Prayer in Trial (Psalm of David)

Posté par diaconos le 26 décembre 2020

Into your hands Lord, I commend my spirit

Prayer in Trial (Psalm of David) dans Foi

# In Christianity: this Psalm is associated with repentance and forgiveness of faults committed. It is often associated with King David’s adultery with Batsheba. At the same time, we see links with the confession of sins which is taught in some New Testament texts. Among others, James 5:16 and 1 John 1:8-10. The reading and mediation of this psalm is encouraged when we have sinned, as it is of striking relevance in this time of epidemic. David’s words then become the words that God’s Spirit deposits in our repentant hearts that want to remain in communion with him without trying to hide our faults that he knows. The joy of salvation is renewed for us thanks to God’s forgiveness. The confession of our sin transforms us. God knows our faults, but he invites us to acknowledge them before him because it is we who will benefit from the joy of being forgiven. Among Catholics: since the High Middle Ages, in monasteries, this psalm was traditionally recited or sung on Sunday mornings5 , according to the distribution of St. Benedict of Nursia6,7. With regard to the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 31 is sung or recited at Vespers on the Thursday of the first week.

Prayer in the ordeal in this time of epidemic

(31:2) O LORD, I take refuge in thee: let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in thy righteousness !  Bow down thine ear to me, hasten to help me. Be to me a protective rock, a stronghold, where I find salvation.  (31:4) For thou art my rock, my fortress; and for thy name’s sake thou shalt lead me, thou shalt direct me.  (31:5) Thou shalt bring me forth out of the net that they have laid for me; for thou art my protector.
(31:6) I commit my spirit into thy hand: thou shalt deliver me, O LORD God of truth. (31:7) I hate them that cleave unto vain idols; and I trust in the LORD.  (31:8) I will be glad and rejoice in thy grace: for thou hast seen my affliction, and known the distresses of my soul,  31:9) And thou shalt not deliver me into the hand of the enemy Thou shalt put my feet into the open sea.  (31:10) Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: my face, and my soul, and my body, are worn out with grief. (31:11) My life is consumed in sorrow, and my years in sighing: my strength is spent because of my iniquity, and my bones wither.  All mine adversaries have brought shame upon me, and great shame upon mine neighbours, and terror upon my friends: they that see me outward flee from me. (31:13) I am forgotten out of hearts as a dead man, I am as a broken vessel.  (31:14) I have heard the evil words of many, and the terror that is round about them, when they conspire together against me: they plot to take my life.  (31:15) But I trust in thee, O LORD. I say, Thou art my God ! (31:16) My destiny is in thy hand; deliver me from mine enemies and persecutors ! Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; Save me by thy grace. (31:18) O LORD, let me not be confounded when I call upon thee. Let the wicked be put to shame: let them go down to Sheol in silence.  (31:19) Let their lying lips be dumb, that speak boldly against the righteous, with arrogance and contempt. O how great is thy lovingkindness, which thou hast reserved for them that fear thee, that thou bearest witness to them that seek refuge in thee, when thou seest the children of men !  (31:21) Thou protectest them in the shelter of thy countenance from them that persecute them; thou protectest them in thy tent from the tongues that attack them. 21 Blessed be the LORD. For he has shewed his mercy upon me, as though I had been in a fortified city. 22 I said in my haste, « I am driven out of your sight. But thou heardest the voice of my supplications, when I cried unto thee. 23 Love the LORD, all you godly men. The LORD preserveth the faithful, And punisheth the proud with a severe punishment. 24 Be strong, and let your heart be established, all you who hope in the LORD. (Ps 31, 2-25)

 Sadness turned to joy

 We find in this psalm an example of the power of prayer to change sadness into joyful trust in the heart of the believer, even before the external circumstances from which he suffers are changed. This result does not occur without a spiritual struggle which is reflected in the very distinct changes of tone of the psalm.

Already in the first part, the supplicant strives, while praying, to believe in the sure help of the Lord. Then sadness grips him as he exposes to God the miserable state his enemies have reduced him to (verses 10 to 14). But when he has entrusted everything to the Lord, the prayer of faith becomes victorious (verses 15 to 19). Therefore the last part of the psalm is nothing more than thanksgiving (verses 20 to 25).

The moment in David’s life when the lament in verses 10 to 14 seems most appropriate is when he was about to flee Saul’s court for good. He has been suffering for a long time already (verses 10 and 11); the malice against him has become general; they flee from him, they plot against him (verses 12 to 14), all that remains is for him to throw himself alone into the unknown, but he knows that having the Lord with him, he is as in a fortified city (verse 22).

The last word that Jesus spoke on the cross is taken from Psalm 31:6. God is truly our rampart (verse 5) only if we hand over to him that which is most intimate in us, the spirit, which is his own breath : « Then the Lord God fashioned man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature » (Psalm 31:6). « (Gen 2:7).

David surrendered his spirit to God to escape death. Jesus gave it to him to be kept in death itself : « Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. And when he had said this, he breathed his last. » (Lk 23:46)

Based on past deliverances, David saw the deliverance to come as already accomplished, for God, in whom all things are truth and faithfulness, cannot deceive him. Deceitful vanities are idols, the opposite of the God of truth : « I hear the cry of the daughter of my people from a far country : Is the Lord no longer in Zion ? Is her king no longer in her? Why have they offended me with their idols, these foreign vanities?  « (Jer 8, 19)

David did not pity, but despised those who, knowing the LORD, forsook him for what was a lie.  And David’s faith grew stronger and stronger; he saw himself delivered and went on his way without making any false move : « He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. « (Ps 23, 3).

David could only rejoice in God by looking away from his sad state. He thought, after looking him in the face in the presence of God, that his faith had won a complete victory. When David appealed to God’s righteousness and called himself righteous, he had no illusions about his state before God. The accusations of his enemies were false, but the Lord had the right to accuse him.

His cause was so decried that people were ashamed of having had any connection with him, that his friends trembled at being confused with him, and those who saw him from afar hastened away.

There is nothing more difficult, when we see that our faith is being mocked by everyone, than to address our words to God alone and stop at the testimony of our conscience that he is our God (Calvin).

The psalmist, like the Christian, rejoices even in afflictions, for it is then that the hidden treasure of God’s goodness is revealed to him in response to his prayer. That you keep in reserve under the veil of adversity, to unfold it at the right time and publicly (in the sight of the sons of men) to those who know how to believe in spite of everything.

The whole story of David was in these words. This goodness of God was the hidden manna of which he spoke : « He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, To him that overcometh will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone; and upon that stone is written a new name, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it. « (Rev 2:17)

What machinations could still harm those towards whom the LORD stooped down his face with kindness? The final thanksgiving and at the same time the entire psalm led to an exhortation addressed to all the faithful.

Deacon Michel Houyoux→

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Word Sunday : click here to read the paper →  Sadness Turned To Joy –

◊ Word of Inspiration : click here to read the paper  → Sadness Will Be Turned to Joy

Jesse Barrington : « Sorrow Turned Into Joy »-

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