Read: Psalm 31: 4, 13; 1 Samuel 21 – 23; 1 Corinthians 10:13
Psalm 31 is one of the many psalms of David which are prayers of supplication for deliverance and expressions of praise for God’s salvation. In Psalm 31 one of the threats David described is that of being surrounded by his enemies. He described himself as being caught in a net and experiencing “terror on every side.” When we are feeling hemmed in it is good to remember that David frequently found himself in that position and was always delivered. It may also be encouraging to recall the words of Marine Corps General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller to his Marines when they found themselves surrounded by Chinese troops at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1950: “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now!”
Think About It: What circumstances recorded in 1 Samuel 21 – 23 fit David’s description of his plight in Psalm 31:4, 13? Have I ever felt hemmed in? How have I responded?
Prayer: Lord, when I feel hemmed in, strengthen my belief that You will provide me with the way of escape.
Read: Psalm 31:11 – 12; Psalm 38:11; Isaiah 53:3 – 4; Mark 14:50
In Psalm 31:11 – 12 David described a threat even more disturbing than that presented by his enemies: he became a reproach to his neighbors and an object of dread to his acquaintances. As a result they avoided him and neglected him. David’s abandonment by his friends foreshadowed the forsakenness of his descendant, the Messiah Jesus.
Think About It: We all need the support of our friends and neighbors in times of trouble; we don’t always get it. What are some possible reasons friends fail one another in times of great trouble? What does it take to be the kind of friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)? Am I willing to be that kind of friend?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for friends who stick with me no matter what; help me to be that kind of friend to others.
Read: Psalm 31:10; Psalm 6:1, 2; Psalm 38:3; Jeremiah 10:24; Hebrews 12:3 – 13
In Psalm 31 David described his distress as being caused by the persecution of his enemies and the fickleness of his friends. But that was not all; he also recognized that his strength had failed him because of his iniquity (Psalm 31:10). The Hebrew word translated as “iniquity” is avon, and can refer to iniquity, guilt, or punishment for iniquity. Possibly David’s feelings of guilt arose because when he first fled from Saul, he went to Gath, which was home to God’s enemies (it was Goliath’s hometown). Switching sides, or even appearing to do so, was in retrospect neither a godly nor a wise decision.
Think About It: Hebrews 12:3 – 13 is the classic New Testament exposition on God’s discipline of His children. What motivates God to discipline His children? How can I recognize God’s discipline when I experience it? How should I respond to God’s discipline?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for treating me like a true child of Yours, even when that means discipline.
Read: Psalm 31:1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 14, 15, 17, 21
Although David describes his circumstances with the phrase “terror on every side” (Psalm 31:13), he does not allow a terrifying situation to paralyze him. He both thinks and acts in ways that bring positive results: v. 1 – he takes refuge in the Lord, recognizing that God is his Rock and Fortress (v.3) and Refuge (v.4); vv.2, 9, 15, 16, 17— he prays to the Lord (the entire psalm is his prayer), but specifically prays for speedy deliverance; v. 5 – he commits His spirit into the Lord’s hand (which means into God’s power and His care); vv. 6, 14— he clarifies who his enemies are (idolaters) and confirms his trust in God; v. 7— he rejoices in God’s steadfast love and awareness of his plight; v. 15 – he affirms his belief in God’s sovereignty (“my times are in Your hand”); v. 21 – he blesses the Lord (giving God the credit for demonstrating His steadfast love at the very time he was surrounded by enemies).
Think About It: Compare David’s thoughts and responses in Psalm 31 with Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4:6 – 7. What are some of the ways that David’s responses are an example of Paul’s teaching? What difficulties do I face in following David’s example and Paul’s teaching when dealing with anxieties and “terrors on every side”?
Prayer: Lord, please help me to remember to be anxious about nothing, and to pray about everything with thanksgiving!
Read: Psalm 31:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 16, 19, 21
David’s psalms often reflect the comfort he received from his knowledge of who God is. In Psalm 31 David reflected on these aspects of who God is: vv. 1- 4 – God is a Refuge, Rock, and Fortress; v. 5 – God is faithful; v. 7, 16, 21 – God is steadfast love; v.7 – God is omniscient, and therefore aware of our circumstances (Matthew 10:29 – 31); v. 15 – God is Sovereign; v. 19 – God is good.
Think About It: How, specifically, am I comforted as I consider each of these aspects of God’s character? How can knowing who God is help me to face “terror on every side”?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for who You are.
Read: Psalm 31: 3, 4, 5, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
In Psalm 31 David recognized many ways in which God acted in accordance with His character. These actions of God encouraged David in his time of great distress: v.3 – God led and guided him for His name’s sake; v. 4 – God delivered him from the hidden net; v. 5 – God redeemed him; v. 8 – God did not give him up to his enemy, but instead placed him on firm footing; v. 19 – God stored up and worked out abundant goodness for him; v. 20 – God hid and sheltered him from plots and slander; v. 21 – God wondrously demonstrated his steadfast love to him when he needed it the most; v. 22 – God heard his pleas for mercy and cries for help; v. 23 – God preserves the faithful but repays the prideful.
Think About It: Every believing Christian has experienced at least one very important way in which God wondrously demonstrated His steadfast love to them when they needed it the most: Romans 5:8. What are some other ways that I have experienced God’s actions in accordance with His character?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for all You do for me.
Read: Psalm 31:5, 10 -13; Luke 23:46; Isaiah 53:3 – 5
There is prophetic significance in Psalm 31, because Jesus quoted this Psalm from the cross (Psalm 31:5) and three other verses in this psalm point to Jesus: He died surrounded by His enemies (Psalm 31:13); He died abandoned by His friends (Psalm 31:11); and He died suffering the punishment for iniquity (Psalm 31:10) – not His own iniquity, but ours.
Think About It: Read all of Psalm 31 in light of its prophetic nature. How did God answer, on behalf of Jesus, the prayer requests of this psalm?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the resurrection and glorification of Jesus!