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God’s Word for You

Psalm 31:14-18 I say, “You are my God.”

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 5, 2018

Up to this point, David has prayed about his enemies and the troubles that surround him, “terror on every side.” Now he expresses his confident trust in God, just as we should.

14 But as for me, I trust in you, O LORD,
  I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand.
  Deliver me from the hand of my enemies
  and from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant.
  Save me in your mercy.

The simple creed “You are my God” was a favorite of David, who says it five or six times (Psalm 31:14, 63:1, 86:2, 140:6 and 143:10; it also occurs in the anonymous Psalm 118:28). Isaiah quotes the king in both halves of his book, once to proclaim law (Isaiah 44:17) and once to proclaim gospel (Isaiah 25:1). David’s faith and confidence soar in the wonderfully comforting “My times are in your hand.” He describes the Lord’s blessing and care like the sun coming out from behind a cloud: “Let your face shine on your servant.” We who wait a long time for spring to arrive remember how glorious it is to finally feel the warmth of the sun when that day finally arrives.

In the last line of verse 16, David prays, “Save me in your mercy.” The word hesed is sometimes mistranslated “love” or “loving-kindness,” but “mercy” is the right word in English. David reminds us by his confession that we are rescued from our enemies, especially sin, death and the devil, by the mercy of God. This mercy was expressed to its fullest in the crucifixion of Jesus, whose death paid the atoning price for our sin and guilt.

17 Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD,
  for I call on you.
  Let the wicked be put to shame,
  let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let lying lips be silent,
  those who speak insolently against the righteous
  with pride and contempt.

Although we naturally want to pray for the conversion of our enemies to faith, and subsequently to welcome them into the family of believers as friends, there are times when this is impossible. In such cases, the believer may pray as David does, that God would condemn them and close their mouths so that they are no longer able to spread lies and slander about God and his people.

David’s argument is expressed simply, but let’s look at it by reversing the order of his words in verse 17: “Let the wicked be put to shame” (condemned) and may I not be put to shame (may I be taken to eternal life). David also describes the actions of the faithful both on earth and in heaven with the words, “I call on you.” To call on the name of the Lord is to proclaim what he has done, which is what the very earliest patriarchs did, which Moses describes: “Seth had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26). Paul describes the family of believers with the same words: “all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

Those who do not do this, who don’t trust in God and who don’t put their faith in him, are the unbelievers who are condemned. When David says, “Let them be silent in the grave,” he means more than an earthly tomb. Those who are damned do not get the opportunity to preach their lies forever in hell. Their blasphemy is ended forever. Although such a scene as the rich man asking questions in hell is presented to us in Luke 16, that man says nothing that might offend God. He is capable of doing nothing at all except to suffer in his pain (Luke 16:23), to cry out for relief (Luke 15:24), to respect God and those who are in heaven (Luke 16:30), and to wish—perhaps in vain—that his loved ones would not follow him into hell (Luke 16:27-28).

Call on the name of the Lord with your words and with your actions, and know that he sent his Son to rescue you from your sins. Praise him for this every day.

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.