[Today:] Psalm Thirty-One: God Will Never Let You be Ashamed. In Psalm 31 we find David writing at a time he has been betrayed. He is surrounded by the army of king Saul and it seems there is no escape. We almost feel like eavesdroppers as David cries out to God and makes his case before the Lord. David’s response in times of difficulty was always to turn to God and trust in God to deliver him. He had learned that friends would fail him and loved ones stand aloof from his struggle – but God would always come through for him and set him free from the snare of the enemy.
[Psa 31:1-24 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] 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.
Psalm 31 is thought to have been written at a time in David’s life when he was betrayed by the Ziphites and wound up surrounded by Saul’s army. He demonstrates his response of trusting God even in the most difficult of circumstances. He isn’t casting about in his mind different options for arranging his escape. Instead he declares that his trust is in God and he knows things will work out. There will be times in your life when you are facing unavoidable situations and you will have to decide how you will respond. Will you put your trust in God? It can be very difficult to keep your mind clear and not in panic make bad decisions. David resists that temptation and reiterates his confidence in the Father.
In standing and trusting God David doesn’t resort to vain bravado. He realizes that things don’t always turn out the way he would like. He follows up with a plaintive cry “let me not be ashamed…” This isn’t perhaps so much unbelief on his part as it is lack of confidence in himself not to do something rash and wind up on the losing side of a difficult challenge. In every pressure filled situation we know that Satan is our enemy and seeks to destroy us – but Jesus has defeated Satan. Sometimes our biggest enemy is ourselves, making precipitous decisions that looking back after the fact we realize that we participated in our own failure or downfall.
David goes on to express the basis on which he asks the Father to deliver him. He says “deliver me in thy righteousness”. For New Testament believers we understand according to 1 Cor. 1:30 that Jesus is our righteousness. David is asking for deliverance not because he has done everything right. David made many mistakes and committed many outright sins in his lifetime. He is looking to the mercy of God and the grace of God that is not conditioned on his own merits. When we pray we don’t bother telling God what good people we are. We simply ask God to move in our lives for Jesus’ sake and not for any merit we might have for we possess none in the light of God’s divine justice.
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.
David’s prayer in verse 9 is very simple. He cries out to God and asks for help because he knows he is in trouble. Have you ever been in trouble? You don’t have to compose some elegant or sophisticated prayer. The most powerful prayer I personally know of is one that simply asks for the mercy of God to be shown in your situation. Verse 10 shows that David is feeling the pressure and it is affecting him even in physical ways. Have you ever been in a difficult situation and it pressed upon you so hard that even your health was compromised? How do you deal with this level of stress? Sometimes we take medications or try different strategies of stress management. David’s resort was always to prayer.
David also struggles with the reaction of those around him. There are people in David’s life who prove to be fair weather friends because now that he is in trouble they literally are running away from him. They are afraid of Saul and they don’t want to get involved so they withdraw and make themselves scares. I remember one of the most difficult times in my life that I reached out to someone that I was sure would be there for me. I was shocked that they stated in no uncertain terms that they would have not part of my life until I got through this particular trial. This stung like a blow because it was completely unexpected. There will be times in your life that you will reach out to those you just know will pray for you and stand by you but that won’t be the case.
David went through this many times in his life. He didn’t get bitter or vengeful about it. Instead he kept turning time and time again to God, knowing that if no one else stood by Him the Father would. Likewise don’t be surprised or get bitter when you find yourself alone in a time of trouble. People are just people. They are going to let you down. My father experienced a let down like this when he was at the tender age of 12 years old. He heard God’s voice speak loudly to him: “Keep your eyes off man and keep them on Me…” What sound advice for all of us when we are struggling with the indifference of friends and loved ones to our troubles.
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.
In verse 15 David declares to God that his times are in His hand. Sometimes people think that you will stand or fall by what they do to you. That isn’t the case. Man is not in control. There have been situations where people have threatened to disparage us or harm our ministry in some way by their criticisms. I always respond “do your worst. Do it now, don’t delay”. This is not because we delight in controversy. It is simply the fact that we have learned God will plow under the efforts of others to demean or destroy us or the work that we do. We trust in God to bring us through – not because we do everything right, either. You will make many mistakes when you are under pressure but keep coming back to a posture of trust in God. Ask God to make you a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Be determined to go low in humility and just trust in God, listening to His voice and doing only what He says in your situation.
David concludes the psalm with an exhortation to those who are reading and going through the same difficulties. Be of good courage. Know that God will strengthen your heart, or your spirit. Maintain hope in God alone. Many times we find ourselves in a time of trouble and putting our hopes in man. We hope that someone will help us or we hope that our enemies will back off. Neither is likely to happen. Once people make up their mind they are unlikely to change their direction. Put your hope in God. When you put your hope in God you will be strengthened and find rest, and ultimately see God’s deliverance in a radical way.
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