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Psalm 31 finds the psalmist in a dark place, but before he describes the darkness, he describes his refuge. He lets us know that he’s taken refuge in the Lord. That the Lord is his rock of refuge and strong fortress to save him. He declares that he has committed his spirit into God’s hands and he prays that God will deliver him.
It’s so helpful for me to hear the psalmist describe the simultaneous reality of his darkness and his refuge. In modern Christianity, it can often feel like results are supposed to come instantaneously when we cry out to God for help. That we are in the darkness, we pray that God would take the darkness away, and the darkness is gone! But time and time again, that is not the pattern we see in the Psalms. Yes, the psalmist is praying that God will take away the darkness, but the right now prayer is that God will be his refuge, shelter, and fortress in the midst of the darkness. This is something I can hold on to. This is something that actually gives my soul peace as I deal with my own seasons of darkness.
The middle of Psalm 31 goes to some pretty dark places: I am in destress, my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak…I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends–those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
The picture of broken pottery is powerful poetry, encompassing the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual anguish the psalmist is in. His closest friends see him as an object of dread. There is so much pain in just that one line.
I’m again reminded: where do I go to during my times of darkness? Where do you go to?
The psalmist goes back to God. He puts his trust in God. He worships God. He ends up communing with and in God’s love. Verse 21 sums this up so well. The psalmist is in anguish so he goes to God for his refuge. The war is still raging all around him, but he is in the refuge that is God. In that refuge, God shows him the wonders of his love. God shows him his mercy. This allows him to close the psalm with a call to all of God’s people to love the Lord. To be strong and take heart and to continue to put your hope in the Lord.
I love that God’s love for us is ultimate solution. It’s what we get to experience when we go to God in the midst of our darkness. It’s what seals the ultimate victory we have in God. It is our hope, the hope, in the midst of a world of brokenness and false promises. This isn’t cliche or a shallow Sunday school answer. God’s love holds us. It is real. It is with us. His presence is with us. He longs to meet with us in the refuge.
Invitation to reflection:
Prayer for the day: Thank you for being my refuge, God. I need it so much! The war is raging on around me and I need you. I need your presence. I need you to hold me. I need you to be my hope. I need to experience your love for me. Thank you that you love me. Thank you that you are with me. Thank you that you are my Deliverer.
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