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Heritage Message October 2004

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Thanks, Praise, Trust!

Psalm 31


- today is thanksgiving.

- a few weeks ago - crops underwater, kept raining, I wondered how easy it would be to have a thanksgiving celebration.

 - perhaps you have had a thanksgiving celebration after a loss or trial.

- How do we give thanks when life is hard?

Psalm 31 - contains a lament - “I am in distress”

            - ends in praise - “Praise be to the Lord.”

- structure

- not unusual for Psalms,

- middle of the Psalm - a lament.

- on either side - a statement of trust

- beginning and near the end - a prayer.

- a word of thanksgiving and praise

- an invitation.

- teaches us how to come to thanksgiving from difficulty.


- Psalm of David

- what situation?

- written to be used in worship

- it is “entirely suitable for use by any person in distress, whether threatened by enemies, idolaters, or sickness and nearness of death.”

I. Lament 9-13

A. Lament

- verses 9,10 - “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my 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.”

- situations of distress:

- strength failing, of affliction, of enemies, of being forgotten, of slander and of conspiracy.

- what situation of distress have you found in your life?

- on a day in June 1971, my dad had surgery to find out what was wrong with him. I phoned home to see how it had gone - He has 4-6 months, I innocently asked - till he is better? But it was not like that.

- loss of a loved one? Discovery of illness? Chronic illness? Loss of ability?


- expressions of distress

- “my eyes grow weak with sorrow.”

- our eyes grow weak because of all the crying. - Heidi

- grief that comes fills one’s whole being

- “my soul and my body with grief.”

- trials which are physical.

- strength failing because of affliction

- bones that have grown weak.

- “my life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning,”

- impact on the emotional and spiritual well-being as well.

            - “I am forgotten by them as though I were dead.”

                        - loneliness, no friends.

            - “the slander of many”

                        - subject of gossip?

            - David’s situation of conspiracy - Saul, Absalom.

- sometimes life is like that - difficulty, lament.

- But the Psalm does not stay at lament

II. Trust 6-8, 14

Surrounding the lament are expressions of trust.

A. Expressions Of Trust

- verses 6-8,

- “I trust in the LORD”


- verse 14

- “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

B. Reasons To Trust

- not a blind trust,

- if we had a friend who had the means to help us and cared about us, would we not rest in his care?

- that is God!!

- mention of “worthless idols” in verse 6.

- God is not an empty idol, a piece of wood or stone.

- the living God who has created all things.

- He has the power to help.

- made the heavens and the earth by a word.

- also loves us.

- Verse 7 - “I rejoice in your love.”

- God saw his affliction and knew the anguish of his soul.

- knows when we are in trouble,

- knows our heart,

- the character of God, the reason to trust.

- We too can put our trust in God for these same reasons.

III. Prayer 1-5, 15-18

- how do we bring together the experience of afflictions and trust in God?

- prayer.

A. The Psalmist’s Prayer

- verses 1-5

- Vs. 1 - “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge.”

- Vs. 2 - “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.”

- Vs. 3 - “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”

- Vs. 5 - “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.”


- verses 15-18,

- Vs. 15 - “My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.”

-Vs. 16 - “Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

- Vs. 17 - “Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you;”

- Where else can we go, but to God,

- to seek Him as the one who is our refuge.

- watch a child in a room full of strangers - eyes fixed on mother.

That is us - eyes fixed on God.

IV. Praise 19-22

Begin with distress; trust in God; pray…

A. Praise To God

- verses 19-22,

- expressions of thanks to God for all he has done and praise for His goodness.

- Vs. 19 - “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.”

- Vs. 21 - “Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.”

B. Praise For Answered Prayer

- What happens when we bring our laments to God in prayer?

- He answers our prayers

Prayer                                                  Thanksgiving              

vs. 1                                                     Vs. 19 -

- God is sought as refuge        for God’s goodness, refuge   

vs. 18                                                   Vs. 20 -

- verbal attacks                        protects from conspiracies     

vs. 16                                                   Vs. 21 -

- unfailing love                        reveals lovingkindness

vs. 2                                                     Vs. 22

- turn your ear to me              God heard prayer                                

- There are times when we doubt that God is there.

- keep our eyes open and wait

- he answers prayer and then we can praise Him.

C. Praise Today

- When Jesus hung on the cross, He quoted this Psalm.

- Luke 23:46, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ Vs. 5

- Psalmist - deliverance from death.

- Jesus - deliverance through death to a life beyond,


- Because Jesus prayed this and received his answer, we are also able to recognize the same kind of deliverance.

- praise God for the hope he gives us in this life and that He will see us through death to eternal life.


- Although God allows us to lament, he invites trust - prayer - praise & thanksgiving.

- Psalm concludes with two invitations

- 23 -“Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.”

            - encouragement to love God for all His acts

            - take time to give thanks for all the ways we have experienced His deliverance, His help, His blessings.

- 24 - “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”

            - encouragement to hope even in difficulty.

            - give thanks because God is there.

- Even if you are in the midst of trial, trust, pray and give thanks to God.

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