Psalm 31:01-10 – Saved!

Translation & Sermon By Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 7 Jan 2018


Then the Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king's hand." And Saul said, "Blessed are you of the LORD, for you have compassion on me. Please go and find out for sure, and see the place where his hideout is, and who has seen him there. For I am told he is very crafty. See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides; and come back to me with certainty, and I will go with you. And it shall be, if he is in the land, that I will search for him throughout all the clans of Judah." So they arose and went to Ziph before Saul. But David and his men were in the Wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon. Then Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them. But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!" Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape. Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi. (1 Samuel 23:19-29, NKJV)


§         The Jewish Soncino commentary on the Psalms suggests that this was the occasion of which David wrote Psalm 31, and indeed the historical account of 1 Samuel 23 has a number of key words in common with Psalm 31, like “stronghold,” “deliver,” “take knowledge,” “rock,” “pursue,” “make haste,” “get away,” “enclose,” and “escape.”

§         But, as Dr. Cohen went on to note in that commentary, “These were written for the benefit of anyone who might find himself surrounded by enemies and deems it necessary to reaffirm his belief that God can extricate him from any predicament.” Are you in any predicaments right now? or recently delivered from any predicaments? Listen closely to what this psalm has to say.

§         Psalm 31 begins “It is in You, Yahweh, that I have taken refuge; I will not ever be ashamed. Deliver me in Your righteousness!” Right away, the central figure in providing refuge and salvation is introduced, namely Yahweh – the LORD in all caps.

§         What does David’s request mean when he asks God to deliver him “in Your righteousness”?

Four meanings to “IN” describe our salvation (v. 1)

  1. “In” = “during” “Deliver me while you remain righteous.” Certainly God will remain righteous throughout His rescue operation.
    1. The Hebrew word for “righteous” is tsadiq. Dr. Harold Stigers, in his entry on tsadiq in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament noted: “This root basically connotes conformity to an ethical or moral standard… and of course, in the OT, that standard is the nature and will of God. ‘The lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works’ (Ps. 145:17).”
    2. Throughout God’s dealings with humans tainted by sin, He does not stoop to unrighteousness Himself, nor does he overlook any infraction of His commandments in His work as a judge, no charge of corruption will ever stick to Him, He remains perfectly righteous.
  2. “In” = “as a result of” or “as characterized by” “Deliver me in order to maintain your reputation of being righteous.”
    1.  It will be righteous for God to deliver David because of the covenantal responsibilities God had taken on with David to preserve him and establish his royal dynasty forever.
    2. As David says in v.5, God is the God of emet – this Hebrew word is sometimes translated “truth” and sometimes translated “faithfulness” because it carries both of those meanings. I’m focusing more on the faithfulness side as I look at this facet of being saved by God’s righteousness. God will be faithful to His covenant and will indeed save those He promises salvation to.
    3. v.3 “for your name’s sake [lema’an shimka] You will guide & lead me” plays into this.

                                                              i.      This may be an allusion to the praise song the Israelites made up after God brought them across the Red Sea on dry ground and drowned the pursuing Egyptian army some 700 years before David. They sang, “You in Your mercy have led forth (נחה) The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided (נהל) them in Your strength To Your holy habitation.” (Exodus 15:13, NKJV)

                                                            ii.      It’s what David has already recognized in Psalm 23:1-3, “Yahweh being my shepherd, I will not be lacking. He will cause me to bed down in pastures of sprouting-grass. He will guide (נהל) me to water along pooled waters. It is my soul that He will refresh! He will guide (נחה) me in tracks of righteousness for the sake of His reputation.” (NAW)

                                                          iii.      And Isaiah picked up the same theme in his book 300 years later: “Like a shepherd He will shepherd His flock: With His arm He will gather lambs, And in His bosom carry; Those who are nursing He will lead gently (נהל).” (Isa. 40:11, NAW)

  1. But I think there is a still deeper meaning. “In” can also be translated “by means of.” “Save me by means of your righteousness.”
    1. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament also comments on this meaning: “[T]his righteousness, actually possessed by Messiah is bestowed by him, thus point­ing toward the NT doctrine of Christ our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6 “Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of right­eousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (NKJV)
    2. The righteous Lord substituting His righteousness for our unrighteousness is also expounded on in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NKJV)
    3. David – the same as any of us – could not be saved by doing good things. He needed God’s righteousness interposed to replace all of his unrighteousness. Only by means of Jesus transferring His righteousness to our account (so that we “become the righteousness of God in Him”) can we be safe spiritually and eternally.
  2. A fourth way of looking at this preposition is in relation to David. David understood that moral righteousness was something which God could transfer to him such that David would be in a state of righteousness once he was saved. “Save me into your righteousness” (cf. Psalm 51:7b “wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”)


REVIEW: God saves us “while” remaining righteous Himself, He saves us “in order to” maintain His integrity as a savior, He saves us “by” substituting His own righteousness for our unrighteousness, and He saves us “into” a state of righteousness.

Seven words describing salvation in vs.1-10:

David’s expectation of salvation is based upon God’s character

Notice the six descriptions of God’s character which David lists, verse by verse from 3-7:

v.3 “For You are my sala’ ” – mountain-sized rock – there was one such sala' in the Judean dessert that Judges 20:47 describes that was large enough to hide 600 men from the tribe of Benjamin. It’s also where David and his 600 outlaws hid out from King Saul (1 Sam 23:25), so when you think of this kind of rock, think of something gigantic!

v.3 “and You are my metsudah” – my fortress with secure places in it

v.4 “for You are my ma’uz” – strength/might

v.5 “Yahweh is אֵל אֱמֶת” – the God of truth” (as the King James aptly put it) and also the “the faithful God” (as the ESV put it).

v.6 “You hate those who regard/cling to/literally ‘keep’ vain, worthless idols.”

v.7 “Your chesed” – mercy/lovingkindness/steadfast love

Conclusion: 4 Action Points

1.      Trust in God instead of anything else (v.6) and commit your spirit to the true God (v.5). This results in confidence that God will deliver/rescue/get out of trouble/redeem/save you and thus that you will never be ashamed.

2.      Knowing God’s character - as a rock-mountain, a secure fortress, strong and mighty, faithful and true, loving those in His covenant, yet hating idolatry - will give you that confidence. Study His character so that you can have confidence!

3.      “Rejoice and be happy there in [God’s] lovingkindness, in which [He] regarded [your] low condition and considered [your] soul during crises” (v.7)!

4.      Share your testimony of times when God did not deliver you over to the hand of an enemy but instead caused you to stand where there is room for freedom!

Comparison of editions and versions of Psalm 31[A]

Vaticanus (30)

Brenton (LXX)




1 Εἰς τὸ τέλος[B] ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυιδ·[ἐκστάσ­εως]. 2 Ἐπὶ σοί, κύριε, ἤλπισα, μὴ καταισχυνθείην εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· ἐν τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ σου ῥῦσαί[C] με [καὶ ἐξελοῦ με].

1 For the end, a Psalm of David, [an utterance of extreme fear[D]]. O Lord, I have hoped in thee; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness [and rescue me].

1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

1 For the concert­master, a psalm by David. It is in You, Yahweh, that I have taken refuge; I will not ever be ashamed. Deliver me in Your righteousness!

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד. ב בְּךָ יְהוָה חָסִיתִי אַל אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי.

3 κλῖνον πρός με τὸ οὖς σου, τάχ­υνον τοῦ ἐξελέσ­θαι με· γενοῦ μοι εἰς θεὸν ὑπερασ­πιςτὴν[E] [καὶ] εἰς οἶκον καταφυγῆς τοῦ σῶσαί με.

2 Incline thine ear to me; make haste to rescue me: be thou to me for a protecting God, [and] for a house of refugeX to save me.

2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defenceX to save me.

2 Incline Your ear toward me; rescue me quickly! Become for me a mighty rock - a house with secure places - in order to cause me to be saved

ג הַטֵּה אֵלַי אָזְנְךָ מְהֵרָה הַצִּילֵנִי הֱיֵה לִי לְצוּר מָעוֹז לְבֵית מְצוּדוֹת לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי.

4 ὅτι κραταίωμά[F] μου καὶ καταφυγή μου εἶ σὺ καὶ ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός σου ὁδηγήσεις με καὶ διαθρέψεις[G] με·

3 For thou art my strength and my refuge; and thou shalt guide me for thy name's sake, and maintain me.

3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

3 (for You are my rock-moun­tain and my secure place), so, for the sake of Your reputation, guide me, and lead me.

ד כִּי סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה וּלְמַעַן שִׁמְךָ תַּנְחֵנִי[H] וּתְנַהֲלֵנִי.

5 ἐξάξεις με ἐκ παγίδος ταύτης, ἧς ἔκρυψάν μοι, ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὑπερ­αςπιστής μου [kurie[I]].

4 Thou shalt bring me out of the snare which they have hidden for me; for thou, [O Lord], art my defender.

4 [Pull] me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

4. You will get me out of the net which they hid to [capture] me because You are my strength.

ה תּוֹצִיאֵנִי מֵרֶשֶׁת זוּ טָמְנוּ לִי כִּי אַתָּה מָעוּזִּי.

6 εἰς χεῖράς σου παραθήσομαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐλυτρώ­σω με, κύριε θεὸς τῆς ἀληθείας.

5 Into thine hands[J] I will commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

5 It is into Your hand that I will commit my spirit. You, Yahweh the true God, redeem me.

ו בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי פָּדִיתָה[K] אוֹתִי יְהוָה אֵל אֱמֶת.

7 ἐμίσησας τοὺς διαφυλάσσοντας ματαιότητας διὰ κενῆς· ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ ἤλπισα.

6 Thou has hated them that idly persist in vanities: but I have hoped in the Lord.

6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

6. You hate those who keep vain idols, but as for me, it is in Yahweh that I have trusted.

ז שָׂנֵאתִי[L] הַשֹּׁמְרִים הַבְלֵי שָׁוְא וַאֲנִי אֶל יְהוָה בָּטָחְתִּי.

8 ἀγαλλιάσομαι καὶ εὐφρανθή­σομαι ἐπὶ τῷ ἐλέει σου, ὅτι ἐπ­εῖδες τὴν ταπείν­ωσίν[M] μου, ἔσωσας[N] ἐκ τῶν ἀναγκῶν τὴν ψυχήν μου

7 I will exult and be glad in thy mercy: for thou hast looked upon mine affliction; thou hast saved my soul from distresses.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

7 I will rejoice and be happy there in Your loving­kind­ness, in which You re­gard­ed my low condition[O] and you considered my soul during crises,

ח אָגִילָה וְאֶשְׂמְחָה בְּחַסְדֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתָ אֶת עָנְיִי יָדַעְתָּ בְּצָרוֹת נַפְשִׁי[P].

9 καὶ οὐ συν­έκλει­σάς με εἰς χεῖρας ἐχθροῦ, ἔστησας ἐν X εὐ­ρυ­χώ­ρῳ τοὺς πόδας μου.

8 And thou hast not shut me up into the hands of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a wide place.

8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

8. and You did not let me get en­closed in the hand of an enemy. You caused my foot to stand where there is room!

ט וְלֹא הִסְגַּרְתַּנִי בְּיַד אוֹיֵב הֶעֱמַדְתָּ בַמֶּרְחָב רַגְלָי.

10 ἐλέησόν με, κύριε, ὅτι θλίβ­ομαι· ἐταράχθη ἐν θυμῷ[Q] ὀφθαλμός μου, ψυχή μου καὶ γαστήρ μου.

9 Pity me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: my eye is troubled with indignation, my soul and my belly.

9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

9 Yahweh, be gra­cious to me, be­cause it is criti­cal for me; my eye, soul, and body have decayed with grief.

י חָנֵּנִי יְהוָה כִּי צַר לִי עָשְׁשָׁה בְכַעַס עֵינִי[R] נַפְשִׁי וּבִטְנִי.

11 ὅτι ἐξέλιπεν[S] ἐν ὀδύνῃ ζωή μου καὶ τὰ ἔτη μου ἐν στεναγμοῖς· ἠσθέν­ησεν ἐν πτωχείᾳ ἰσχύς μου, καὶ τὰ ὀστᾶ μου ἐταράχθησαν[T].

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with groanings: my strength has been weakened through poverty[U], and my bones are troubled.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

10 Because they have finished off my life in sorrow, and my years in sighing. My strength has stum­bled in my iniqui­ty, and my bones have decayed.

יא כִּי כָלוּ בְיָגוֹן חַיַּי וּשְׁנוֹתַי בַּאֲנָחָה כָּשַׁל בַּעֲו‍ֹנִי כֹחִי וַעֲצָמַי עָשֵׁשׁוּ.


[A] When a translation adds words not in the Hebrew text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Hebrew word or departs too far from the grammar form of the original Hebrew, I use strikeout. And when a version omits a word which is in the Hebrew text, I insert an X. (I also place an X at the end of a word if the original word is plural but the English translation is singular.) I occasionally use colors to help the reader see correlations between the various editions and versions when there are more than two different translations of a given word. Hebrew text that is colored purple matches the Dead Sea Scrolls, and variants between the DSS and the MT are noted in endnotes with the following exceptions: When a holem or qametz-hatuf or qibbutz pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a vav (or vice versa), or when a hireq pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a yod (the corresponding consonantal representation of the same vowel) – or vice versa, or when the tetragrammaton is spelled with paleo-Hebrew letters, I did not record it a variant. Dead Sea Scrolls which contain Psalm 31 are: 4Q83 (vs.22-23 Eng.), 4Q98 (vs. 23-24 Eng.), and Nahal Hever Psalms (Verses 1-21 Eng.).

[B] Aquila = nikopoiw, Symmachus=epinikion “to the one who achieves victory?”

[C] Aquila & Symmachus = diaswson (They also don’t have the extra phrase at the end that the LXX does.)

[D] This word comes from v.22, but it’s also there in the Vulgate. Eusebius said it wasn’t in the Hebrew.

[E] Vulgate also reads “God.” Symmachus corrected to akrotomon isxuran (“Highly-forceful strength”), Theodotian to fulaka krataiwma, and Origen’s 5th column blends in with the next phrase katoikhthrion iscuron.

[F] Aquilla & Symmachus corrected the LXX to petra, which fits with the MT. Theodotian, however, kept with the LXX reading. The meaning is not greatly different, for the figurative meaning of “rock” is “strength” and the figurative meaning is clearly intended.

[G] Cf. Aquilla diabastaxeiV (“carry through”), Symmachus thmelhseiV (“care for”)

[H] Hiphil Imperfect followed by a Piel Imperfect. I am construing these imperfects as dependent upon the imperative verb of being in the previous verse and bringing closure to the thought it opened, thus I am interpreting them as imperatives, as the KJV and NIV did. The NASB (and Cohen) translated them as independent verbs with their imperfect tense being translated as and English future tense, which is not unreasonable.

[I] Not in Vaticanus, Vulgate, or Symmachus (or the MT).

[J] The Hebrew “hand” is singular in the Masoretic text of Psalm 31:5, but Jesus’ quote in Luke 23:46 is plural “hands,” affirming the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic text here.

[K] The final he in the MT is missing in the Dead Sea Psalm scroll Nahal Hever. Davidson said it makes no difference in meaning, however. The Qal Perfect form could be past tense, as the LXX, KJV, and NASB rendered it, or it could be construed as dependent on the Imperfect verb in the first half of the verse and be translated in a future or continuing sense, but it’s hard to see how the NIV could have gotten an imperative out of it. In the past sense, it is the answer to the prayer of Psalm 26:11b “Redeem me and be gracious to me!”

[L] The Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Jerome’s direct translation of the Psalms from Hebrew into Latin all render this second person instead of the MT’s first person. This points to an earlier Hebrew text that read “You hate.”

[M] Cf synonymns: Vulgate=miseriam, Aquila=kakoucian, Symmachus=kakwsin (bad), E: ptwceian (poverty)

[N] All the other early Greek versions (Aquila, Theodotian, Symmachus, E) read “known” with the MT.

[O] Here’s the answer to the prayers in Psalm 9:13a “Yahweh, see my misery [caused by] those who hate me.” and Psalm 25:18 “Look at my low-condition and my trouble, and lift away all my sins.” (NAW)

[P] Cf Gen. 42:21 "We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us." (NKJV)

[Q] Aq.=hucmwqh en parorgismw (“prayed? in anger”), Sym.=Eqolwqh dia parorgismon (“? on account of anger”)

[R] Same as Psalm 6:7a

[S] Aq.=etelesqhsan (“ended”), Sym.=anhlwqh (“departed”)

[T] Aq.=hucmwqh (?), Sym.=eurwtiasan (“discovered” – as in, lost so much weight that you can see his ribs).

[U] LXX & Vulgate read בעו‍ני as though it were בעני. Symmachus corrected it to kakwsin “evil,” and Aquila and Theodotian to anomia (lawlessness).