A Christian Perspective on Psalm 31

This seems to be a popular song among God’s children through the ages. Jonah seems to quote v6 (Jonah 2:8) with his prayer from the belly of the great fish. Jeremiah quoted v13 six times! (Jer. 6:25, 20:3,10, 46:5, 49:29 & Lam. 2:22) Our beloved apostle Paul referred to v24 (1st Cor. 16:13) Most significantly, v5 was quoted by Jesus Christ on the cross as His final words just before He died.(Luke 23:46) and don’t forget Stephen, the first martyr of the church, alluded to v5 (Acts 7:59). This usage of the Psalmist’s praise by the Holy Spirit, merits our time & study in His words.

Early in the 16th century, a German monk and seminary professor named Martin Luther taught through Psalms, at the University of Wittenberg. In his teaching he came upon this statement in Psa. 31:1-2.. The passage confused him; how could God’s righteousness deliver him? The righteousness of God – His great justice – could only condemn him to hell as a righteous punishment for his sins. One night up in a tower in the monastery, Luther thought about this passage and also read Romans 1:17. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. Luther said he thought about this day and night, until he finally understood what the righteousness of God revealed by the gospel is. It is not speaking of the holy righteousness of God that condemns the guilty sinner, but of the DIVINE righteousness that is given to the sinner as a gift, who puts his trust in Jesus Christ. Luther said of this experience: “I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise….” Martin Luther felt renewed in a new life and the reformation began in his heart. Historians have written that this was “the happiest day in Luther’s life.” 

v5, Into Your hand I commit my spirit: David asked to be delivered from his enemies and their traps, but not so he could live for himself. He utterly cast himself on God, committing the deepest part of himself to God. Jesus expressed His total surrender and submission to God on the cross when He quoted this line from Psalm 31 recorded in Luke 23:46. – and then Jesus gave His last breath on the cross. Jesus did not surrender his life despondently for destruction, but with a triumphant attitude towards His Father for resurrection. And also, this dedicated attitude of the soul towards God the Father is not reserved for David and the Son of David alone. Stephen, the first martyr of the church, had the idea of these words in mind with his final words, see Acts 7:59.

v24, good courage:  if you want to get out of apathy and timidity, you must TAKE good courage. This is mandatory, for the text puts it so:’ Do not sit still, and rub your eyes, and say, ‘I can’t help it, I must always be like this.’ You must not be so; in the name of God, you can pray believing God commands you ‘be of good courage.’ If you are not like that, you must not expect the Spirit of God to work on you as though you were a block of wood, and could be made into something against your will. Oh, no! You must prayerfully determine to be of good courage! Jesus did it while facing death, we can do it while facing Him in prayer. Do you believe He can change your heart to be courageous?