What does Psalm 31:11 mean?
ESV: Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
NIV: Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends-- those who see me on the street flee from me.
NASB: Because of all my adversaries, I have become a disgrace, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me.
CSB: I am ridiculed by all my adversaries and even by my neighbors. I am dreaded by my acquaintances; those who see me in the street run from me.
NLT: I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors — even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street, they run the other way.
KJV: I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
Being persecuted by one's enemies is difficult. It can be even harder, emotionally, to see friends turn away simply to avoid being caught in that same trouble. This seems to be what David had experienced. Either because of physical threats (1 Samuel 19:2; 22:17; Psalm 54:3) or slander (Psalm 31:13, 18; 38:12; 59:12), David's enemies caused his friends to turn their backs on him.
What David describes here is an almost-total rejection. Friends and neighbors are treating him like an object of fear and loathing. They avoid even associating with him in public. In modern English, acting as if another does not exist means the person is "dead to them." In the next verse, David describes himself in a comparable way (Psalm 31:12). He is as rejected as a broken and value-less container.
In this and other psalms, David foreshadows the suffering of Jesus, who was also rejected. Isaiah 53:3 prophesies concerning Jesus' sufferings: "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." John 1:11 says, "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." Matthew 27:27–31 reports the atrocious way the governor's soldiers treated Jesus when He was their prisoner. Verse 39 indicates that those who passed by Jesus' cross derided and mocked Him.
Psalm 31:9–13 continues David's psalm of praise. He asks the Lord to be gracious to him. He mentions how sin leads to spiritual weakness, while also mourning how the deadly threat of his enemies has caused friends to abandon him. He hears rumors and conversations that inspire terror, knowing his foes scheme against him. And yet, David will not succumb to despair; he chooses to trust in God, as the next passage shows.
Because God has rescued him in the past, David chooses to trust the Lord even when he is in danger. Neighbors and friends may abandon him, and enemies may plot, but David is confident he will be vindicated. He also calls on others to be firm and brave as they choose to trust in God.
David mentions dangers and enemies in this psalm. He may have been referring to besieged cities such as Keilah (1 Samuel 23:1–15) or Ziklag (1 Samuel 30). Despite the plots of his enemies and abandonment by friends, David trusts in the Lord, receives an answer to his prayer, and encourages his fellow believers to love the Lord and be strong. This echoes themes also seen in Psalms 4, 25, and 71.
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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