Psalm 31

The Word Made Fresh

(To the worship leader. A psalm of David.)

1I look to you for safety, LORD.
Don’t let me be put to shame.
You are unsurpassed in wonder; rescue me!
2Listen for me and come quickly to my rescue.
Be my safe refuge, a strong fortress to protect me.
3You are my rock and my fortress.
Lead me and guide me for your name’s sake;
4save me from the traps that are hidden to catch me,
for you are my protector.
5I place my life in your hands.
Rescue me, LORD. You are my God in whom I trust.
6You despise those who bow before worthless idols,
but I trust only in you, LORD.
7I will celebrate, rejoicing in your never-failing love
because you have seen my trials
and have taken note of my enemies
8and have kept me out of their hands.
You have guided my feet to a safe place.
9Help me, LORD, for I am in trouble.
My eyes, my soul and my body are awash with grief.
10My life is consumed with sorrow
and deep sighing as the years go by.
My guilt has taken away my strength
and my bones grow weak.
11Those who oppose me hold me in contempt,
and even my neighbors recoil from me
and my friends hate to see me coming.
People who see me in the street turn away from me.
12I am forgotten. I may as well be dead.
I’m just a broken pot.
13I am aware of the whisper campaign going on against me.
I am terrified on every side.
They plot against me and plan ways to kill me.
14But I trust in you, LORD. I say aloud, “You are my God!”
15My life is in your hands.
Save me from my enemies and my persecutors.
16Smile on your servant and rescue me in your steadfast love.
17Don’t let me be shamed, LORD! I call on you!
Let these evildoers be shamed.
Let them go to the grave and be silenced.
18Let their lying lips be silenced,
for they constantly tell lies against those who are law-abiding.
They are filled with pride and contempt.
19Your goodness is boundless.
You have stored up blessings for those who respect you,
and done good things for those who turn to you
in full view of everyone.
20You hide them from the plots of their enemies
in the safe shelter of your presence.
You keep them safe under your protection
from lying tongues.
21Praise to God who has shown steadfast love to me so wonderfully
when I was being attacked like a city under siege.
22Alarmed, I was afraid I had been driven from your sight,
but you heard my pleas when I cried out to you for help.
23Love the LORD, all you good people!
The LORD rescues those who are faithful,
and punishes those who are haughty and self-righteous.
24Be strong! Let your heart take courage!
Wait for the LORD!


Superscription: the 28th of the psalms ascribed to David.

1-5: The psalm begins as a rather typical plea for divine assistance. The psalmist is threatened and turns to God for help. Verse 5 is familiar to Christians as words of Jesus from the cross. “I place my life in your hands” is an affirmation that, no matter what may befall us, God will take care of us. Jesus proved even death cannot defeat us when God’s will is done.

6-8: The psalmist continues building his case: he has been faithful, unlike those who worship idols. He remembers times when God has come to his aid.

9-13: Now he presents his current situation, and it is a dire one indeed. His position has been the source of considerable stress that has led to distress. His fortunes have failed, and he is no longer regarded by his friends and no longer given any respect by his enemies. He has become a bit paranoid and imagines that others are talking behind his back and making plans to do him harm.

14-18: Still, he has not surrendered to his fears. He trusts that God will deliver him and so he renews his prayer for God to take up his cause and confound his enemies and those who slander him.

19-20: He affirms that God takes up the cause of the faithful, and that God’s providence is ever sure.

21-22: Now it seems that the psalmist’s plight has faded, and better times have arrived. He credits God for his restored fortunes.

23-24: God’s dependable care evokes a loving response. The last verse echoes Psalm 27:14, a call for courage and patience.


Few of us are in positions of such authority that places us under constant attack from those who would claim that authority for themselves. But there are people out there who would want to disclaim any acclaim we receive. Jealousy is a deadly and pervasive sin for those who do not strive to seek God’s will. This psalm teaches us to always lay our fears before God, but also to constantly monitor our own motives lest we sink into jealousy and selfishness.