Sunday, 24 May 2020

Psalm 31: An exposition

Vs 1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!  

Here we see that the psalmist is a wise man because he has made God his home. He has made God his refuge, that is he has made God his safe place.  

 

What is your safe place dear reader? Is it in God or is it in yourself, or in others or in something which at last will be wearied out by time? We hear stories of women fleeing from domestic violence and they go to a place of refuge where they are free from fear and harm. Likewise, the believer’s refuge is God for there is no safer place to abide.  

 

Shall he not freely give us all things who did not spare his own Son? Indeed, he will and he does and he shall surely give you a safe refuge if you flee to him. He will never put you to shame!  

 

The psalmist also asks for deliverance as well as seeking refuge. God is not merely a safe house but a shield and a sword who delivers his children from the enemy. He does not only protect us against the attacks of our enemies but he also attacks our enemies as to subdue them. And all of this kindness is done not according to our goodness or righteousness but according to his eternal love towards us. I could never ask God to deliver me according to my righteousness because I fall exceedingly short.  

   

Vs 2 Incline your ear to me. That is the Psalmist is pleading for God to lend him his ears. The psalmist wants his concerns heard and not just heard but something to be done about them. So, he says, rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!  

 

The psalmist has already acknowledged that the Lord is a refuge and now he is pleading that this very thing that God is, that God should be for him in the present. We know that God is a healer, and that on the day of resurrection He will wipe away every tear, yet in the present we pray for Him to heal the sick and the broken-hearted right now. This is a good way to pray. Let us ask of God to do those things that he has already promised to do. Indeed, let us continually ask for His kingdom to come, and yet we know that He will ensure that His kingdom does come according to his own Sovereign purposes. Yet we pray for it with all diligence, urgency, and tears.  

 

Vs 3 For you are my rock and fortress. A fortress is a fortified place. it is a stronghold. It is a place that is designed to keep the enemy out and to keep the subjects safe. It should withstand against all attacks.  

 

God’s fortress is the safest in all existence. What attack can prevail against him? None at all. So, the wise person will make God his fortress. They will retreat to God only and hide away in Him for He is the only fortress able to protect from all attacks. He is impregnable.  

 

Is anxiety attacking you? Retreat in God for He is your fortress and your rock. Whatever is attacking you, the remedy to withstand is to retreat to God. Stand firm in his fortress and he will lead you and guide you for his name’s sake. Yes, the Psalmist did not plead for God to save him according to his own righteousness or goodness but for God’s own name’s sake.  

 

Indeed, God leads us in the path of righteousness for his namesake. Every good that God does to his children is for His name’s sake and this is how it ought to be, for this brings God glory and it was for his glory that we were created. Indeed, we are to the praise of his glorious grace. In all your prayers, it would not be an abnormal thing to say, Yes Lord do it for your name's sake. Do it to bring your name glory and fame. 

 

Vs 4 You take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. The child of God is not without enemies. In fact, the whole world is against him and in the world are hidden all sorts of trap to kidnap him and to make him fall. But our Father in heaven sees the evil, yea He sees the net as if it was never a hidden thing and he either delivers us from it before we fall, or he allows us to fall into it and then he delivers us from it.  

 

For David, he was taken out of the net many a time and delivered from falling into it. He had many enemies but none prevailed against him. Let us keep this prayer dear to our heart, namely a prayer to always ask God to deliver us from the hidden net of our enemies especially that of sin, for it was sin that nailed Christ to the cross.  

 

The Christian is constantly attacked daily and let us be wise to the darts of the evil one. God delivers us because we have made him our refuge. This is the confidence that we have, that whatever trap we may find ourselves in, Jesus will deliver us.  

 

Keep on praying troubled saints, never give in but know that your saviour comes to deliver you because vs 5 Into his hand we have committed our spirit; he has redeemed us, O LORD, faithful God.  

 

Are you as resolved as David? Have you committed your spirit into his hands? O pitiful soul, do this at once! Get on your knees and commit your soul to the safest hands in all existence. Is your soul not worth the greatest of prices? Gold or silver is not enough to purchase it. Keep it safe from the evil one by giving your heart to the Lord. At this hour if you have not yet committed your soul to Jesus, I beseech you to get on your knees and release your spirit into his loving hands. No one is able to snatch you out of his hands!  

 

And praying Christian, pray for others to imitate you in this act. Pray for your unconverted family that they may commit their spirit unto the Lord. Indeed, David committed his spirit unto the Lord to be delivered from physical peril, but our Lord having been crucified committed his soul unto God the Father and Creator. And in committing his spirt, he was redeemed through his resurrection. God is ever faithful to his saints, and he will redeem us all on the last day. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  

 

V6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. In those days, idols were manifested in physical form, that is carved images made by human hands of what they supposed their deity was like and looked like. After fashioning them, they bow to them and pay their regards to them and give them honour, an honour that should only be reserved for God alone.  

 

David here says that he hates them because people who put their trust in idols disregard God’s commandment when God said in Leviticus that, “You shall not make Idols for yourself or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it for I am the LORD your God.”  

 

David hates them because idols are nothing and they do not profit and those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. In our day, although we do not bow down to carved images, yet we bow down to many things like money and ourselves. We have forsaken the steadfast love of the Lord, that he is able to give us our daily need and instead we bow down to the idols of our hearts and elevate those things above him. It is pitiful and we ought to repent and trust only in the LORD. 

 

Because we entirely trust God and have forsaken all of our idols, we should rejoice and be glad in the steadfast love of God because he has said that I will never leave you nor forsake you.  

 

God saw David's afflictions and was with him the whole way through. God’s eyes were always on him and David knew this. He knew that his God could hear and see, unlike the worthless idols who were mute. God knew where David was at all times and knew the distress of his soul. Yet David rejoiced because he knew that God loved him and we ought to be the same.  

 

Poor Christian whose soul is full of anguish, God loves you and knows you. Do not despair or doubt his love, but rejoice in His steadfast love for you and you will soon rise out of your misery. Indeed, all your sins are forgiven. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad!  

 

Vs 8 God protected David from Saul. We read in 1 Samuel 23:7 ‘Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.”  

 

But we know that the Lord had not delivered David into the hands of Saul for when David inquired of the Lord about this, God could have kept silent but He revealed to David what Saul would do and also that the people of Keilah would give him up. So, David fled.  

 

When we are tempted, God always provides a way of escape. Indeed, there are times when God may give us over to the enemy, that is for them to be the instrument of death to usher us into his eternal presence. In whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, let us never be afraid of the Lord forsaken us for he has already set our foot on a broad place.  

 

We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into his marvellous kingdom of light. There is no going back!  

 

In verse 9 David returns to praying asking the Lord to be gracious to him, for He is in distress. We can only know spiritually what David must have felt physically from being pursued by unrelenting enemies.  

 

He had enemies from every side and his greatest threat was the very king of Israel.  

 

We Christians are constantly being pursued by the world, our flesh and the devil. The devil tempts and the world entices. The flesh is weak but the spirit is willing! The saint who knows the corruptness of his indwelling sin can never make peace with it and his eye is wasted from grief; his soul and body also and he spends his life with sorrow, Vs 10 and his years with sighing; his strength fails because of his iniquity and his bones waste away physically.  

 

But the Christian knows that the Lord is gracious. By believing in the gospel he knows that he has victory in Christ and can rely on God’s daily grace to sustain him. 

 

VS 11 - Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach - this is often the case of the Christian. When he begins to be the light of the world, he finds that his society and culture detest him because they love darkness. This is when the Christian should stand firm and unrelenting because although the world forsakes him, yet the Lord is by his side. As the Apostle Paul experienced the desertion of all in his old life, yet the Lord stood by him and gave him strength.  

 

The disapproval is even more painful when it is not only the society at large that reproaches us but our very friends, neighbours and family. Vs 11 They whom you have shared meals with now consider you a reproach.  

 

How hurtful and harrowing this is to the soul. They dread your acquaintance and will shy away from you and even mock you and threaten you. So, you find yourself isolated. They know that you are about one thing, namely that you are all about Jesus and him being crucified for our sins. But because of their own darkness and evil, this weights their conscience whenever you are around them, they flee from you when they see you. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for when the devils saw Jesus, they fled from him.  

 

Vs12 the world forgets the saints of Christ. They have long forgotten the labour of the Christian toil on the western ground to bring about much fruit of freedom and knowledge. The world speaks of them no more and many Christians have also forgotten.  

 

David felt this in his soul - ‘I have been forgotten like one who is dead: I have become like a broken vessel.’  

 

It is astonishing that the people of Israel should forget him who delivered them from Goliath, who alone stood for God when their own king was cowering in fear. What good is a broken vessel? In the hands of men, it is tossed away but in the hands of God, it can be renewed and restored. The Christian who feels broken can be assured that the Lord will restore him and renew him because he trusts in the Lord Jesus his saviour.  

 

Vs 13 Even though there may be many whispers against him as to plot his demise and the devil as surrounded him with terror on every side to take away his life and salvation, yet the Christian ought to remember well that the devil and his enemies are on a leash. They can do no harm to him which God has not designed or permitted.  

 

Vs 14 - But the Christian will always trust in the LORD like David did. That's one of the marks of a true Christian namely his constant trust in the LORD. And the Christian always trusts God because God is his God. Jesus Christ is his Lord and the Holy Spirit is his comforter. The Christian has no other source of strength or comfort. 

 

Vs 15 - The believer knows that his times are in God’s hands. Nothing can befall him except for what God permits to happen. Because our times are in the hands of God, we plead with him to rescue us from our enemies and from our persecutor. God is able to deliver us from every evil and he will deliver us and bring us safely home. Indeed, the instrument may be painful, but the end of is our deliverance into eternal life.  

 

Vs 16 - Here we see the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:25 for God’s face to shine on him and to save him in God’s steadfast love. How safe and happy is that man whom God has turned his face upon in mercy and tender love. This is always the state of the Christian in regards to God, namely one of constant mercy and sweet countenance.  

 

God’s face always shines on his soul because of the works of Jesus and even though we feel not this sweet countenance at all times, yet we can rest comfortably that He is always smiling towards us and has a sunshine beam upon us.  

 

Vs 17 - The Psalmist then pleads and requests of God, O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you. This is very understandable because God is very dependable and in him, we should first and foremost put our trust.  

 

No one else is deserving of such a position and because we put our trust in Him, we will not be put to shame. Jesus has overcome the world and because of his victory we are always the eternal victors and conquerors of every situation.  

 

In pleading with God about not being put to shame, the one who ought to be put to shame is the godless and the wicked who have not put their trust in Christ. Let the wicked be put to shame says the psalmist, let them go silently to Sheol.  

 

This is indeed the righteous man’s prayer if the wicked will not turn from their ways and repent. We pray for their repentance and if they will not repent or heed the gospel message then let them be put to shame and go without fuss to Sheol. O that the wicked will come to sense and accept his sentence with dignity. For if he will not repent then let him acknowledge his guilt and soberly accept his punishment in hell.  

 

May God mute their lips as it is requested of in Vs 18, Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.  

 

Vs 19 Whilst judgement is given to the wicked, reward is given to the righteous. O, how abundant is your goodness. Let us pause here to remind ourselves of the absolute truthfulness of this statement.  

 

Can you fully comprehend the abundance of his goodness towards his saints? Did not Paul prayed that we should have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. And elsewhere did not Paul also say that He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? How will he not? Only unbelief will disbelief the abundant of his goodness towards his saints.  

 

Are you his saint? If so then you are blessed and are lavished with an abundance of Goodness. You are loved immeasurably and prized very highly. But this abundance of goodness is not for everyone. The abundance of goodness is stored up for those who fear him and worked for those who take refuge in him, in the sight of the children of mankind! This is the sobering truth. This is God’s truth. He works for his own in a special way. His elect are distinguished from the rest of mankind. He has a special love for them, the love that knows no end to the lavishing of his goodness upon them.  

 

This goodness is also partly seen now and will be fully seen throughout all eternity. It is boundless! To be a partaker of his favoured love can only be obtained in this life, for it is for them who fear and take refuge in him in the sight of mankind. The thief on the cross took refuge in the Son and thus was lavished with everlasting goodness. He will forever be hidden in the cover of God’s presence. Until the new earth, he rests in paradise enjoying the sunshine of God’s face. 

 

Vs 20 In the cover of your presence, you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. Indeed, his saints may perish by the plots of evil men but the wicked will never succeed. As it is said in the 2nd Psalm that the Lord laughs and holds in derision the kings of the earth who have plotted evil against his Beloved.  

 

Eternal life is given to his saints. They have already died in Christ and their life is hidden in Christ. God hides them in the cover of his presence, He hides their life in Christ and Christ is always before him, yea always at his right hand and so are the saints.  

 

Vs 21 Because of all this abundance of goodness towards him, the psalmist being satisfied and content with all that God is for him says, blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.  

 

His back was against the wall, and Vs 22 I have said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight”. O, how often in haste, when we are in desperate situations, that all we can see is the night and duly forget that the morning is nigh and we begin to mourn that we are cut off from God’s sight, and that is to say that He has forgotten us.  

 

This feeling is not wrong in itself as long as it is accompanied with faith, namely that it drives us to prayer.  

 

We are up against it and our only hope is God and to him we duly turn. David does this and he was not put to shame. God heard the voice of his pleas for mercy when he cried to him for help.  

 

Do not forget how to plea for help. Do not forget how to weep before God. Do not forget how to be broken-hearted before God. I fear that many have! Many prayers are offered to God without emotions. Sorrowful prayers and thanksgiving prayers cannot be differentiated. But David cried! He wept because he had no other hope. 

 

The Christian has no other hope but God. So, weep for those who are out of Christ and give praise to God for those who are in Christ. Jesus wept for Jerusalem – yes, he wept over the rebellious city. He was also thankful that the truth which was hidden from the wise was revealed to little children. You see, Jesus wept and was also thankful! He wept in Gethsemane and gave thanks before the feeding of the 5000. 

 

David continues in regards to God’s abundant goodness and exhorts in Vs 23 Love the Lord, all you his saints! This is what we owe him. This is what he deserves. It is not only a commandment to be obeyed because it is a commandment, but it is a duty that should be our delight because of who He is.  

 

He preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. O, what justice! This is good and just. He blesses his saints abundantly and punishes the wicked abundantly in accordance with his justice. And in this loving, gracious and just character we Vs 24 should be strong, and let our heart take courage, all of us who wait for the LORD! 

 

Are you now waiting for the LORD? Be strong and take courage. Be courageous and go about your duties and have faith. Be strong in His strength. Be courageous in the faith he has granted you. Be bold and shun evil!  

 

Do you know of another saint who is waiting for the LORD? Encourage them and wait with them. Share their burdens and pray for them. Love one another as Christ as loved you.  


K.Oni

 

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