I was intentional to read these Holy Week scriptures through the lens of my identity: an African American who seeks to know where Scripture speaks to injustice. Psalm 31 is an appropriate ending for this week.
This psalm moves from protection to praise to prayer to pain. David places himself in the loving hands of the Lord who has rescued him from his enemies. David praises the Lord for delivering him from sins and enemies. In pain, he prays, Be gracious to me, O LORD (v. 9).
We also see this pattern of prayer and pain in Jesus’ journey to the cross. He prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus quotes Psalm 31 as he seeks protection, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit (Lk 23:46, NIV; Ps 31:5). Then he takes his last breath on the cross.
In this psalm that holds the words that Jesus reaches for in his last hours, we find a lifeline for our spirits too. When we know suffering, when we feel abandoned and isolated, the psalmist helps us voice our prayers. When we feel hopeless, when grief overwhelms us, the psalmist leads us to honestly share our hurt-filled hearts with God.
Today’s reading ends at verse 13. But the Good News demands we also read verse 14: “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’” Whatever distress we face, the psalmist shows us how to draw on our relationship with God.
We live in a world of tension and terror. But we put our trust in God, who is bigger than our suffering, and remember that Sunday is coming.
What kind of movement do you experience in your prayers?
God, in times of pain, help me remember your hope. Amen.