Psalm 31:4-6 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD.
As I reflected on these verses, three other parts of Scripture came to mind. The first was 1 Peter 5:8, the second Jonah 2:8, and the third Luke 23:46
Firstly, Peter warns us to remain ‘self-controlled’ and ‘alert’ at all times because our ‘enemy, the devil’ is always actively on the prowl to get us, to trip us up with his cunning traps and devices. Paul warned the Christians in Corinth of Satan’s deceitful ways, ‘masquerading as an angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14), and Jesus, my Redeemer, the LORD, the God of truth, referred to him as the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44).
In Psalm 31, King David was well aware of all the traps that were being set for him because he had the courage to make a stand for God’s righteousness and truth in a godless generation, thus making himself a sitting target for Satan’s attacks. Perhaps he was even reflecting on the occasion when he failed to be self-controlled and alert by dwelling too long on the outward beauty of his bathing neighbour, Bathsheba … and, alas, the trap was sprung! He realised then how much he depended constantly on the LORD’s help to free him from such hidden traps. The response of his inner spirit, his God-activated conscience, was to ‘hate’ those who ‘cling to worthless idols’ – in the Bathsheba case: himself. We read all about the loathing he had for himself on that occasion in Psalm 51! The Apostle John warns us about this sort of trap: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16). So David describes the succumbing to such ‘traps’ of the Devil as ‘clinging to worthless idols’.
Secondly, the phrase, ‘clinging to worthless idols’ uses exactly the same Hebrew vocabulary as is used in Jonah 2:8. The Prophet Jonah had got himself into a terrible mess by trying to run away from God’s will for his life. He cried out from the depths of despair in the belly of the great fish, as he experienced the entanglement of smelly seaweed wrapped around his head, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”! What a light bulb moment for this desperate fugitive! And I find myself asking, “Why don’t I learn to TRUST GOD more? Why don’t I remember more often that ‘clinging’ to the ‘worthless idols’ Satan keeps offering me (usually in very attractive and tempting packaging!) only results in my ‘FORFEITING the GRACE that COULD BE MINE!? If only I would always have the resolve, and the courage, to look Satan squarely in the face, and say with King David: “I trust in the LORD.”! After all, with David, I ‘HATE those who cling to worthless idols’, including myself!
Lastly, Luke tells us that Jesus himself quoted from this Psalm when he cried out from the cross “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) – What safer refuge can there be?