These verses from Psalm 31 exemplify the classic structure of a lament psalm. First we hear the distress and cry for help (Psalm 31:9) and the depth of the psalmist's extensive sorrow and misery with strength failing and bones wasting away (Psalm 31:10). Evidence of the psalmist's plight is seen by adversaries, neighbors, acquaintances and even those on the street (Psalm 31:11). The psalmist is like a broken vessel and the object of whispering, scheming and even plotting "to take my life" (Psalm 31:12-13).
From whom is there hope? At the depth of the psalmist's lament comes the word of trust "in you, O Lord." The confession, "You are my God," brings the assurance and hope we need in this life, as the psalmist acknowledges, "My times are in your hand" (Psalm 31:14-15). In this faith, the psalmist's words conclude with a benediction for us, who are also called to be servants of the Lord: "Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love" (Psalm 31:16).
The contention with my adversaries continues every day, and you, O Lord, hear my cries and you deliver me. With the psalmist, I too confess, “You are my God,” and in these words I receive your vindication and assurance in my life. Amen.
Psalm 31:9-16 (NRSV)
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many-- terror all around!-- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God."
15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.