Meditation on Psalm 31

December 15, 2016


  My times are in thy hands . . .


These psalmists must have led dramatic lives.  In this psalm, yet again, the writer is in trouble.  He fears shame and prays for deliverance.   His enemies are hot on his trail and have also set a trap for him.  He looks back on his “life spent with grief.”  How can a modern man or woman, set down in a democracy, who has never been a soldier and never been “tracked down” by some violent and devious enemy,  relate to such a thing?

Directly!  For all of us, if we will admit it, if we are engaged in life at all – if we have loved, if we have ventured in career or commerce – we will have known grief and loss and defeat.  We will have known opposition and the fear of shame.  The fear that when the years return their verdict – and they always do – we will be found guilty or wanting.  Who among us does not know that feeling?

The psalmist finds rest not in his own works, but in God.  In the final analysis, he acknowledges: “My times are in thy hand.”   Even in his doubt and faithlessness, God hears his prayer:  “For I said in my haste, ‘I am cut off from before thine eyes:’ yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.”

To paraphrase Martin Luther, what a comfort it is to know that the means of our salvation and deliverance are not in ourselves.


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