As we read this psalm, one can see how David‘s focus and attitude towards his problems are changed during prayer. When we look carefully, we can see how prayer changes a troubled heart.
David did not hesitate to express his deepest concerns to God in prayer, but he was also generous in praising the Lord and elevating His perfect character. As he starts this prayer in Psalm 31, he is initially overwhelmed by his fears, anguish and concerns. But as is so often the case when we pray, our gaze is soon turned to God’s goodness in spite of our troubles.
This faithful servant of the Lord doesn’t deny that regardless of all his problems, when God blesses His people, He does so openly. In fact, God will often make a point of blessing them right in the face of their enemies. As Jesus said, God sees what is done in secret, but He doesn’t bless in secret. Our prayers of distress are often prayed in secret, but the rewards are no secret. Many times, even those closest to us are not aware of our anguish. But God knows and He hears us –even when we can barely whisper a prayer.
David adds that God protects those who take refuge in Him. Instead of concocting their own plans to get out of trouble, they look to their God and He protects them from the cunning schemes of people and keeps them safe from accusing tongues. As the Lord also confirmed through Isaiah: “Every tongue that accuses you will be refuted.” So, there is rest for those who trust in the Lord. He will work things out when people falsely spread rumors about His children and set traps for them.
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
David repeatedly reminds himself of the wonderful love of God. He was cornered on every side. The enemy came at him from every angle and he became fearful because it seemed everything was just going wrong. The overwhelming distress caused him to think that he is cut off from God. But he soon found out that it was not the case, because God heard his cry for mercy when he called to Him for help. So often, when we are overwhelmed by our problems, we can lose sight of God and His goodness.
Like David we need to constantly remind ourselves, especially in those times when we don’t “feel” His love. Our emotions are fickle and we can never elevate what they tell us to the level of truth. The only truth is God’s word and according to His word, His faithful love for us will never be shaken. He doesn’t love us more because of our good deeds and He also doesn’t love us less when we do wrong. His love for us is based on the true and just character of the One in whom we placed our faith –our Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
David, in awe of God’s goodness, wants to share his thoughts with the Lord’s children. It is so difficult to keep quiet about something good that we experienced in this life. And just like David, we may also feel the need to tell others and encourage them as the Lord has encouraged us. David encourages the Lord’s children to love the Lord since the Lord preserves the one who are true to Him. He loves the contrite in heart, but the proud He pays back in full. The humble He does not treat as their sins deserve, but He opposes the proud.
He encourages his brothers and sisters to remain strong and not lose courage in the face of adversity, but to continue to hope in the Lord. The Lord helped him when he cried out, but the Lord is not only the Helper of David and he wants the Lord’s children to understand that just as the Lord has helped him, He will help anyone who placed all their faith and trust in Him.
Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.