Sermon Outline On Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
Tim Hansel in his book, Holy Sweat, shares this story about he and his son: One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and then yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.
When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”
He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy.(1)
The father was trustworthy. Our heavenly Father is trustworthy. God can be trusted. That is the message we hear repeated time and again in Psalm 31. The most prominent feature of this Psalm is the frequent alternation between petition and trust.(2)
The entire Psalm is summarized by the first verse. “In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.” The psalmist states his dependence on God. The psalmist affirms that his very integrity depends on God.
“Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.” This psalm is about living our lives trusting in God. Even in King David’s time, people were in a hurry for God to “bail them out.” The Psalmist says, “rescue me speedily.” I trust you God, but could you please move a little faster. We in this microwave age know that feeling.
The reader is never sure what the need for rescue is. The distress is described in a general way. There may be as many a three different causes of distress listed in this Psalm. The cause of the distress is not the point. The source of refuge, the trustworthiness of God is the emphasis.
“You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,” Not only is God to be trusted, but God is declared the leader, the one to guide us. The Psalm is taking trust to the point of totally depending upon God. The petition is for direction and guidance. How often do we trust our own judgement rather than God’s guidance? How often do we consider God as the last resort rather than the first resource? How often do we know how to tough it out?
The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message” “Alter your course 10 degrees south.”
Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.”
The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am the captain!”
Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am seaman third class Jones.”
Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: “Alter your course 10 degrees south–I am a battleship.”
Then the reply came “Alter your course 10 degrees north–I am a lighthouse.”(3)
In the midst of our dark and foggy times, we think we have a clear picture of the situation. We think we have no need for guidance, when in fact we desperately need the guidance of One we can trust. The Lighthouse of our lives is the One the psalmist describes as our refuge and fortress.
“take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.” What are the “nets hidden for you?” What are the snares that entangle our lives? What are the traps that capture our spirits? What are the hooks that catch us off guard?
The death of a loved one brings us to our knees. The loss of a job creates great stress. The loss of property causes us to worry. A crippling illness tempts us to surrender. Unfulfilled expectations make us sad. Comparing ourselves to others produces frustration. Misguided priorities tempt us in our choices. There are so many nets that pop up to snag us!
BUT the psalmist says, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” I give thanks that in your faithfulness you rescue me from the pitfalls of life. Help us, O Lord, to trust you enough to place our spirits in your hands. You have redeemed us before, and we know that you will redeem us again. We have experienced your grace, your unmerited, unearned love, and we know you will rescue us. If Jesus can trust you from the cross, we can trust you with our lives.
BUT why should we place our trust in God? Why is trusting God more that a ten cent bet on God’s integrity? The psalmist says we can trust God because we have been there before. We can trust God because of the very characteristics of God. In verse 5, we are told that God is faithful. It is God’s character to be faithful.
Why can we place our complete trust in God? Because of God’s faithfulness. Because of God’s steadfast love for us!
A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lit a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.(4)
1. Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.
2. New Interpreter’s Bible, Psalms, Vol. 4, 800.
3. Paul Aiello, Jr., SermonIllustrations.com
4. Source Unknown.