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We shall look briefly at the thirty-first Psalm. There we have a picture that links with the experience of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as with the individual saint. It is a Psalm in which the believer is showing his trust and confidence in God, rejoicing in His mercy, praising Him for His goodness, yet looking back to days of darkness and thanking God for deliverance.
“In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in Thy righteousness.” The word translated “deliver” is exactly the same as the word for “save” so that this verse may be translated, “Save me in Thy righteousness.” That is the only way God will save anybody. I always call this Martin Luther’s verse. When he was a monk in the Augustinian monastery he was in great distress about his soul, and he tried by all kinds of penances to make some sort of atonement for his own sins, but he became more and more miserable and distressed. Then one day he was reading the Latin psalter and came upon this verse, “In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: save me in Thy righteousness,” and Luther stopped and looked at it and said, “What a strange verse. I can understand how God can damn me in His righteousness; how He can banish me from His presence in His righteousness for my sin deserves that; but if He saves me, surely He must save me in His mercy, not in His righteousness.” But there was the word, “Save me in Thy righteousness,” and Luther began mulling it over in his mind. He was led to turn to the Epistle to the Romans and read, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). Not the mercy of God, merely, not the grace of God, simply, but the righteousness of God. The gospel shows how God can be righteous and yet justify ungodly sinners; and here, David, hundreds of years before the Cross, looks on in faith to the coming of the Saviour and says, “In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: save me in Thy righteousness. Bow down Thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be Thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.” And then faith leads him to say, “Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me,” and he calls on God to pull him out of the net. In verse 5 we have the words used by the Lord Jesus Christ when He hung upon the Cross, “Into Thine hand I commit My spirit.” The Lord used these very words, showing us that He applied at least a part of the Psalm to Himself, to His own experience as He hung there upon that Cross bearing judgment due to sin.
Then look at verse 11 and again we can hear the Saviour speaking, “I was a reproach among all Mine enemies, but especially among My neighbours, and a fear to Mine acquaintance: they that did see Me without fled from Me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.” That is what Jesus is to the world, just as a dead man out of mind. If He ever lived, well, He is dead, gone the way of all flesh. One day there came into my book room in Oakland a gentleman whom I did not know at first. He asked for a Bible, and when he told me the particular type of Bible he wanted I rather suspected that he was what we call a Christian Scientist. They generally use the Bible without these turn-over edges. I said, “You want the binding that matches Mrs. Eddy’s ‘Science and Health,’ I presume.”
“Yes,” he said; “I am the first reader of such and such a Christian Science Church in the city.”
I said, “Do you love that Book?”
“Oh yes; we read this in all our services. I read a portion from this Book, and the other reader reads a portion from Mrs. Eddy’s ‘Science and Health.’ The two agree very much.”
I said, “What is the precious blood of Jesus to you?”
I never saw a man turn so angry over a simple question. He flared up; his face worked convulsively for a moment or two, and then his fist came down on my desk, and he said, “The blood of Jesus! It is nothing more to me than the blood of any other dead Jew.”
That is just what the Word of God says, “Forgotten as a dead man out of mind.” Oh, the blasphemy of it I said, “Well, that is what you say about the blood. Do you know what God says of it? The precious blood of Christ.’”
What do you say? Is it precious to you, or is Christ to you “forgotten as a dead man out of mind”?
Notice one or two verses in the latter part of this Psalm. You have often used the words of verse 15, “My times are in Thy hand.” Do you really mean that? Is it not precious to know that “my times are in Thy hand”?
“My times are in Thy hand;
Father, I wish them there;
A father’s hand can never cause
His child a needless tear.”
And so one can just trust everything to Him, knowing that He will bring out all to His glory.
Then verse 19, “Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!” You may not see it now but it will all come out eventually. “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 31". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30