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Bible passage: Psalm 31

Psalm 31

For the director of music. A psalm of David.
 1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
       let me never be put to shame;
       deliver me in your righteousness.

 2 Turn your ear to me,
       come quickly to my rescue;
       be my rock of refuge,
       a strong fortress to save me.

 3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
       for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

 4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
       for you are my refuge.

 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
       redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

 6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
       I trust in the LORD.

 7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
       for you saw my affliction
       and knew the anguish of my soul.

 8 You have not handed me over to the enemy
       but have set my feet in a spacious place.

 9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
       my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
       my soul and my body with grief.

 10 My life is consumed by anguish
       and my years by groaning;
       my strength fails because of my affliction,
       and my bones grow weak.

 11 Because of all my enemies,
       I am the utter contempt of my neighbors;
       I am a dread to my friends—
       those who see me on the street flee from me.

 12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead;
       I have become like broken pottery.

 13 For I hear the slander of many;
       there is terror on every side;
       they conspire against me
       and plot to take my life.

 14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
       I say, "You are my God."

 15 My times are in your hands;
       deliver me from my enemies
       and from those who pursue me.

 16 Let your face shine on your servant;
       save me in your unfailing love.

 17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD,
       for I have cried out to you;
       but let the wicked be put to shame
       and lie silent in the grave.

 18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
       for with pride and contempt
       they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

 19 How great is your goodness,
       which you have stored up for those who fear you,
       which you bestow in the sight of men
       on those who take refuge in you.

 20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
       from the intrigues of men;
       in your dwelling you keep them safe
       from accusing tongues.

 21 Praise be to the LORD,
       for he showed his wonderful love to me
       when I was in a besieged city.

 22 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.

 23 Love the LORD, all his saints!
       The LORD preserves the faithful,
       but the proud he pays back in full.

 24 Be strong and take heart,
       all you who hope in the LORD.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


According to the heading, David wrote this psalm, but it fits well with the struggles we have just been reading about. Jeremiah echoes the words of verse 13 (Jeremiah 6:25; 20:3). Israel was clinging to worthless idols (v 6). There were those who trusted in God (v 14), but as here the overall story was one of godlessness.

Tell our story
So how does this psalm speak into our situations? Like David and like Jeremiah, we feel the pressure and pain of living among those who have no time for God, who chase the idols of money, status, sex or anything else that takes their fancy. The casual and ubiquitous, ‘O my God’ or in social media terms ‘OMG’, is a painful reminder that despite the words, few people take God seriously. How do we respond? We acknowledge the pain of living among those who have no time for God (v 6), trust God for our own protection (v 14), live in the hope that God will bring blessing (vs 19–21), encourage others to remain true to God (v 23) and tell our faith story as David did.

Leave it with God
God will bring us through. But it may not be an easy road. Sometimes there seems no way forward (vs 10–14), and all we can do is hang on and leave it with God.

John Grayston


Ask God to keep you true to him. If you are finding it hard to trust him, ask for his strength.

Deeper Bible study

As you read this psalm, did you find yourself wondering, ‘Is David happy or sad?’ The opening verses make it clear he’s in some kind of trouble (again!) and he develops this theme throughout the psalm. There are further complicating matters: David knows he is partly to blame; as he says, ‘my strength fails because of my iniquity’ (v 10, ESV). However, as we read on it seems the trouble is past (vs 21,22) and that God has brought him to ‘a spacious place’ (v 8). So, which is it, happy or sad?

The answer seems to be ‘both’, and that conclusion helps us to understand the main point of the psalm. Sometimes we may think, ‘If I’m following God, shouldn’t things turn out better for me than if I don’t?’ The answer depends on how we define ‘better’. David had trouble, conflict, enemies and real danger throughout his life – but he wasn’t on his own. He knew the Lord was his refuge, rock and fortress (vs 2,3). No matter what happened, David had the inner confidence of knowing that God was there. I’ve discovered that the times of trial in my life are often the times that I feel closest to God. It’s the bittersweet joy of hard times.

Perhaps the pivotal words in this psalm are those that Jesus quoted on the cross, ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ (v 5) (Luke 23:46). That’s the heart cry of a person who, in spite of the worst circumstances, has learned to trust God completely. How wonderful to know we can turn to him ‘just as I am’, not when our lives are less messy, not when we have no troubles, not even when we have no sin. We, too, can experience God as our refuge, rock and fortress any time we sincerely turn to him. 

Whitney T Kuniholm

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Micah 1–3

Psalm 144

Deep dark pit

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Rejoice, God is now with us
Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 2007 Make Way Music

I want to serve the purpose of God (In my generation)
Mark Altrogge
Copyright © 1982 People of Destiny International/Word Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 14 December 2018

    A joyful Gaudete Sunday to all WLrs! Today's carol: The Angel Gabriel from heaven came, his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame; 'All hail,' said he, 'thou lowly maiden Mary, most highly favoured lady.' Gloria! - Sabine Baring-Gould WORDS: https://hymnary.org/text/the_angel_gabriel_from_heaven_came MUSIC (GABRIEL'S MESSAGE ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHuokdjT4UY

  • Rachael Hampton | Saturday, 15 December 2018

    Joining you in prayer this week Iyabode, and Thelma. May God’s healing power be effective to undo what has been passed on to this dear little boy. Amen to Gilvin’s prayer for you all. To you and all our WL friends, v24 Amp Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for, hope for and expect the Lord.

  • Rachael Hampton | Saturday, 15 December 2018

    Oakley, that was goosbumpingly beautiful. Thank you.

  • Helen Stevenson | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    In life most of us from time to time r asked to throw ourselves on God's mercy and love. Times of difficulty, times of illness, Times of real distress for one reason or another. That's when psalms like this are so joyful and give us the strength and courage to do what David did knowing that God was with him in good times and bad. How the Psalms give us what we need just at the time we most need it.. A blessed Sunday to all word livers.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    God's timing is perfect. When the right time came, God sent forth His Son from Heaven into the world. Anytime prior to the time Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, would have been premature. His purpose for coming into the world was twofold. First, He came to "redeem them that were under the law." He did this by perfectly keeping the law, fulfilling it, and paying its curse (Mt. 5:17; Gal. 3:13). Secondly, Christ gave us the status of sonship with all its privileges. Now that is good news on this Gaudete Sunday. Doubt I'm not the only one who is wondering what Gaudete Sunday means.

  • Angela Munday | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    When all our idols are discarded then God really knows He has our full attention and we can say with David “I’m leaping and singing in the circle of Your love. I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love.” (Verse 7) God loves His children from conception and is saddened when backs are turned on Him and He is rejected; His divine love continues.......It waits ‘to forgive and forget.’

  • Angela Munday | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    GILVIN - I wondered too and apparently it is the third Sunday of Advent.

  • Elly Pearce | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    Gaudete means be joyful I think

  • Sue Sebborn | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    Apparently gaudete means rejoice in Latin and it's focus is phillipians 4 v4. Something new to me this Christmas.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    GILVIN Advent is a period of self denial and reflection designed to prepare us for the feast of Christmas. It mirrors Lent. In our modern culture, both secular and church, we have lost some of this aspect. The third Sunday of Lent and Advent (Mothering Sunday and Gaudete) is a break from the austerity and fasting and is a day of joyful celebration. This Sunday is the day we recognise Mary's part in the Incarnation. If you have ever seen a traditional Advent wreath where there are three purple candles, one pink and one white, this Sunday is the pink one reflecting a lifting from the restraints of the other three purple Sundays and the white candle is the Christlight of Christmas day.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    There are lots of liturgical resources and explanations on YT. Here's a link, which explains Gaudete better than I. https://youtu.be/FPPp_8gIwl8. RACHAEL I so pleased you enjoyed it. As a child, like many others, I tried to get away with singing 'most highly flavoured gravy' instead of 'most highly favoured lady' my mother was always one step ahead of me and would just give me 'that look' lol

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    Thank you OAKLEY.I had no idea this Sunday was Mothering Sunday too. I've seen many Advent candles, we have one in our Anglican church but I'm sure they are all red candles except the middle one which is white. I like the idea of the pink one lifting from he restraints of the other 3. It so reminds me of why Jesus came. He lifted more than 3 restraints from me, as I'm sure He has many others. I intend a joyful Sunday and it's my prayer for one and all.

  • Julie H.C | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    Praying for you THELMA at such a distance from your family at this time of need. Thankfully our Heavenly Father is there overseeing that situation and He does all things well. IYABODE praying for your knee surgery on Tuesday, for a sense of peace beforehand, skill for your surgeons and complete healing. A blessed Lord's Day to you all my friends in Christ. I am just going to our Family Carol Service, praying that many from the community will join us.

  • Ian Dalton | Sunday, 16 December 2018

    Missed church this morning with a bit of a cough and cold, but reading today's comments has been really uplifting and just perfect to keep me centred on the coming of Jesus. Thank you all for being such a treasure of a community; Oakley, I had to laugh at your now well-hidden inner rogue - fantastic. Adding my prayers to others here for those who are going through difficult times. God bless you with joy in Him this Sunday.

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