What does Psalm 31:12 mean?
ESV: I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
NIV: I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
NASB: I am forgotten like a dead person, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.
CSB: I am forgotten: gone from memory like a dead person--like broken pottery.
NLT: I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot.
KJV: I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
NKJV: I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.
Verse Commentary:
David reports his enemies had convinced friends and neighbors to shun him (Psalm 31:11). Perhaps his associates were afraid to be caught up in physical attacks on David (1 Samuel 19:2; 22:17; Psalm 54:3). Or David's critics might have spread lies and rumors (Psalm 31:13, 18; 38:12; 59:12). In English, those who pretend a despised person doesn't even exist make that person "dead to them." In this verse, David experiences that feeling of being rejected as if he were already dead and forgotten. He also felt like a broken container: useless and tossed aside. Persecution made him feel destitute and worthless.

However, no believer should feel this way. God never abandons a believer. He has promised to be with His children always (Hebrews 13:5). Furthermore, so long as he or she breathes, a believer has something to accomplish for the Lord. This is why it's important for believers to "run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1–2). The apostle Paul is a sterling example of doing God's will to the very end. He writes in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." At the end of the race every faithful believer will receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8).
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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