April 2: Psalm 31
Trusting in God through anguish and grief
76.76 D Aurelia (The Church’s One Foundation), p. 120
Munich (O Word of God Incarnate), p. 129
In You, Lord, I take refuge; ashamed let me not be,
Your righteousness eternal express by saving me;
Incline Your ear to hear me; with speed deliver me.
To me O be a strong rock, a fort to rescue me.
You are my rock and fortress; for Your sake lead and guide.
Free me from nets they’ve hidden; my stronghold You abide.
I now commit my spirit into Your outstretched hand.
I know You have redeemed me, Lord God of truths that stand.
I hate those serving idols; my trust is in the Lord.
I’ll triumph in Your mercy; My anguish You regard.
You’ve known my soul’s afflictions, kept me from hostile hand.
My feet You have established where they have room to stand.
O Lord, have mercy on me, for anguish fills my life;
My eye, my soul, my body are all consumed with grief.
My life is drained by sorrow, my years with sighing, spent;
My strength sapped by affliction, my bones are weak and bent.
To all my foes a byword, a dread to those near me,
A scorn to all my neighbors, at sight of me they flee.
Like dead men I’m forgotten, a broken jar thrown out.
I’ve slanders heard of many, and fear is all about.
When foes conspire against me, my murder meditate,
In You, O Lord, I’m trusting; “You are my God,” I state.
My times are in Your hand, Lord; free me from foes who chase.
Your face shine on Your servant; O save me in Your grace.
Let me not be ashamed, Lord, because on You I call.
Ashamed shall be the wicked, as dead men silenced all.
All false lips shall be silenced, whose speech is insolent,
Who boldly blame the righteous and proudly show contempt.
How great the good You’ve treasured for them who worship You,
Prepared for those who trust You where sons of men may view.
You by Your presence hide them from all men plotting wrongs;
You keep them in Your shelter safe from the strife of tongues.
The Lord be ever bless-ed, for He has made me know
The mercy and protection His city walls bestow.
I said when filled with panic, “I’m cut off from Your eyes!”
Yet when to You I called out, You heard my pleading cries.
O Love the Lord, you godly! The Lord the faithful keeps.
But He repays the haughty—with what he sows he reaps.
Be strong! He’ll keep refreshing your heart with courage great;
O do with hope and patience upon Jehovah wait.
The correct sense of Psalm 31 is indicated in verse 5: “Into Your hand I commend my spirit.” This verse, according to Luke 23:46, was the final prayer of our Lord from the Cross, and I take it to indicate the proper “voice” of this whole psalm. It is the prayer of Jesus, speaking to His Father in the context of His sufferings and death. This psalm is part of His prayer of faith. In making this psalm our own, we Christians are subsumed into the voice and prayer of Christ. We partake of His own relationship to the Father. Our only access to God is through Christ and the mediation of His atoning blood. Our incorporation into Christ is the foundation of all our prayer. Only in Christ do we call God our Father. The only prayer that passes beyond the veil, to His very throne, is prayer saturated with the redeeming blood of Christ. In this psalm, then, the voice of Christ becomes our own voice. This committing of our souls to God in loving trust is not just one of the various things we do as Christians; it is the essential feature of our life in Christ (1 Peter 4:19). In this psalm we enter into the sentiments and thoughts of Jesus in His sufferings. We see the Passion “from the inside,” as it were. The reason that the voice of Christ in His Passion must become our own voice is that His Passion itself provides the pattern for our own lives. Throughout this psalm there is an ongoing changing of tenses, back and forth between past and future. We have been redeemed, but we still pray for our final deliverance. Even as we taste the coming enjoyment of God’s eternal presence, hope’s struggle in this world goes on. (Reardon, p. 59-60)