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Psalm 31 is a model for how to pray. I think the best way to approach this Psalm is to follow Martin Luther’s prayer plan.
(1) Pray the Psalm. – My next three articles will consider different divisions of this prayer. I encourage you to use your Bible and pray through the entire prayer each day and to use the articles to help with meditation.
(2) Meditate on the Psalm. – I hope the blog articles will allow you to see the richness of the prayer and draw you into deeper thought about its themes.
(3) Absorb the Psalm into your needs. – This Psalm is both an appeal to God for help and an expression of confidence in God. We can apply this prayer to the issues of life that concern us.
Be My Protector
Psalm 31 opens with a desperate cry for God’s help.
I come to you, Lord, for protection;
never let me be defeated.
You are a righteous God;
save me, I pray!
Hear me! Save me now!
Be my refuge to protect me;
my defense to save me. (Psalm 31.1-2)
Do you need protection, victory, or defense? These three needs are met by three strong appeals for God to “save” us from what is happening to us.
We can be confident that God is righteous and is a refuge for people who rely on him.
Our “righteous” God will always do what is right for his creation. He is a “refuge,” or a place of protection from threats.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus experienced a stream of people who came to him for healing, deliverance, and direction for life.
What do you need today? Turn to Jesus. Place your confidence in him and trust him to work on your behalf.
Knowledge and Confidence
We experience God through prayer, Bible reading, following his direction, and in the daily course of our lives. Our experiences build our faith.
You are my refuge and defense;
guide me and lead me as you have promised.
Keep me safe from the trap that has been set for me;
shelter me from danger.
I place myself in your care.
You will save me, Lord;
you are a faithful God. (Psalm 31.3-5)
Experience has taught the speaker of this Psalm that God is our refuge, defense, and shelter. Our faithful God can be completely trusted.
The Psalm provides a model of how to ask for God’s direction. We pray, “guide me and lead me as you have promised.”
“Lead me as a soldier and guide me as a traveler. Lead me as a child, and guide me as an adult. Lead me by the hand, and guide me by your word.” (Charles Spurgeon)
There is no “Plan B” in this Psalm. The speaker rests completely on God’s activity. He has no alternative source of direction and protection to seek instead of God.
As we pray for God’s help for whatever troubles us, let’s declare to God our complete dependence on him.
Jesus and Verse 5
When Jesus spoke his last words on the cross, he prayed verse 5, “‘Father! In your hands I place my spirit!’ He said this and died” (Luke 23.46).
When Stephen was dying as a result of being stoned by the religious authorities in Jerusalem, He prayed from verse 5 and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” (Acts 7.59).
Many of church history’s great men and women have prayed verse 5 at the hour of their death.
However, Verse 5 is not just for the dying. It is for the living, too.
It is a confession of our ultimate helplessness, dependence, and trust in God. When we pray it, we say in effect: “It’s up to you, God, what becomes of me, and I am willing to have it so.”
I Trust in You
The Psalm declares that God hates the worship of false gods. It is tempting to give our attention and energy to the “god” of money, self-will, addiction, politics, work, friends, or something else.
These verses should give us pause before we trust something that is false. The Psalm encourages us to place our complete trust in God.
You hate those who worship false gods,
but I trust in you.
I will be glad and rejoice
because of your constant love.
You see my suffering;
you know my trouble.
You have not let my enemies capture me;
you have given me freedom to go where I wish. (Psalm 31.6-8)
We are able to trust, be glad, and rejoice for three reasons.
(1) God’s love is constant. God hates false worship, because he knows the harm it does to the people of his love.
The word “hate” is in these verses. Yet, if God were to stop loving, he would cease being God. “For God is love” (1 John 4.8).
(2) God knows our suffering and trouble. God, who loves us, knows what we are going through. We can trust him to come to our aid.
(3) God will protect us from our enemies, as we turn to him for help.
May We Pray for You?
We are happy to pray for any request you may have. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church to pray for you.