Memorizing Scripture verses is not something I am good at. I usually don’t try as hard as I should, but do find Bible passages set to music in song easier to call to mind. I seem to be able to remember all sorts of other random facts and figures, though! We are often encouraged to meditate on God’s Word and commit it to memory, for many good reasons, as people of God to know their Father better. It should come as no surprise that writers of the Scriptures knew their psalms well, especially Psalm 31.
David is the writer of Psalm 31, and re-used some of it in the first verses of Psalm 71. Jeremiah referred to this psalm six times in the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Paul called it to mind in I Corinthians 16:13: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (ESV). Stephen commended his life to God in death with Psalm 31:5 in Acts 7:59: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon (the Lord), and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (ASV) Jesus Himself recalled Psalm 31:5 at His death: “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit!’” (Luke 23:46a ESV)
The last words of martyrs Polycarp and John Huss were Psalm 31:5: “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” (ESV) Martin Luther, meditating on the first verses of Psalm 31, came to understand how God’s righteousness came not to condemn him as a sinner, but given to him when he put his faith in Christ.
If we remember Psalm 31:14: “But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’” (ESV), we know that in the midst of our troubles we don’t have to dwell on them, but know that our Lord is greater than all of them and be at peace in the knowledge that our times are in His hands (See Psalm 31:24). The last words of Psalm 31 are a call for courage in times of trouble: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24 ESV) When meditating on and memorizing Scripture seems difficult and time consuming, consider how this powerful psalm has inspired and given courage to writers of Scripture, martyrs, visionaries, and not least of all the Lord Jesus Himself. I suggest listening to “Make Your Face to Shine Upon Your Servant” by Esther Mui, for a wonderful musical version of verses in Psalm 31.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, “In You do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in Your righteousness deliver me! Incline Your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For You are my rock and fortress; and for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:1-3a ESV). Amen.