Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Entrusting Our Lives to God

Part 3 of Summer in the Psalms

Text: Psalm 31




Into you hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God (v. 5). 


Psalm 31 and Jesus 

Psalm 31 was written by David. It’s a psalm of an innocent sufferer. The Gospel of Luke tells us that just before Jesus died, he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). These same words were written by David in Psalm 31.
It seems clear that it is not merely these few words that Jesus and the Gospel writer wished to bring to the reader’s attention, but the whole context of Psalm 31 in which they originally stood. In a position of public condemnation and shame, perceived by the surrounding community to have been a criminal, a charlatan, and a failure, Jesus made his last speech the words of this psalm. [1]
As you read Psalm 31, think to yourself about why Jesus—while he was suffering and dying—identified with David’s struggles in this psalm.


David's Troubles

David writes, “I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (v. 13). David had enemies who wanted to take his life. People were believing all sorts of lies about him. He wants vindication, and he’s trusting God to eventually bring about that vindication.

He says, “Into your hand I commit my spirit” (v. 5). In verse 15, he makes a similar statement: “My times are in your hands.” He doesn’t believe that God will give him a life free from trouble and injustice. But he believes that in the end all wrongs will be made right. His enemies will be dealt with, and the truth will be known. Evil will not have the last word. 


The Ultimate Innocent Sufferer

Jesus was the ultimate innocent sufferer. Three times in Luke 23, Pilate declared that Jesus was not guilty of any crime: (1) “I find no guilt in this man” (v. 4); (2) “Nothing deserving death has been done by him” (v. 15); (3) “I have found in him no guilt deserving death” (v. 22). After Jesus died, the centurion said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” (v. 47).

Jesus never committed a single crime, yet he was executed. On top of that, as he was dying on the cross, he was mocked and humiliated. Psalm 31 begins with David requesting, “Let me never be put to shame” (v. 1). Jesus was put to shame on the cross. And think of the true identity of the one who was dying on that cross! “In the Hebrew context of Psalm 31, shame is not so much a feeling (although feelings must have been involved) as it is an outward, visible circumstance of public disgrace.” [2] While suffering on the cross, Jesus’ enemies mocked him: “He saved others; let him save himself” (Luke 23:35).

The apostle Peter writes, “When [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus was an innocent sufferer who had the power to destroy his enemies. Yet he “did not revile in return”; he “did not threaten.” He knew that in the end all wrongs would be made right.


Worth It All

There is also much in this psalm that Jesus could not identify with—especially verse 8: “You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy” (v. 8). David was delivered, but Jesus was executed. The life of Jesus seemed to have a tragic ending. Was it a mistake for Jesus to put his trust in his Father? No! We know how the story really ends. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV). There would be a happy ending!

As Jesus died, we should live. We should commit our lives to God. We should say, as Jesus did, “Father, into your hands I commit my life.” This means to trust in God no matter what happens. Jesus didn’t stop trusting during his intense suffering on the cross. We must not stop trusting God when life gets difficult.

Why should I commit my life to God? First, I should commit my life to God because he loves me. Some people might ask, “What does God know about unjust suffering?” He knows a lot about it. God the Son became a man and suffered unjustly. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Why did he die for us? To save us from the punishment that we deserved because of our sins.

Second, I should commit my life to God because in the end it will be worth it. “One entrusts one’s spirit to God not merely in light of life’s imminent end but also in light of the conviction that life will continue.” [3] This life is not all there is. When we stand before Jesus one day, no sacrifice will be regretted.


A Happy Ending

Psalm 31 has a happy ending: “Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful.... Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (vv. 23-24). There is a happy ending to all who say, “Father, into your hands I commit my life.” Today, Jesus does not regret His decision to endure the suffering of the cross. And if you put your trust in Him, you will not regret that decision when you stand before him in heaven. There will be a happy ending.

Have you said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”?

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[1] Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms: Volume 1, 541.
[2] Ibid., 528.
[3] John Goldingay, Psalms: Volume 1, 450.