Psalm 31: Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit

This is another Psalm of David. This is another one where the note says that it’s to the choirmaster, which I feel sure is the reason why it is commonly believed that attribution of a psalm to David is simply that it uses a tune or something musical that he had created. It’s not obvious when I read it that it’s even talking about David, it could be about anyone, which also makes it hard to tell if he did write it or someone wrote it about him. It’s a little longish, but not too bad.

Psalm 31

1In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

3For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

6I hatea those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.
7I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

9Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.

11Because 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.
12I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17O 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.
18Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.

19Oh, 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!
20In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.

21Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22I had said in my alarm,b
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.

23Love the LORD, all you his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!

All together, I can appreciate the sentiment of this psalm. I’m not a fan of the roller coaster effect it leaves me with or the use of hate in verse 6. It gives me a creepy crawly feeling every time I think of a devout person actively hating someone, no matter what the person did. I don’t feel like hate is the sort of thing we should be celebrating. Still, the psalm is a few thousand years old and so I want to stay away from judging the person too. I didn’t live in their world. I just don’t particularly enjoy seeing it either.

That feeling pops up again in verse 17 when the writer wants the wicked to be put to shame instead of him. I’d rather they be redeemed or brought to the light or something. I know that there are people out there who are simply misguided and that there are others who are truly wicked, you might even say evil, but I just don’t like it within the context of a psalm in the Bible. Some other translations used “humiliate” instead and one used “disappoint”. I rather like “disappoint” better, but it’s remains that my distaste is more in the writer wishing ill on those he doesn’t understand.

The rest is filled with deliverance and an assurance that God is and therefore always will be there for the righteous, which the writer counts himself as. I do feel a little like verse 23 is the kind of verse that gets thrown around and makes people feel like all bad things that happen are inherently the fault of the person they happen to and all good things that happen are because God has recognized the person as righteous. People who spread that word around (which I’ve heard a lot from devout church goers of most denominations over the years depending on how into church they are) complete forget all those people like David and Joseph who are plagued by troubles for many years while doing God’s work before getting to live happily ever after.

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