Psalms – Chapter 31

It's Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out to Get You

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Psalm was composed by David while he was on the run from King Saul. In it, David says that G-d is his refuge. David hopes that, in return for his trust, G-d will not disappoint him. Even if David does not deserve salvation, he hopes that G-d will still provide it, since G-d is righteous.

David prays that G-d will hear his plea and swiftly grant him relief from his pursuers. G-d is David’s “rock” (i.e., a steadfast source of protection from attack) and his “fortress” (which protects from all sides). David asks that G-d help so that His Name will be sanctified, if for no other reason. He asks to be saved from the trap his enemies have set for him. David trusts his soul to G-d’s care, secure that G-d is True and will redeem him.

Those who put their faith in idols or divination digust David. Even in the worst of times David never turned to socerors for a “second opinion.” (While he does not specifically mean to implicate Saul here, this was an area in which Saul erred. Even though he rid the nation of most sorcerers, Saul still turned to the “witch of Endor” in I Samuel 28.) David rejoices in G-d’s kindness. G-d is aware of David’s suffering and He does not allow David to fall into enemy hands. Rather, He has freed David to do as he sees fit.

David asks G-d to favor him, as he has been weakened, presumably by the disease we meantioned earlier in chapter 6. His eyesight has dimmed from his troubles, and he has endured physical as well as spiritual deprivation. His life has been an contiunous flow of trouble, causing him to age prematurely. David then acknowledges that these pains were justly sent from G-d, in order that he may atone for his sins.

David’s enemies use his name as an insult and his own neighbors treat him worse than anyone. His friends are appalled by the situation and they flee from him. They’ve given up on him as already dead. Everybody is conspiring against him. Nevertheless, David ignores all this and puts his trust in G-d, Who is in control: He will rescue David from his enemies.

David asks G-d to shine the light of His face upon him and save him through His kindness.He asks not to be let down after calling upon G-d, which would be an embarassment. The people who unjustly persecute him are the ones who should be embarassed, when they have to pay for their evil deeds. David prays that his foes’ lies against him (and against G-d) be silenced.

How great is G-d’s generosity to reward the righteous, David says; He has stored the best away for those devoted to Him. Additionally, He allows the faithful to benefit in this world, in full view of their detractors. G-d should continue to protect them, even when His involvement is not always self-evident.

David concludes that G-d has always been good to him, referencing the events in the city of Kila in I Samuel 23. At first, David thought he was lost, but he soon realized that G-d was with him, as He always is. The faithful should love G-d because He protects them, but He carefully repays the arrogant what they deserve. Don’t despair and G-d will give you strength!

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