Psalm 31: The Father’s Hands

Read Psalm 31.

Psalm 31 surprised me when I read it earlier today. I wasn’t expecting to find Jesus’ final words from the cross (at least according to Luke) right there in the middle of David’s lament. But there they were: “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 5; cf. Luke 23:46).

In full disclosure, I came to my Bible with a heavy heart today. Not too long ago, I was betrayed by someone I trusted. I was lied to and lied about, and I suffered a significant loss as a result. And now, I have nowhere to go but to God. He’s the only one I can bring my fears and doubts and anger and sadness to. All I can do is place myself in His hands.

In this psalm, David isn’t hanging from a cross, about to die, but he is in some sort of trouble. He asks God, “Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge” (Psalm 31:4). A thousand years later, a trap was set for Jesus too, but Jesus chose to step into it—to be arrested, tried, beaten, and condemned. He chose to lay down His life for the world. Even so, as He prepared to breathe His last, He spoke words from this psalm, putting His frail form in the Father’s hands, though I have no doubt that the Father was already holding His Son.

Faithful Jews hearing Jesus say these words from the cross would have known that the psalm doesn’t stop there. The next line says, “Deliver me, LORD, my faithful God” (v. 5). And so, it must have seemed a tragic thing to those listening and watching that God had not delivered Jesus. “When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

But that was just the way it appeared in the moment. The Father would, in fact, deliver the Son in the most glorious manner imaginable. On Sunday morning, Jesus would walk from His borrowed tomb, alive and glorified, never to die again. The trap set for Him by the powers of darkness was not a trap at all, but the God-ordained means to break the curse of sin and death.

Each of our stories here on earth will end differently. Some of us will die in a hospital bed at a ripe old age; others will go somewhat more unexpectedly. But for those of us who know Jesus, the new beginning that comes after all those sad endings will be the same. Like Jesus, we will wake from death, step into new life, and be transformed into glory. We have committed our spirits to God, and He will not abandon us.

In the meantime, we can take our griefs to God. And while we’re at it, we can bring our joys and our questions and our dreams as well. In fact, He commands us to give everything we are to Him. We are to be people who place ourselves wholly in His hands. That’s what they’re there for. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

What is this all about?

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