Have you ever heard someone describe life as a mixture of bitter and sweet? Or, “I have to take the bitter with the sweet?" What they are saying is, "I must learn to accept life’s misfortunes as well as its joys."
Psalm 31 is a combination of sorrow and praise. In v. 1-2, David opens with a prayer request. The tone of his prayer shows his trust in God: In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me and rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
In v. 3-8 he goes down memory lane recounting the faithfulness of God. God has seen his affliction, and God has known the distress of his soul. Since the Lord stood with him in the past, he is confident God will help in this present crisis. Did you notice 31:5? Who said these famous words—into your hands I commit my spirit? Isn’t this amazing, that we are reading the same bible Jesus read!
In v.9-13 he presents a laundry list of concerns to God. We can do the same. We can bring all our anxieties and cares to the Lord, because he cares for us.
He moves quickly from the bitter back to the sweet v. 14-15: But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, you are my God. My times are in your hand: rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors. He knows the problems of his life, but he also knows God's power. Every moment of his life, the sublime and the mundane, are in God’s hand.
He goes back to praying specific requests in v. 16-18. In 19-24, the psalm closes with great assurance that the God who has made promises in the past and kept them will keep them into the future. The last verse invites us to be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
We cannot predict what the future holds. Job knows a thing or two about adversity. He said, but man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward Job 5:7. Why is life filled with such pain and sorrow? Remember, this world is in rebellion against God. Until Christ returns with new heaven and new earth, our lives will be a mixture of bitter and sweet. David teaches us to accept this reality by placing our times in God’s hand.
Faithful God, you are the One that we lean upon. You said that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without you knowing it. All of life is before you. We have so many questions; many disappointments and unresolved issues in our lives. Help us to trust you in the dark. Even when we can't find our way, help us to trust your hand. As David said, our times are in your hand. For this we are grateful, amen.