The Book of Psalms
Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET
PSALM 31 Psa 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 ( Psa 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 Psa 17:2 18:2, 50 20:6 23:3 25:21 ).
5, 6. commit my spirit--my life, or myself. Our Saviour used the words on the Cross ( Luk 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 Deu 32:21 1Cr 8:4 ).
7. hast known my soul, &c.--had regard to me in trouble.
8. shut me up . . . enemy--abandon to ( 1Sa 23:11 ).
large room--place of safety (compare Psa 18:19 ).
9, 10. mine eye, &c.--denotes extreme weakness (compare Psa 6:7 ).
grief--mingled sorrow and indignation ( Psa 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 (see on JF & B for Ps 40:12).
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 Psa 31:8 .
16. Make . . . shine--(Compare Num 6:25 Psa 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 Psa 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 [ Psa 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.