Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #224 of the Bible 2021 podcast.  We are reading Psalm 31 today and our focus is on Does Faith Save us From Calamity? Does God Being Our Refuge Protect us From All Troubles? .  We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners .   Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Psalm 46:1 contains a promise that has comforted believers for centuries, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” And it is true – all true. God is our refuge – our hiding place, our safe harbor, and He is our helper and the lifter of our head. Though we walk through the shadow of death, He will be with us. Today’s Psalm contains similar truths that make our heart soar, but if we stop at the quotable parts, and only focus on the positive parts of this Psalm – the parts that might find their home on a greeting card – we might find our theology unbalanced. Consider these great promises:

For you are my rock and my fortress;
you lead and guide me
for your name’s sake.
You will free me from the net
that is secretly set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I entrust my spirit;
you have redeemed me, Lord, God of truth. Psalm 31:3-5

When we just see these verses out of their overall context – they sound incredible – hopeful, and wonderful…and if we aren’t careful – we will get the idea that God will protect us from all harm and all calamity. Most people who have been Christians for a long time, however, realize that this is not how life is. Life has troubles, and we are not shielded from all of it. I was talking to a friend recently who was in a church where almost half of the families had been hit by Covid – but not his family. He was thankful for God’s grace, but not really under a view that their family was more faithful or covered by more grace than the other families – he just noted that God had sovereignly chosen to protect them, for now. Good attitude, and a right attitude, and a fairly uncommon attitude. What I often see in Christians who are thriving during difficult times is that they think that God is blessing them more than most, or their faith is protecting them more than most. Conversely, I often see Christians going through difficult times – fighting covid, job problems, health problems, relationship problems, children problems, etc – they are thinking that God is not protecting them enough because of their lack of faith, or something like that. A FULL reading of this Psalm, and others like it help us have a more balanced and biblical view of our trials and blessings.

This Psalm, for instance, begins with a prayer for God’s protection:

Lord, I seek refuge in you;
let me never be disgraced.
Save me by your righteousness.
Listen closely to me; rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a mountain fortress to save me. Psalm 31:1-2

And then, there is the reassuring and quotable passages….and then – we have this:

Be gracious to me, Lord,
because I am in distress;
my eyes are worn out from frustration—
my whole being as well.
10 Indeed, my life is consumed with grief
and my years with groaning;
my strength has failed
because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 I am ridiculed by all my adversaries
and even by my neighbors.
I am dreaded by my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street run from me.
12 I am forgotten: gone from memory
like a dead person—like broken pottery.
13 I have heard the gossip of many;
terror is on every side.
When they conspired against me,
they plotted to take my life. Psalm 31:9-13

Does this sound like the guy who just wrote, “You are my rock and my fortress”?!  He seems so assured in God’s protection earlier, and then he pours out his heart in agony. Does the Psalm end in despair? NO – because we have another emotional swing – from agony to faith:

But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 The course of my life is in your power;
rescue me from the power of my enemies
and from my persecutors.
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me by your faithful love. Psalm 31:14-16

and then, David assesses the faithfulness of God, sees his own flawed character and realizes where he has been. He praises God for His goodness and protection – He blesses God for His rescue, and then, again, notes how he had been alarmed and thought God had forgotten him, thought he was cut off from God’s sight:

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you.
In the presence of everyone you have acted
for those who take refuge in you.
20 You hide them in the protection of your presence;
you conceal them in a shelter
from human schemes,
from quarrelsome tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his faithful love to me
in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the sound of my pleading
when I cried to you for help. Psalm 31:19-22

And then, finally, we end in good place with a strong encouragement to be courageous and strong for those who trust in God:

Be strong, and let your heart be courageous,
all you who put your hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

What a wonderful and almost gut-wrenching roller coaster. David’s emotions aren’t stoic and stalwart and unmoved. His faith isn’t unshakable and steady as a level. Indeed, he can cry out to God just like the disciples cried out to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” And then He looks and sees and remembers that God does indeed, care. Friends, I can identify with this so much. I am not an overly emotional person, but nor am I some sort of rock-steady automaton that goes through life never shaken by what happens. What we see in Scripture are faithful men and women who are moved to tears and tumult by the trials and tribulations of life, and yet they triumphantly trust God in the end, while trembling. I do not believe it is maturity to be completely unmoved by trials and tribulations – I believe David’s emotions and struggles here represent great maturity and godliness. As evidence for this, I will simply submit that Jesus Himself chose to quote this Psalm with His last breath:

46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.[ Saying this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:36

Let’s read the whole Psalm, and wonder at how deeply Jesus must have identified with it, given that He quoted it with his last words before dying on the cross.

Bible Memory verses for the month of August: Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 

The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A church in North Salinas, California.

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