Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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Psalm 31 shows us the mixed expressions of the psalmist’s sentiment in experiencing and enjoying God’s salvation from his distress. In Psalm 31 David does not speak of God’s salvation from eternal perdition and from God’s judgment but of salvation from his distress. In Psalm 31 he lists the items of his distress.

A. Taking Refuge in God as a Rock of Protection and a Fortress to Save Him out of the Net Secretly Laid for Him by His Enemies

David said that he took refuge in God as a rock of protection and a fortress to save him out of the net secretly laid for him by his enemies (vv. 1-4). The Lord Jesus said that He as the rock is for building the church (Matt. 16:18), but David said that God as the rock was for his protection to save him from his distress. God’s desire is to save people mainly from eternal perdition and judgment, not from their distress. Once we are saved from eternal perdition, God wants to continue to be our salvation so that we can live and magnify Christ (Phil. 1:19-21a). Perhaps the wife wants to be saved from her husband’s bad temper, and the husband wants to be saved from his wife’s disapproval. In other words, they want to be saved from their distress. But God’s salvation for the New Testament believers is for them to be sustained and strengthened to live and magnify Christ.

David also exulted in God’s kindness that He had not delivered him into the hand of his enemies but had made his feet stand in a place broad and free (vv. 5-8). These expressions indicate that David was too self-centered even in seeking God’s salvation.

B. Enumerating to God
His Afflictions and Distresses

In verses 9-13 David enumerated to God his afflictions and distresses: "Be gracious to me, O Jehovah, for I am in distress./My eye is wasted with grief,/Indeed my soul and body" (v. 9). It is very good for David to ask God to be gracious to him, that is, to have grace upon him. This sounds somewhat like the New Testament. David also said that his eye was wasted with grief, even his soul and his body. To be wasted means to be dried up. David said that he had become a dried up person through his grief, which to him was distress.

In verses 10-13 he said, "For my life has been consumed in sorrow,/And my years, in sighing./My strength fails because of my iniquity,/And my bones have wasted away./Because of all my adversaries,/I have become a reproach,/And especially so to my neighbors,/And something dreaded to my acquaintances;/Those who see me on the street flee from me./I am forgotten, like a dead man out of mind;/I am like a destroyed vessel./For I hear the slander of many;/Terror is on every side./When they take counsel together against me,/They scheme to take my life." All of these items in these verses were considered by David as his distresses. David’s word concerning others’ taking counsel against him and scheming to take his life was actually the experience of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 27:1). In this point, David bore the responsibility to show Jesus to us.

David’s distresses included his grief, sorrow, and the reproach of his opposers. We Christians today who follow the Lord also suffer much distress, including persecution. The New Testament, however, shows us that the apostle Paul did not complain about this. In the book of Romans, Paul said that all things worked together for his good that he could be transformed as one of God’s many sons into the image of the firstborn Son of God (8:28-29). Paul did not complain about his distress. Instead, he realized that all things worked together for his good that he could be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)