Monday, January 12, 2009

Psalm 31:14-15

But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands…
(Psalm 31:14-15a NIV)

A while ago I read this verse in a devotional reading I was doing and it really jumped out at me. I decided to memorize it immediately, and I find myself often repeating this verse in my head. It’s proven to be a verse of great comfort!
So, as I usually do when I have a verse that I particularly find myself mulling over, I read as much about it as possible to grasp its fullness.
This passage had quite a bit of commentary on it, and here’s what I all learned about it:

Verse 14a – “But I trust in you, O LORD”…
Paraphrasing John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible: this verse focuses on the fact that David’s faith was revived again and was set upon the Lord, after all of the discouraging views he had of things. He committed himself to Him, believing He was able to help him and deliver him in his time of trouble.
Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible expounds this, saying, “everything looked black and dismal round about [David], and threatened to drive him to despair: “But I trust in you, O LORD” and was thereby kept from sinking. His enemies robbed him of his reputation among men, but they could not rob him of his comfort in God, because they could not drive him from his confidence in God.”
Spurgeon comments that, “notwithstanding all afflicting circumstances, David's faith maintained its hold, and was not turned aside from its object.” He makes this applicable to us reminding us that “so long as our faith, which is our shield, is safe, the battle may go hard, but its ultimate result is no matter of question.”

Verse 14b – “I say, You are my God”…
This phrase has so much confident power in it… as Matthew Henry looked at it, it’s as though David is saying here, “I have chosen you for me, and you have promised to be mine.” Henry’s commentary continues: “and, if he be ours and we can by faith call him so, it is enough when we can call nothing else ours.” What a comfort, and what a wonderful truth to have such confidence in!
Spurgeon explains this further as he says, “[David] proclaimed aloud his determined allegiance to Jehovah. He was no fair weather believer, he could hold to his faith in a sharp frost, and wrap it about him as a garment fitted to keep out all the ills of time.” What a great way of wording it… “determined allegiance” – that is exactly what we see here in this short, yet powerful phrase.

Verse 15a – “My times are in Your hands”…
To start very simply, the word “times” is here translated as being one’s “course of life” (Jamieson, Faussett and Brown). To make this phrase personal, one can say:
“Whatever changes come, you govern them by your providence” (Geneva Study Bible); or “My times - all the affairs and events of my life, are wholly in thy power” (John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible).
Matthew Henry really brings this verse – “my times are in Your hands” – to the believer’s life as he expands on it further, saying, “If God has our times in his hand, he can help us; and, if he is our God, he will help us; and then what can discourage us? It is a great support to those who have God for their God that their times are in his hand and he will be sure to order and dispose of them for the best, to all those who commit their spirits also into his hand, to suit them to their times, as David here. The time of life is in God's hands, to lengthen or shorten, embitter or sweeten, as he pleases, according to the counsel of his will. Our times (all events that concern us, and the timing of them) are at God's disposal; they are not in our own hands, for the way of man is not in himself, not in our friends' hands, nor in our enemies' hands, but in God's.”

Spurgeon gives a beautiful word picture of this, stating that the “sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for care, a grave for despair.”

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