Most people do not like to think about death—even when it might be imminent. The human drive for survival remains so strong that, even in the most desperate of circumstances, the mind concentrates on how to survive rather than on the alternative. However, Psalm 31 provides insight into how faith can look beyond survival to see something more. David faced the jeopardy of warfare throughout his life. From his encounter with Goliath to his victory over the Philistines, from his narrow escapes from Saul to his survival in a civil war, from wars outside to intrigue within, danger almost defined David’s life. But it did not for a simple reason: faith did. In the midst of all of these life-threatening situations, David turned to the Lord and trusted in Him. “In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness” (Psa. 31:1).
When you consider these words and metaphors in the very real context of warfare, they become even more powerful: “Be my rock of refuge, A fortress of defense to save me” (Psa. 31:2b). Glorifying God and follow His will should be the context of our lives and therefore give purpose to living (Psa. 31:3-4). However, in the next phrase David offers the perspective so meaningful that our Lord quoted it, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit” (Psa. 31:5). David saw himself as a spirit whose preservation depended entirely on God. Thus, while this is true in the preservation of life, it is even more true in the preservation of the spirit beyond life. However, the words that follow demonstrate that committing the spirit to God is part of living—not just a cry for the end of life. David’s description of his faith and faithfulness through adversity (Psa. 31:6-8), his dependence on God’s mercy through all his trials of soul and body (Psa. 31:9-1-), and his steadfastness even amidst social rejection (Psa. 31:11-14) are presented as evidence of the truth of this commitment. This, however, was not a matter of pride, for anyone should be ashamed who would not do this (Psa. 31:15-18). David’s faith was well founded, for God did deliver him, and David honored Him accordingly (Psa. 31:19-23). However, this is what makes Jesus’ quotation so significant. Jesus had lived this way throughout life, but His commitment even at the point of death poignantly demonstrates the full force of the statement. David committed his spirit into the LORD’s hands to deliver him from having to die. Jesus committed His spirit to the LORD’s hands to deliver Him even though He had to die (Luke 23:46).
We should approach each and every day with this same kind of commitment—a dedication to the Lord defined by an unswerving faith, even in the harshest of circumstances. Indeed, we have no control over the circumstances we might face in life, but we have complete control over the strength of faith we develop in order to face them. That decision made the difference for David, it made the difference for Jesus, and it can make the difference for you. “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD” (Psa. 31:24).