It is one thing to say that we trust in the Lord when things are going well; it is another thing entirely to actually trust in the Lord when all is dark around us. In this lengthy section of Psalm 31, David does both.
Please read Psalm 31:6-18.
David began this psalm by calling God his rock. In verse 6, he then compares the rock that is the Lord to every other ‘god.’ Compared to the Rock, everything else is a “worthless idol.” Those who trust in such worthless idols are the enemies of God. Therefore, David hates them. How dare they degrade the Lord by giving worship which is properly due His name to a worthless idol!?
No matter how many people around him bow down to such worthlessness, David proclaims, “but I trust in the Lord.”
Apparently, David is going through a very difficult time. He is confident that the Lord sees his affliction and knows the distress that David is in, but he is still in the midst of sorrow. God hasn’t surrendered David over to his enemies, but He hasn’t delivered him from them yet either. Still, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love.”
Even in the midst of sorrow, it is enough to know that you are not alone. David does indeed ask for God to “be gracious to me,” and he goes on to express the depth of his sorrow. But he never blames God for His suffering. Instead, David attributes his current trial to his own sin (“my strength fails because of my iniquity”). He knows that he is a sinner who deserves to be punished, and that is the reason that he is going through this trial.
It is believed that David wrote this psalm after Absalom rebelled and David was forced to flee from his royal palace. David knows that his son’s rebellion is partly due to his own moral failures. When Nathan confronted David after his sin with Bathsheba, God said “behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall like with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel before the sun” (2 Sam. 12:11-12). Years later, God fulfilled this punishment through Absalom's rebellion.
Still, David didn’t expect to have to endure the suffering that he is now experiencing. As he writes Psalm 31, he is being mocked by his enemies, his neighbors, and even his friends. He is left with nothing, not even his good name. He is even in fear for his own life. He has been brought as low as possible, and has nowhere to turn.
Still, he says “I trust in you, O Lord… You are my God.” Everyone else can trust in worthless idols, and they may see temporary relief in this world, but David’s trust is in God Almighty. The Lord has shown David His steadfast love in the past, and He can be trusted to show it again. The Lord will deliver. The wicked might have their laughs now, but their lying lips will one day be silenced, and the righteous will be lifted up.
Like David, we know that we have committed rebellion against God. We have sinned, and we deserve to be punished. When you go through a trial, it may be the consequences of your sin, like it was for David. This isn’t always the case, but even if it is the reason for your suffering, it doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you.
God is still on His throne, and He is still just as loving as He was when He sent His Son to die for your sins on the cross. The Father still loves His child, even when He has to discipline him. You may not like the trial, but trust in the Lord. He will not abandon you to your punishment. Eventually, He will deliver you.