What does Psalm chapter 31 mean?David begins this psalm with a prayer for deliverance from his enemies and for guidance. He trusts in the Lord for stability, security, and protection. Everything, including David's life, is placed in God's care (Psalm 31:1–5).
Next, David praises God for the times when he experienced divine rescue. David shuns those who worship false gods, pointing to how the One True God answered his prayers. Because of that history, David is confident that God has placed him in a position of safety and stability (Psalm 31:6–8).
Even so, David still experiences hardships. His enemies plot and lie about him. Friends and neighbors turn their backs on him. As it would for anyone, this pushes David to exhaustion and tempts him to despair. Nevertheless, he trusts in the Lord and believes his entire life is controlled and guided by God's hand (Psalm 31:9–15).
In ancient figures of speech, a shining face represented happiness and approval. Hebrew thinking also used "light" as a symbol for truth and goodness. So, when David asks God to "shine His face," he is asking for divine approval and blessing. This echoes the words God gave to Aaron to use when blessing Israel (Numbers 6:22–27). David prays that his scheming enemies be the ones to suffer loss and death (Psalm 31:16–18).
The psalm closes with expressions of amazement. God serves as a refuge of goodness for those who trust in Him. Those who follow the Lord will ultimately be rescued from all evil, including plots and accusations. Although David's natural fears made him feel alienated from the Lord, he testifies that the Lord heard his prayer. He concludes with an appeal to the Lord's people, knowing the Lord avenges the wicked. He encourages all who trust God to be purposeful, brave, and constant in their faith (Psalm 31:19–24).