THE BLESSED LIFE
T. PIERCE BROWN
Although David was a man of many troubles, he was a man of great faith, and a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 31 we catch a glimpse of the life of faith that should characterize every child of God and give him a life that is blessed. We can emulate those things in David’s life that are worthy and shun those that are not.
First, in verse one there is an expression of confident faith. “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” When Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths,” he was not just giving a good scripture for preachers to quote. He was expressing a fundamental principle prerequisite for a blessed life. It involves confidence in all that the Lord has said, not only for us to do, but what He will do. We not only have power to becomes sons of God through faith in Him (John1:11-12), but we have power to become blessed, happy, useful and productive sons of God. Both the basis and results of this confidence are found in verses 2 & 3. The psalmist says, “Be thou my strong rock, for a house of defense to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress.” That expression may appear strange until you think through its implications. How can he say, “Be thou my rock, for thou art my rock?” A rock and a fortress suggest stability, unchanging nature, and a place of defense against enemies and protection against all elements. Why should one ask God to be what He already is? That awareness can be of much comfort and value to use. We need God to be to us personally what He is of Himself. That is, He is King of King and Lord of Lords. Is He your King and Lord? Are you in His kingdom, submitting to His authority in all things? Or are you one who thinks you do not need authority for what you do as long as you can say, “He did not say not to.” He is the Savior of the world! Is He your Savior? He will not be your Savior unless you accept Him as Lord. It is significant that Peter in his wonderful sermon in Acts 2 first presented the fact that “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts2:36) before he told them how to accept Him as Savior (Acts2:38). When we sing, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” we need to realize that He did not die just for the world, but for me. So, like David, we can ask him to be to us what he is in reality.
In verse 5 he says, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit.” These words Jesus used at His death, but they were His attitude throughout life. We need to realize that as we live, so shall we die. If we live in the atmosphere of the Word, loving, living, breathing, obeying the Word, we shall die that way. If we commit our spirits to God day by day, we will have no trouble committing them on that final day. It may be significant that none of the gospel records describe Jesus as dying, but as “giving up the ghost.” He was the one who deliberately committed His spirit to God. We can do this day by day, and it should be “total commitment” insofar as we can make it so.
This blessed life was not only a life of confidence and commitment, but also a life of joy and gladness. Verses 7 & 8 say, “I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversity; and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.” We need to be aware of these four things which David discovered. 1. That all of God’s people have a day of adversity in some areas. “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into divers testings” (James 1:2). 2. Whatever these may be, there is One who knows what they are, how long we can bear them, and how to make them work for our good. 3. His consideration of our troubles should give us occasion to rejoice in His mercy and praise Him. Failure to do this not only demonstrates ingratitude and hardness of heart, it increases it. It causes us to fail to reach others for two reasons. First, we simply do not try, for we do not feel grateful and happy with what we have. Second, they see our ingratitude and lack of joy, and are not pulled toward Christ by what they see. 4. David said, “Thou hast set my feet in a very large room.” There are those who think of following Jesus primarily in terms of what we give up and of what restrictions are placed upon us. No doubt the Prodigal Son felt that way before he left home. We get far more than we give up, and Jesus said, “If the Son of Man makes you free, then are ye free indeed” (John 8:36). Freedom in Christ is one of the most wonderful things we have. It is not freedom from authority, but freedom under authority. We are free to accept and teach any and all truth, not bound by any creed or manual, written or unwritten. All emotions that are proper to express, we have the right to express. Any activity that is good to do, we have freedom to do under God’s direction.
There are those who seem to think we oppose the use of instrumental music in worship because we think instrumental music is obnoxious to God. This is not so. I do not oppose peanut better on the Lord’s table because I think God does not like peanut butter, but simply because it is unauthorized. I have a right to play an instrument of music or eat peanut butter or do anything else that is good or right to do. But I have no right to substitute it for what God ordained. Surely anyone who wants to can see that I have the right to sprinkle water on my head, if I think it would help to keep either of my hairs in place, or do me good in any other way. I have no right to substitute it for baptism. Remember that “He hath set my feet in a very large room,” and although I can go anywhere I choose in the room, I need to stay in the room until He authorizes me to be elsewhere. Many who are connected with the church today are teaching a kind of freedom in Christ that would amount to license to practice whatever one chooses.
The blessed life portrayed by the psalmist involves confession. Verses 9-12 starts with, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble” and ends with “I am like a broken vessel.” There are two kinds of confessions each of us needs to make, and at least one that every man will make. First, we need to confess the truth about Jesus. If we confess it joyfully as the Ethiopian did to Philip in Acts8:37, then He will confess us before the Father. Whether we confess in joyous obedience in this life, or in sorrow and shame at the judgement day, we shall all confess. As Paul says in Romans 14:11, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.”
Second, the confession in Psalm 31 is more like the confession James speaks of when he say, “Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). This is not just a confession that one might make to a “senior prayer partner” (whatever that might be), but is of value between all Christian brothers and sisters. There are two great values of such a confession. 1. It is much easier to help a person who confesses that he needs help. If I present myself to you as one who has no faults, I will not only have a hard time overcoming them; it will be impossible to enlist your aid in so doing. 2. It gives us a great release from fear and bondage because of trying to hide them. If I am afraid to let you know I have a fault, not only am I under tension for fear you will find out, I am subject to “blackmail” of various sorts, for if you do find out, you may hold over my head the threat of revealing it to others. If I have already revealed it to others, I am no longer in bondage to those things.
Then the blessed life is one of petition (vs. 15-16), adoration (v. 19) and praise (v. 21). When we realize as the psalmist that “my times are in thine hand” it will create within us a sense of the nearness of God, and give us an assurance of the concern of God, give us strength to endure temptation, help us to overcome fears and worries, encourage us to more consecrated and devoted service, gladden us with hope for the future, and allow us to make the petition with assurance and faith.
When a man lives this blessed life, the natural consequence is that he will give others the exhortation of verses 23 & 24, “O love the Lord, all ye His saints–be of good courage.” The heart that is full of adoration and praise for the goodness of God will eagerly long for others to love, trust, serve and obey God. Then he “cannot but speak the things he has seen and heard” (Acts4:20. Are you living the blessed life?