WHAT DEFINES ME
Dear Father, I praise you for the gift of power and strength which enables me to stand firm in times of crisis.
Read PSALM 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 In you, 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 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
as for me, 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 given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,[b]
and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
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, Lord,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
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 faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
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)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectConsider some identities you have – parent, spouse, friend, worker, retiree. What most defines you? Pray for God’s strength in the roles you have.
This psalm records the anguish of a person under siege – physically (v 21) and emotionally (v 9). Strength is failing (v 10). It is not only enemies that are the problem. Even close friends are turning away (v 11). The psalmist is alone, surrounded by whispers and betrayal (v 13). How easy to be crushed at times such as this. So often we let circumstances or others’ opinions define us.
Yet there is another way. Note the psalmist’s defiant ‘but’ in verse 14. The psalmist looks to God to be his refuge and strength (vs 2,3). His life is in God’s hands (v 15). When the world is falling apart, God alone can be trusted to set his people in a secure and ‘spacious place’ (v 8).
This prayer of lament by David has been used by believers throughout the centuries in times of distress and danger. Jesus prayed it as he hung on the cross (Luke 23:46). Despite those who betrayed him he was confident of who he was and of God’s purposes for him. The psalm can help us do the same. We can discover our true identity as a child of God and, like Jesus, say, ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ (v 5).
In this coming week watch out for times when difficulties or the opinions of others begin to shape your identity. Refuse to be shaped by this. Be who you really are.
Patient One, sometimes life seems to make no sense to me. I trust you during such times, assured of being in your good, guiding hand.
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