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God’s Word for You

Psalm 31:19-22 in the shelter of God’s face

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 6, 2018

In the final part of his Psalm, David presents three pairs of verses which express the same theme in different ways. God cares for his people and blesses them, and there is a warning for those who reject God and who will be condemned by him on the Last Day.

19 O how great is your goodness
  which you have stored up for those who fear you,
  which you distribute in the sight of men
  to those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence
  you hide them from the plots of men;
  you hide them in the shelter of your face from accusing tongues.

God blesses his people in the sight of everyone. This recalls David’s words, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). The shelter God provides is described with the remarkable phrase, “the shelter of your face.” In Hebrew this is basether panekah, “the hiding place of your face” (NIV “your dwelling”). What better refuge can there be than in the very presence of God, where the wicked cannot stand? No one can accuse those who are under the shelter of God’s forgiveness.

21 Praise be to the LORD,
  for he has shown his wonderful love to me
  when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
  “I am driven far from your sight.”
  But you heard my cry for mercy,
  when I called to you for help.

When David’s son Absalom tried to seize control of the throne, David had to leave the city (2 Samuel 15-16). This passage might fit that historical moment, or some other threat to David’s throne. But especially important to us is the way the king teaches us to rely on God’s help, beginning with his mercy (verse 22). We do not seek out God’s aid without recognizing that we need his forgiveness first, always first, because this is what establishes our right relationship with him.

Give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins—yours and mine. Through Jesus, we have the right place with God, in the shelter of his face, in his loving embrace for all eternity.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.