercy when I cried out to you for help.

31:23 Love the Lord, all you faithful followers of his!

The Lord protects those who have integrity,

but he pays back in full the one who acts arrogantly.

31:24 Be strong and confident,

all you who wait on the Lord!

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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