Confidence in God. (1-8) Prayer in trouble. (9-18) Praise for God's goodness. (19-24)
Verses 1-8 Faith and prayer must go together, for the prayer of faith is the prevailing prayer. David gave up his soul in a special manner to God. And with the words, ver. 5, our Lord Jesus yielded up his last breath on the cross, and made his soul a free-will offering for sin, laying down his life as a ransom. But David is here as a man in distress and trouble. And his great care is about his soul, his spirit, his better part. Many think that while perplexed about their worldly affairs, and their cares multiply, they may be excused if they neglect their souls; but we are the more concerned to look to our souls, that, though the outward man perish, the inward man may suffer no damage. The redemption of the soul is so precious, that it must have ceased for ever, if Christ had not undertaken it. Having relied on God's mercy, he will be glad and rejoice in it. God looks upon our souls, when we are in trouble, to see whether they are humbled for sin, and made better by the affliction. Every believer will meet with such dangers and deliverances, until he is delivered from death, his last enemy.
Verses 9-18 David's troubles made him a man of sorrows. Herein he was a type of Christ, who was acquainted with grief. David acknowledged that his afflictions were merited by his own sins, but Christ suffered for ours. David's friends durst not give him any assistance. Let us not think it strange if thus deserted, but make sure of a Friend in heaven who will not fail. God will be sure to order and dispose all for the best, to all those who commit their spirits also into his hand. The time of life is in God's hands, to lengthen or shorten, make bitter or sweet, according to the counsel of his will. The way of man is not in himself, nor in our friend's hands, nor in our enemies' hands, but in God's. In this faith and confidence he prays that the Lord would save him for his mercies's sake, and not for any merit of his own. He prophesies the silencing of those that reproach and speak evil of the people of God. There is a day coming, when the Lord will execute judgment upon them. In the mean time, we should engage ourselves by well-doing, if possible, to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Verses 19-24 Instead of yielding to impatience or despondency under our troubles, we should turn our thoughts to the goodness of the Lord towards those who fear and trust in Him. All comes to sinners through the wondrous gift of the only-begotten Son of God, to be the atonement for their sins. Let not any yield to unbelief, or think, under discouraging circumstances, that they are cut off from before the eyes of the Lord, and left to the pride of men. Lord, pardon our complaints and fears; increase our faith, patience, love, and gratitude; teach us to rejoice in tribulation and in hope. The deliverance of Christ, with the destruction of his enemies, ought to strengthen and comfort the hearts of believers under all their afflictions here below, that having suffered courageously with their Master, they may triumphantly enter into his joy and glory.
Psalms 31:1-24 . The prayer of a believer in time of deep distress. In the first part, cries for help are mingled with expressions of confidence. Then the detail of griefs engrosses his attention, till, in the assurance of strong but submissive faith, he rises to the language of unmingled joyful trust and exhorts others to like love and confidence towards God.
1. Expresses the general tone of feeling of the Psalm.
2-4. He seeks help in God's righteous government ( Psalms 5:8 ), and begs for an attentive hearing, and speedy and effectual aid. With no other help and no claim of merit, he relies solely on God's regard to His own perfections for a safe guidance and release from the snares of his enemies. On the terms "rock," &c., (compare Psalms 17:2 , Psalms 18:2 Psalms 18:50 , 20:6 , 23:3 , 25:21 ).
5, 6. commit my spirit--my life, or myself. Our Saviour used the words on the Cross ( Luke 23:46 ), not as prophetical, but, as many pious men have done, as expressive of His unshaken confidence in God. The Psalmist rests on God's faithfulness to His promises to His people, and hence avows himself one of them, detesting all who revere objects of idolatry (compare Deuteronomy 32:21 , 1 Corinthians 8:4 ).
7. hast known my soul, &c.--had regard to me in trouble.
8. shut me up . . . enemy--abandon to ( 1 Samuel 23:11 ).
large room--place of safety (compare Psalms 18:19 ).
9, 10. mine eye, &c.--denotes extreme weakness (compare Psalms 6:7 ).
grief--mingled sorrow and indignation ( Psalms 6:7 ).
soul and . . . belly--the whole person.
10. Though the effects ascribed to grief are not mere figures of speech--
spent . . . consumed--must be taken in the modified sense of wasted and decayed.
iniquity--or, suffering by it
11. among--or, literally, "from," or, "by" my enemies. The latter clauses describe the progress of his disgrace to the lowest degree, till,
12. he is forgotten as one dead, and contemned as a useless broken vessel.
13. For--introduces further reasons for his prayer, the unjust, deliberate, and murderous purposes of his foes.
14-18. In his profession of trust he includes the terms of the prayer expressing it.
15. times--course of life.
deliver . . . hand--opposed to "shut me up," &c. of Psalms 31:8 .
16. Make . . . shine--(Compare Numbers 6:25 , Psalms 4:6 ). Deprecating from himself, he imprecates on the wicked God's displeasure, and prays that their virulent persecution of him may be stopped.
19-21. God displays openly His purposed goodness to His people.
20. the secret of thy presence--or, covering of Thy countenance; the protection He thus affords; compare Psalms 27:5 for a similar figure; "dwelling" used there for "presence" here. The idea of security further presented by the figure of a tent and a fortified city [ Psalms 31:21 ].
22. For I said--literally, "And I said," in an adversative sense. I, thus favored, was despondent.
in my haste--in my terror.
cut off . . . eyes--from all the protection of Thy presence.
23, 24. the Lord . . . proud doer--literally, "the Lord is keeping faith," that is, with His people, and is repaying, &c. Then let none despair, but take courage; their hopes shall not be in vain.