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Psalm 31:19-22 meaning

David praises the LORD for His goodness in how He marvelously rescued him from his enemies and for the great reward which God blessed him with because he was faithful. This portion of Psalm 31 is prophetic of how God miraculously rescued Jesus from His enemies and greatly exalted Him for His obedience unto death. 

Psalm 31, composed by King David, is a personal declaration of absolute trust in the LORD and a petition for His help during a time of great discouragement and extreme danger. It is a prayer to God arranged into two sections of praise with a series of complaints set between them. Psalm 31 concludes with an encouragement to trust and hope in the LORD.

  • The First Praise—Psalm 31:1-8
  • The Complaint to the LORD—Psalm 31:9-13
  • The Final Praise—Psalm 31:14-22.
  • The Concluding Exhortation—Psalm 31:23-24

Psalm 31 is also prophetic of Jesus's suffering and glorious vindication as the Messiah. 

The Bible Says commentary for Psalm 31 looks at the psalm from two perspectives: one for how the psalm relates to David; the other which surveys the psalm's prophetic relationship to Jesus as the Messiah.

Psalm 31:19-22 as David's Praise

Psalm 31:19-22 completes the Final Praise of Psalm 31

After making six petitions to the LORD, David begins to offer a series of prophetic praises to God. 

His six petitions were:

  • "Deliver me from the hand of my enemies" (Psalm 31:15b)
  • "Make Your face shine upon Your servant" (Psalm 31:16a)
  • "Save me in Your lovingkindness" (Psalm 31:16b)
  • "Let me be not put to shame" (Psalm 31:17a)
  • "Let the wicked be put to shame" (Psalm 31:17b)
  • "Let the wicked be silent in Sheol [and their] lying lips mute" (Psalm 31:17c-18)

David's first praise in this section is:

How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men! (v 19)

This is a comparative exclamation. The psalmist marvels at how great God's goodness is toward those who fear and take refuge in Him. The psalmist provides nothing with which to compare the LORD's goodness, likely because it is so great that it is beyond comparison. 

Notice how in this context the LORD's goodness is reserved for those who fear Him and/or for those who take refuge in Him. While God is merciful to all and wishes that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), the goodness the psalmist is describing is not accessible for those who do not fear Him or who do not take refuge in Him. 

The Apostle Paul may have had Psalm 31:19 in mind when he wrote:

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28)

As in both Romans 8:28, Psalm 31:19, the good "that God causes all things to work together" is exclusively reserved for the same kind of people: "to those who love God" (Romans 8:28), i.e. those who fear the LORD (v 19). Psalm 31:19 may have contributed to how Paul knew this truth.

To fear someone is to care what they think of us, and what they will do based on what they think. An example is a policeman—we will likely be more aware of our behavior (such as the speed we are driving) when a policeman is watching, because we fear them. In the same way, those who fear God are those who place a priority upon what God thinks, and what God will do, over what humans think and/or do. Those who love God focus upon doing what God commands, in order to please Him. 

Also notice how David says that the LORD's goodness has been personally stored up by God and wrought by God for those who love Him. 

The expression stored up means saved for late use at the right time. Grain is harvested and stored up for consumption during a season when the land produces no food. Wine is pressed and stored up for an occasion such as a banquet, to make merry. In a similar fashion, the LORD is storing up His goodness for those who fear and take refuge in Him against the persecution of the world. It will be lavished upon them in His good time. 

In anticipation of the day when the LORD pours out His goodness upon those who fear Him, Paul quoted Isaiah 64:4 when the apostle reminded the Corinthians:

"just as it is written,
'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.'"
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

Those who love God follow His commands, and those who fear God follow His commands. The two go together. Paul tells us that the good things we do in life through faith in God will be rewarded at our judgment (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, because people who follow God have to believe that God will make it worthwhile (Hebrews 11:6). 

The expression You have wrought refers to the goodness God has created. To wrought means to work and make something. God worked for our good. We will explain more about how the LORD wrought His goodness for us when we discuss this verse as it was fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. 

One final note about verse 19. The psalmist marvels how the incomparable greatness of the LORD's goodness toward the faithful will be seen before the sons of men. This will be the ultimate vindication of the righteous. The wicked and their schemes, however convincing or powerful they may seem to be now, in that moment will be revealed for what they are—shameful and foolish. This will be witnessed by the sons of men.

In the next verse, David elaborates upon this prophetic praise:

You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues (v 20).

The secret place and shelter which David refers to are the places where a king or rich person keeps his valuables and/or hidden stores of food and resources. This verse describes how the LORD keeps the goodness and treasures He has stored up for those who trust Him. These treasures cannot be stolen or devalued. No conspiracies of man can steal what God keeps in His secret place, no tongues can utter slander or stir up strife to diminish what He has in His shelter

The psalmist says that these good things are hidden in the secret place of Your presence as a way of saying that the LORD Himself personally guards the rewards. The terms secret and secretly further suggest that the goodness which the LORD has stored up is personal for each person who is faithful, and that this reward is strictly between God and each individual. Only God sees the secrets of a person's heart (Psalm 44:21). He knows each heart even better than the person whose heart it is (1 John 3:20):

"I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds."
(Jeremiah 17:10)

David's musing: You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues are similar to what Jesus encouraged His followers to do. Jesus told His disciples to seek their reward from God rather than men. He exhorted them to "pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matthew 6:6) and to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth and rust destroy, and where thieves do not break in or steal" (Matthew 6:20).

In his first epistle, Peter describes an "inheritance" (1 Peter 1:4) that appears to be the same goodness David describes in Psalm 31:19-20.

  • The goodness David describes is stored up and the LORD keeps it in the secret place.
  • The inheritance Peter describes is "reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 3:4).
  • The goodness David describes is for those who fear the LORD.
  • The "inheritance" Peter describes is "for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith" (1 Peter 3:4).
  • The goodness David describes is kept safe from the conspiracies of man and the strife of tongues.
  • The "inheritance" Peter describes is "imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" (1 Peter 3:4-5).

These similarities suggest that David is describing the reward or "Prize of Eternal Life." Paul describes an inheritance that is the reward for those who fear the Lord by doing all they do to please Him (Colossians 3:23). 

To learn more about the Prize of Eternal Life, see The Bible Says article—"Eternal Life: Receiving the Gift vs Inheriting the Prize."

David continues: 

Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city (v 21).

The expression: Blessed be the LORD is a pure praise of God. 

The psalmist explains his outburst of praise is because the LORD has made His lovingkindness for David marvelous in a besieged city. In this context, the LORD's lovingkindness likely refers to the blessings, rewards, and vindication of David's faithfulness. This vindication and reward seems to be lavishly displayed in front of everyone. And everyone is astonished by how wonderful and surprising the LORD's display of blessing and vindication is of His servant who fears Him

It appears that the moment that the LORD lavished His lovingkindness and vindicated David was at the moment in which David appeared to be defeated—as though he were in a besieged city. The LORD's deliverance of David was marvelous and stunning to all who witnessed it. No one seems to have seen this coming—and no one can deny how marvelous the LORD's lovingkindness toward David is. 

The situation was so dire, that it seems even David was tempted to doubt His marvelous deliverance.

As for me, I said in my alarm,
"I am cut off from before Your eyes" (v 22a).

The psalmist confesses, that when he was in such danger, that he told himself: "I am cut off from before God's eyes." His confessions reveal that he was on the verge of giving up hope that the LORD's eyes would see His situation and respond in time to save him before it was too late. 

Perhaps the reason David felt that he was cut off from before the LORD's eyes was because he worried that God had turned His back on him. If so, what David said in his alarm was similar to the question he asked God in Psalm 22.

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"
(Psalm 22:1)

But even though David may have felt like God had turned his back on him and averted His eyes from the perilous and unjust troubles of his servant, God did see and rescue him.

Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You (v 22b).

Despite any doubts David may have had, the LORD heard the voice of David's supplications and prayers for help. David praises God because He heard David when he cried out to Him. And the LORD's response was a spectacular and marvelous rescue of the psalmist.

Psalm 31:19-22 as Messianic Prophecy

Psalm 31:19-22 is prophetic of Jesus the Messiah.

The Bible Says commentary for this section of scripture will continue numbering the multifaceted ways Psalm 31 is prophetic of Jesus, the Messiah. The listing of this psalm's Messianic prophecies begins our commentary for Psalm 31:1-5. This section of scripture begins with the 26th Messianic prophecy of Psalm 31.

26.   The Messiah will be greatly rewarded by the LORD for His faithfulness.

How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men! (v 19).

Jesus the Messiah, will be greatly rewarded by the LORD for His faithfulness.

Jesus obeyed His Father and submitted His wishes to the LORD's plan—even unto death on a cross (Luke 22:42, Philippians 2:8, Revelation 3:21). He was one of those who feared the LORD and took refuge in Him and He did so as a man before the sons of men.

Because of His incredible faithfulness, the LORD has greatly honored Jesus (Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 12:2) and He will continue to greatly honor Jesus (Isaiah 53:12, Philippians 2:9-11). 

God's goodness and His reward for Jesus is great

  • All authority in Heaven and Earth has been granted to Him. (Matthew 28:18)
  • He is seated at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19, Acts 2:33, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22)
  • He will have a name above every name. (Philippians 2:9)
  • He is the Firstborn (ruler over) the Dead and the New Creation. (Colossians 1:15, 18)
  • He is the Head of the church. (Colossians 1:18)
  • He alone is worthy to open the heavenly seal that will lead to events that bring this era to a close, in which Jesus will reign over all and install His people to reign with Him. (Revelation 5:9-13)

Isaiah's fourth Servant Song begins and ends with a similar prophecy to Psalm 31:19 regarding the Messiah's great reward:

"Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted."
(Isaiah 52:13)

"Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great."
(Isaiah 53:12)

We can have a similar type of great reward as Jesus, the Messiah, if we share His faith and, like Him, are among those who fear the LORD and who take refuge in Him (Revelation 3:21).

27.   The Messiah's reward will be undeniable and incorruptible.

You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues (v 20).

Jesus's great reward is and will be undeniable and incorruptible. It is protected by the LORD Himself, and no conspiracies of man or strife can tarnish or diminish His glory in the least.

Christ's suffering and exaltation was all "in accordance with the eternal purpose which He [the LORD] carried out in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 3:11). This plan included that:

  • Jesus was slain from the foundation. (Revelation 13:8)
  • God would raise Him from the dead by the blood of the eternal covenant. (Hebrew 13:20)
  • The LORD promised the Messiah that He would sit at His right hand in eternal glory. (Psalm 110:1)
  • He was predestined to be the means of our adoption into His family and administration. (Ephesians 1:5, 11)

Now that Jesus has come, the goodness of God's secret plan has begun to be revealed to us (1 Corinthians 2:7-10, 1 Peter 1:20).

In light of God's eternal promise and the Son of God's perfect faithfulness, nothing can thwart or alter God's eternal and secret plan to exalt Jesus. His eternal glory is secure. 

Incredibly, if we follow His example of trusting our heavenly Father and suffer with Him, we too are promised to receive an imperishable reward beyond compare (Matthew 6:20, Romans 8:17-18, 1 Peter 1:6-7). 

This reward will be a crown of life (James 1:12) and it will come with God-granted shared authority to serve with the Master in shepherding and stewarding the new heaven and the new earth (Matthew 19:28-29, Ephesians 1:10, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 3:21, 5:10).


28.   The Messiah will praise the LORD.

Blessed be the LORD (v 21a).

Jesus, the Messiah, blessed the LORD in both word and deed. 

As the time approached for Jesus to fulfill His mission to sacrifice His life for the life of the world, He reflected on the terrible anguish He would suffer:

"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'?"
(John 12:27a)

After asking this question, Jesus then set His sights on His purpose and its glorious outcome—and blessed the LORD

"But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name."
(John 12:27b-28a)

This is one instance where Jesus the Messiah fulfilled this prophetic line of Psalm 31 during His earthly life.

The resurrected and exalted Jesus will also praise and bless the LORD

Psalm 22 prophesies that the delivered Messiah will praise the LORD:

"I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You."
(Psalm 22:22)

Hebrews 2:12 reaffirms this prophecy from Psalm 22, showing that Jesus the Messiah will publicly praise and bless the LORD upon His return.

29.   The LORD's rescue of the Messiah will be extravagant and marvelous.

For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city (v 21b).

The LORD's rescue of Jesus was a marvelous display of lovingkindness when God raised Him back to life from the dead. 

After Jesus's public humiliation and death on a cross, it appeared to everyone that He was defeated. His enemies likely breathed a sigh of relief that the upstart Messiah would threaten their power no more. His followers were likely dejected and confused about how things turned for the worse so suddenly. The hopes which the curious passersby had once placed in Him had now faded into doubts and scoffing. 

But then Jesus came back to life. He was resurrected. The phrase besieged city could refer to Jerusalem during the time of Jesus's trial and crucifixion. It was besieged with evil. During this time at least three forces that hated one another conspired to crucify Jesus: Rome, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. This could also be taken metaphorically. 

Like a besieged city on the brink of collapse to a pitiless enemy, the LORD's marvelous lovingkindness ("Hesed"—mercy) most spectacularly and unexpectedly obliterates the adversary to the astonishment of all. 

Isaiah's fourth Servant Song speaks of this marvelous astonishment—both in terms of how horribly the Messiah suffers and in the LORD's exaltation of Him. 

"Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted
Just as many were astonished at you, My people…
…Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand."
(Isaiah 52:13-15)

30.   The Messiah's perilous circumstances will be so tense that He will be tempted to doubt God's faithfulness

As for me, I said in my alarm,
"I am cut off from before Your eyes" (v 22a).

Jesus the Messiah's circumstances were so extreme that He was tempted to doubt God's faithfulness. Jesus did not doubt God's faithfulness, but as a man He was tempted to do so (Hebrews 4:15).

One of the main reasons Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane was so that He would "not enter into temptation" (Matthew 26:41). That was what He asked His disciples to pray for themselves, during His final hours with them before He was arrested and His circumstances turned to sheer agony. 

Jesus's request to them, combined with His own prayers asking His Father for another way, because He was grieved unto death (Matthew 26:38-39), shows that He was tempted to doubt God's goodness. 

The author of Hebrews writes that Jesus "was tempted in that which He suffered" (Hebrews 2:18). These are the things Jesus suffered:

  • He was betrayed by one of His closest followers and friends. (Matthew 26:47-50)
  • He was abandoned by His disciples. (Matthew 26:56)
  • He was maliciously slandered by the religious authorities and illegally condemned to death. (Matthew 26:59-66)

For a list of rules that were broken at Jesus's religious trial, see The Bible Says article: "Jesus's Trial, Part 1. The Laws Broken by the Religious Leaders: A Summary."

  • He was viciously beaten and mocked by those same authorities. (Matthew 26:67-68)
  • He was utterly rejected by the people who called for His blood (Matthew 27:25, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:23, John 19:15)
  • He was inhumanely scourged and mocked by the Romans. (Matthew 27:26-30)
  • He was executed on a cross—a device of physical torture and public humiliation. (Matthew 27:38)

To learn what crucifixion entailed, see The Bible Says article: "Bearing the Cross: Exploring the Unimaginable Suffering of Crucifixion."

  • While on the cross, He suffered the wrath of God as He became the sin of the world. (Matthew 27:45)

Perhaps the most crushing moment that reveals how Jesus was tempted to say in His alarm that He was cut off from before Your eyes was when He cried out after the three hours of darkness: "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).

He might have said this agonizing statement either at the moment, or just after the moment when God had turned His eyes away from His Son—the moment when Jesus was no longer a figure of delight and love to the Father, but an object of wrath as He took on the sins of the world (Colossians 2:14). 

To learn more about the meaning of this disturbing remark, see The Bible Says article: "Jesus's Seven Last Words from the Cross—Part Five: A Word of Agony."

All of these things show how Jesus was tempted to despair of God saving Him during the intense and dire circumstances that He was in—but Jesus did not despair. He continued to trust God even on the cross. We know that He continued to trust God because just a few minutes later Jesus said His last words before He died, which were: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46). And when He said that, Jesus was directly referencing this very psalm—(Psalm 31:5 specifically)—and its core theme of trusting the LORD in all circumstances. 

To learn more about Jesus's final statement before His death, see The Bible Says Article: "Jesus's Seven Last Words from the Cross—Part Seven: A Word of Trust."

31.   The LORD will hear the Messiah's desperate prayers.

Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You (v 22b).

The LORD heard Jesus, the Messiah, when He cried out in desperation. 

Jesus was tempted to doubt that God heard His prayers and supplications when He cried to the LORD, nevertheless, despite any feelings of doubt, God did hear His Son's voice

  • His Father heard Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). 
  • His Father heard Him on the cross, when He cried out "My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). We know Jesus was heard because in His final breath the fellowship between God the Father and God the Son had been restored. Jesus does not impersonally call out to "My God," but uses the more intimate term "Father" (Luke 23:46). 
  • Finally we know the LORD heard Jesus the Messiah's prayers because He raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24) and granted Him all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). Moreover, God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9).

What was true of the psalmists in Psalm 34:4, Psalm 120:1 is also true of Jesus the Messiah,

"I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears."
(Psalm 34:4)

"In my trouble I cried to the LORD,
And He answered me."
(Psalm 120:1)

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