For the director of music. A psalm of David.
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols;(Ps. 31:1-8 NIV)
as for me, I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
The Psalmist states his trust in the LORD. Because he trusts the Lord he knows that he can find refuge in the Lord and asks that he will never be put to shame seeking deliverance in God’s righteousness. We might so easily pray a similar prayer. We know that we are weak and so prone to sin. We don’t want to be put to shame or bring shame upon the Lord or the Lord’s people by our failure. We need the Lord to turn His ear towards us quickly as we need immediate help. We need deliverance from all evil and a place to shelter. Our God is a rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save us. The metaphors that the Psalmist uses describes God’s protection. The effect of God’s protection is he finds ‘my rock of refuge’ and a strong fortress. The Lord will come to the aid of His people based on righteousness. The deliverance of God’s people is for the honour of His name.
The enemy await to entrap the Psalmist. When you have a public testimony and take a stand in your community, people will only be too happy to see you fail. They’ll quickly point out that your behaviour is not that of a Christian. The Psalmist is sensitive to the battle that he is engaged in and knows his need to seek God as a refuge. Faced with his great need, he does not lose heart, he surrenders control by saying, ‘Into Your hands I commit my spirit’. It is hard for us to surrender control to the Lord. Quite often we want to ask God to help us, but we want to remain in control. In these circumstances we only want an assistant not a master. However, we must learn from this Psalm that it is the only option to seek the master and yield everything into His hands.
We find words on the Psalmist’s lips that jar with our modern sensibilities: ‘I hate those who cling to worthless idols’. We want to tone this down, but we should not. The Psalmist is engaged in warfare, the enemy is trusting in worthless idols. The Psalmist wants to dissociate himself from those people and their practices. He states his fidelity to the Lord. The Psalmist clings to the Lord and the Lord lays hold of him. He is glad and rejoices in God’s love (hesed). The Lord expects our fidelity, that we should have no other source of confidence. The Lord hears our affliction and knows and cares about the anguish of our soul.
The giving of the Psalmist of his life into the Lord’s hands means that it would be the Lord’s prerogative to hand him over to his enemies. When the Psalmist surrendered and when we surrender we have to yield to whatever the Lord decides. Sometimes the outcome is not what we expected or what we want. On this occasion the Lord has placed the Psalmist’s feet in a spacious place. The experience of deliverance has granted the Psalmist freedom in God’s salvation.
Lord we confess that we like to hold back parts of our lives for ourselves. We don’t want to totally go it alone, but we stand back from total surrender because we don’t know what that might cost us. Lord help us to learn that the secure place is to place ourselves firmly under Your wing. You have surrounded us with Your covenant love. Help us not to yield to temptation but to walk in Your strength so that we will not know the shame of failure. Lord come quickly to our aid and deliver us for Christ our Saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.