Psalms 31 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Worn out in mind and body, despised, defamed, and persecuted, the Psalmist casts himself upon God. Faith upholds him as he recalls past mercies; despondency overwhelms him as he thinks of his present distress; till the clouds clear, and the sunlight of God’s goodness floods his soul.
The Psalm falls into three divisions.
i. Professions of trust and prayers for deliverance grounded upon the experience of past mercies (Psa 31:1-8).
ii. Urgent pleading, with a pathetic description of the extremity of his need (Psa 31:9-18).
iii. Grateful celebration of God’s goodness, once more demonstrated in the deliverance of the Psalmist, who looks back in surprise upon his own faint-heartedness, and concludes by exhorting all the godly to take courage (Psa 31:19-24).
Most of the earlier commentators suppose that the Psalm was written by David in the wilderness of Maon, and point to the coincidence between in my haste ( Psa 31:22), and “David made haste to flee” (1Sa 23:26). The Sept. translators appear to have seen in that verse a reference to the occasion of the Psalm, for they add ἐκστάσεως ( for desperation) to the title, and ἐν τῇ ἐκστάσει μου ( in my desperation) is their rendering in Psa 31:22.
But the situation of the Psalmist and the tone of the Psalm would rather suggest that Jeremiah, or some prophet in similar circumstances of persecution, was its author. Comp. Psa 31:10 with Jer 20:18; ‘the broken vessel’ ( Psa 31:12) with Jer 22:28; Jer 48:38; Psa 31:13 with Jer 20:10; Psa 31:17 with Jer 17:18; Psa 31:22 with Lam 3:54. Still it is quite possible that Jeremiah may be using the words of the Psalm which was familiar to him.
The striking difference in the tone of Psa 31:9-18 from that of 1 8 and 19 24 suggests the possibility that these verses may be a later addition: and it is noteworthy that the parallels with the Book of Jeremiah occur almost exclusively in Psa 31:9-18, while the first and third divisions resemble Psalms which have good claims to be regarded as Davidic. But the change of tone may only correspond to a change of situation.
The latter part of the Psalm has several parallels with Psalms 28. With Psa 31:21 a comp. Psa 28:6 a; with Psa 31:22 b cp. Psa 28:2; Psa 28:6; with Psa 31:23 cp. Psa 28:4. Comp. too Psa 31:22 ( as for me) with Psa 30:6; and the invitation in Psa 31:23 with Psa 30:4.
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".