I rarely do this, but I felt led to republish this post from September of 2013. I trust someone needs this encouragement today.
In a previous post, we looked at Psalm 31:19 and explored God’s Goodness Stored Up For Us. Today we will examine several verses in Psalm 31 that surround verse 19.
What led to David’s inspired proclamation of God’s goodness? What came after David spoke such faith-filled words? Let’s see what God reveals to us through Scripture.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
I sense urgency in David’s pleas to God in the verses leading up to verse 5. David asks God:
- not to allow him to be put to shame
- for deliverance
- that God would turn his ear to listen to David’s requests
- that God would be his Rock and Fortress
And then, David commits his spirit into God’s hands (verse 5).
How many of us have done this same thing? We cry out to God as we plead with Him during our prayer time. We explain to God the desperation of our situation. We stress that He really MUST do something about it. We might even suggest several solutions to all of our problems.
And then, when we can’t think of anything else in our human capacity, when we’ve reached desperation of epic proportion, what do we do then? Hopefully, we do what David did and surrender to God. “God, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When we finally get to a point where we can relinquish control and place ourselves in God’s hands, we get to see the power of His redemption. We get to see the power of God’s Truth in action as He fights those epic battles for us.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
Here David is celebrating God’s love for him. David remembers all the previous times God saw his pain, his affliction. God not only saw that pain, God KNEW the anguish of David’s soul.
Like God knew the anguish in David’s soul, God knows the anguish in our soul. When we are hurt, God hurts for us. God is not unaware of our problems or our pain.
Scripture tells us in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” What made Jesus weep? He saw the pain and anguish of Mary and Martha as they cried out to God for help. He saw their sadness at the death of their brother Lazarus – someone Jesus loved immensely.
What Mary and Martha couldn’t see was God’s bigger plan in and through their pain. Not that Jesus was insensitive to it – not for a single minute. Scripture reveals to us that Jesus wept. Jesus didn’t want us thinking for a moment that He doesn’t care about our anguish. He cares. He is moved to tears by it.
There was much glory, power, and truth to be revealed when Jesus healed Lazarus after three days of lying dead in a tomb. Jesus hadn’t abandoned Mary, Martha, or Lazarus. Jesus’ plan involved redemption in the form of resurrection. Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead. He left an example for his disciples and all the world to see that He could and would resurrect from the dead. This pointed to the ultimate truth that God resurrected a Savior for us, when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead after three days.
Any pain we are allowed to go through always serves a bigger purpose. Again, Jesus is not unmoved by our pain.
You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
We have an enemy. His name is Satan. It took me awhile to learn it’s not the person in flesh and blood who has hurt me in some way that is really my enemy. That person who throws mean and hurtful words our way, for example, isn’t who we’re fighting against. The enemy would like to trick us into thinking people are our problem when really he is. (See Ephesians 6:10-12)
God is our victory and He sets our feet in a spacious place. God delivers us and sets our feet with a wide, sturdy stance so we won’t be moved by the enemy’s tactics. Ephesians 6 referenced above calls us to stand. Stand in a sturdy stance.
I love The Sound of Music. When I come upon Psalm 31:8, I think of myself as Julie Andrews on the top of a mountain with beautiful wild flowers all around me as I sing, “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music”. Atop a mountain feels like the most earthly spacious place I can think of.
One day all of the mountains will sing and rejoice as heaven, the most spacious place of all time, descends upon us. Isaiah 49:13 says it this way, “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” (Emphasis added.)
Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.
David laments to God. David is overwhelmed and feels weak from facing trial upon trial, trouble upon trouble. Even his body reveals the weight of his grief.
Have you ever felt like David does here?
I can remember a time when I wore so much grief that I walked around with dark circles under my sunken eyes. I didn’t realize how I looked in my grief until I saw pictures of myself from that Christmas. I was frightened by the image I saw. I looked frail and fragile. I looked hollow, a shell of whom I previously was. The saying “death warmed over”, certainly would apply to how I looked during that season of my life. Like Lazarus, Jesus resurrected me from “the dead” as well. He took my sorrow and anguish and comforted me with great compassion. Jesus nurtured me back to health, spoon feeding me soup for my soul – His Word & His Presence, His Love & His Compassion, His Grace & Mercy.
We can wear grief like a coat or we can give our grief to God and allow Him to comfort us as we read about earlier in Isaiah 49:13 where we are assured that “the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” Let’s allow God to extend his loving compassion to us during our times of affliction.
My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
Think about what it would take for bones to grow weak. That’s some serious exhaustion. War can make us feel weary.
I’ve been tired from some battles I’ve been in, but I think of a time when I was weary beyond my wildest imagination. Maybe you are like this to. As a mom, I was feeling anguish over a problem involving my son. I was desperate for a solution and I didn’t know what to do. The problem felt huge and foreign and I couldn’t see how the situation could end well. As moms we love our children – often more than we might love ourselves. When we see them hurting, well it just about breaks our heart.
It was a time like this when all I could do was groan. My prayers to God weren’t words at all, not in the traditional sense anyway. I felt so much anguish my prayers became groans and noises in a prayer language that God understood. He heard every word of my lament and God moved powerfully in that situation.
When we don’t know what to say, even our deep guttural laments are understood by our Heavenly Father.
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say “You are my God.”
Here’s where we start to sense a shift in this Psalm. David powerfully exerts, “I trust in you, O LORD.”
David know who his Father is. “You are my God.”
The shift in the heavenly realm might amaze us all as we boldly proclaim our trust in the LORD. Our faith and trust in the LORD are mighty weapons in our arsenal against the enemy.
Recently, the enemy tried to plant a seed of doubt in my mind about a situation. In the physical realm things looked one way as the enemy hissed his lies. For a split second non faith-filled scenarios ran through my mind. Then, I caught what was happening and began worshipping God, praying fervently, and thanking God for what He was doing.
I invoked my faith and God moved in that situation, faithfully answering my prayers.
Notice the pronoun “my” David uses when he says, “You are my God.” God is our God as well.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
This is such a beautiful image to reflect upon, God’s face shining upon us. Think about God’s warmth shining on you.
God saves us in His unfailing love. David knows this full well. Hopefully, we grasp that too. God’s love for his daughters and sons is unfailing and never ending.
And this is where our verse from last week enters in …
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
We get to the realization of how great God’s goodness is only when we fully grasp what verse 16 says. Our understanding of God’s unfailing love for us is foundational in our ability to understand God’s goodness. We need to experience His love first.
In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
David feels “cut off from (God’s) sight!” Notice the exclamation point.
Sometimes, the most frightening times are those when we don’t see what God is doing. We can feel like He doesn’t see us. We might wonder, “God, are you even there?”
Oh my dear sisters and brothers in Christ, God is there. God sees everything we are going through. God is working even when we don’t see what He is doing. I would argue God is working especially when we don’t see what He is doing.
God hears our cries for help just as he heard King David’s.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
David leaves us with these powerful last words in Psalm 31. Be strong. Take heart. I’m not a fighter, but I’m getting this image of a boxer. Be strong: one, two. Take heart: one, two. The “Be” is punch one. The “Strong” is punch two. The “Take” is punch one. The “Heart” is punch two. As silly as it might seem, visualize yourself punching, “Be strong.” “Take heart.” Again, “Be strong.” “Take Heart.”
We’re in a fight. But when our hope is in the LORD, we can BE STRONG AND TAKE HEART! That’s a one-two punch we can count on.
1. Have you ever thought of God as YOUR God?
If yes, write down two or three ways God has shown Himself to be your faithful, loving God.
If you haven’t yet thought of God as YOUR personal God, ask Him to reveal his unfailing love for you. Ask Him to help grow your awareness of how personal and trustworthy a God He is.
2. How can you grow your ability to trust God when you become weary with too many “battle wounds”?
3. What’s one practical thing you can do to “Be Strong” and “Take Heart”?