Ep.079: Psalm 31: Into Your Hands.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 31 brings us to familiar territory. Once again the poet is in crisis, once again he pleads with God to deliver him. Once again he moves through crisis to a place of confidence in God.

Billy Graham read through the psalms monthly. That’s about five psalms a day, with some adjustments around the long Psalm 119. On such a monthly schedule, the reader passes quickly through most of the difficult psalms. My experience is different, because I spend a whole week in each psalm preparing for the “Pray with Me” channel and blog. If consecutive psalms have themes of desperation and pain, that’s a whole month in the pit for me. I begin to feel weighed down. I’m glad most psalms, including our psalm today, move toward praise and hope. 

Here are some famous phrases from Psalm 31. 

“Lord into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 5). Jesus quoted these words while dying on the cross. 

“You have set my feet in a spacious place” (v. 8). The poet feels hemmed in by his enemies, by traps laid for him, by accusations against him, by life’s emotional and physical pains. But God frees him from his prison and locates him to an open field under a blue sky. The poet’s difficult situation may be unchanged, but renewed trust in God brings hope and life and freedom. 

Another famous phrase from Psalm 31 is “My times are in your hands” (v.15). What a classic statement of trust, promising that God watches over the timeline of our life. 

Psalm 31 also says, “Keep them safe in your dwelling from the strife of tongues” (v. 20). I like this King James translation, “strife of tongues” better than the modern versions. The word “strife” describes the worst features of evil speech — bickering, dissension, quarreling, animosity, conflict. Perhaps James had this in mind when he wrote in his epistle, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil, it corrupts the whole body, sets the whole life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). 

Let’s pray. 

Lord, our times are in your hands. Facebook keeps a timeline of my life. So does Google. Medical information systems track the timeline of my health. Work keeps a timeline of my projects. The bank, a timeline of my finances. How refreshing to believe that my times are in your hands, O God. Big brother may be watching, but you count the minutes and keep the score.

Lord, keep us safe in your dwelling, far from the strife of tongues. We brace for another cycle of elections, with attack ads and acrimonious messages. Churches chew up their pastors and spit them out. Supervisors manipulate and mismanage. Dictators falsely accuse and threaten. Customers dump rudeness and arrogance on hapless service people. Keep us, O Lord, in your dwelling. Keep us safe from the strife of tongues. 

Lord, set our feet in a spacious place. We are imprisoned by poor health, difficult relationships, and stressful demands. Our blood pressure rises and our coping strategies fail. Bring us out of our prison, O Lord. Show us a place of freedom and beauty and choice.  

Lord, into your hands we commit our spirit. You see the inner person. You see your breath of life in bodies of clay. We commit our spirit to you. Keep us from evil, keep us safe in your dwelling, form us in the image of Christ.

Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.        

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