Psalm 31, 18 May 14

Some translations use 'castle' instead of 'refuge'.
Some translations use ‘castle’ instead of ‘refuge’; the ‘tower’ like this one is often a related image

We are familiar with Psalm 31 from Palm Sunday, although this time we read the first 5 verses and a little more in mid-psalm.

This is a rich psalm, if that’s not too trite a thing to say about the deep artistry and imagery of all of these songs.

It combines feelings of confidence and security together with a sense of danger, sorrow and dismay in which the divine refuge and blessing are earnestly sought and highly valued:

  • I have taken refuge (v.1)
  • incline your ear to me (v.2)
  • be my strong rock (v.3)

… and then this:

Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me (v.4)

What net, we wonder? Intrigue, hatred and jealousy amongst competitors or unbelievers, or just common old greed and selfishness? David, who endured all this cunning, recognises the need for some assistance from the ‘tower of strength’ and the ‘God of truth’ (vv.4, 5)

Then in verse 5 we find words that the dying Jesus quoted (so it’s sometimes used on Good Friday):

Into your hands I commend my spirit


Here’s an extract from the previous post on this same tune (from PFAS) that we sang on Palm Sunday:

… there are many intertwined ideas in this song. The response is strong, picking up a rather mysterious but powerful promise in verse 15: ‘My times are in your hands.’ That’s only one of four good snapshot statements of belief in this antiphon.

The earlier post revolved around that quoted theme. This week let us note the other ‘snapshot’ phrases of the refrain:your word

My times are in your hands. You strengthen me in strife. My hope is in your word. Your love preserves my life.

A nicely harmonised response follows an easy, descending path of natural phrases. Easily learned, nice to sing. We use the same refrain during prayers.

Verses will be sung to a similar chord progression.

The main tune is quite a high setting but there is a second lower part acting as an echo voice which would be very warming. If you can help by meeting early to learn and sing this supporting tune, please do.

4 thoughts on “Psalm 31, 18 May 14

  1. Thanks for this rich reflection on the Psalm for tomorrow! As you’ve mentioned before, in Easter (when we read from Acts instead of the Hebrew Scriptures) the Psalm is set as a response to the Acts reading. Tomorrow’s story from Acts is the stoning of Stephen. Acts is attributed to the writer of Luke and it’s in Luke’s account of the crucifixion that Jesus quotes Psalm 31: 5 “Into your hand I commit my spirit”. The dying Stephen says “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” and also cries out: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” reminding us of “Father, forgive them…”

  2. Our good wishes to some of our regular psalm singers who are away this week with The Resonants singing in the Canberra International Music Festival. They present the Brahms Requiem (twice!) in the finale on Sunday, a full day indeed. Sing well.

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