The Treasury of David

The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.

Psalm 31

Title. To the Chief Musician—a Psalm of David. The dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung. Perhaps the Psalms, thus marked, might have been set aside as too mournful for temple worship, if special care had not been taken by the Holy Spirit to indicate them as being designed for the public edification of the Lord’s people. May there not also be in Psalms thus designated a peculiar distinct reference to the Lord Jesus? He certainly manifests himself very clearly in the twenty-second, which bears this title; and in the one before us we plainly hear his dying voice in the fifth verse. Jesus is chief everywhere, and in all the holy songs of his saints he is the chief musician. The surmises that Jeremiah penned this Psalm need no other answer than the fact that it is “a Psalm of David.”

Subject. The psalmist in dire affliction appeals to his God for help with much confidence and holy importunity, and ere long finds his mind so strengthened that he magnifies the Lord for his great goodness. Some have thought that the occasion in his troubled life which led to this Psalm, was the treachery of the men of Keilah, and we have felt much inclined to this conjecture; but after reflection it seems to us that its very mournful tone, and its allusion to his iniquity demand a later date, and it may be more satisfactory to illustrate it by the period when Absalom had rebelled, and his courtiers were fled from him, while lying lips spread a thousand malicious rumours against him. It is perhaps quite as well that we have no settled season mentioned, or we might have been so busy in applying it to David’s case as to forget its suitability to our own.

Division. There are no great lines of demarcation; throughout the strain undulates, falling into valleys of mourning, and rising with hills of confidence. However, we may for convenience arrange it thus: David testifying his confidence in God pleads for help, Psalms 31:1-6; expresses gratitude for mercies received, Psalms 31:7-8; particularly describes his case, Psalms 31:9-13; vehemently pleads for deliverance, Psalms 31:14-18; confidently and thankfully expects a blessing, Psalms 31:19-22; and closes by showing the bearing of his case upon all the people of God.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 31:15


My times are in thy hand. The sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for care, a grave for despair. Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. It is lawful to desire escape from persecution if it be the Lord’s will; and when this may not be granted us in the form which we desire, sustaining grace will give us deliverance in another form, by enabling us to laugh to scorn all the fury of the foe.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

See Psalms on “Psalms 31:12 for further information.

My times are in thy hand. It is observable that when, of late years, men grow weary of the long and tedious compass in their voyages to the East Indies, and would needs try a more compendious way by the North west passage, it ever proved unsuccessful. Thus it is that we must not use any compendious way; we may not neglect our body, nor shipwreck our health, nor anything to hasten death, because we shall gain by it. He that maketh haste (even this way) to be rich shall not be innocent; for our times are in God’s hands, and therefore to his holy providence we must leave them. We have a great deal of work to do, and must not, therefore, be so greedy of our Sabbath day, our rest, as not to be contented with our working day, our labour. Hence it is that a composed frame of mind, like that of the apostle’s Philippians 1:21, wherein either to stay and work, or to go and rest, is the best temper of all. Edward Reynolds, in J. Spencer’s “Things New and Old.”

My times. He does not use the plural number, in my opinion, without reason; but rather to mark the variety of casualties by which the life of man is usually harassed.—John Calvin.

In thy hand. The watch hangs ticking against the wall, when every tick of the watch is a sigh, and a consciousness, alas! Poor watch! I called once to see a friend, the physician and the secretary of one of the most noble and admirable of the asylums for the insane in this country. A poor creature, with a clear, bright intelligence, only that some of its chords had become unstrung, who had usually occupied itself innocently by making or unmaking watches, had just before I called, exhibited some new, alarming symptoms, dashing one and then another upon the stone floor, and shivering them. Removed into a more safe room, I visited him with the secretary. “How came you to destroy your favourite watches, so much as you loved them, and so quiet as you are?” said my friend; and the poor patient replied, in a tone of piercing agony, “I could not bear the tick, tick, ticking, and so I dashed it on the pavement.” But when the watch is able to surrender itself to the maker, to the hand holding the watch, and measuring out the moments, it becomes a sight affecting indeed, but very beautiful, very sublime. We transfer our thoughts from the watch to the hand that holds the watch. My times, Thy hand; the watch and the hour have a purpose, and so are not in vain. God gives man permission to behold two things. Man can see the whole work, the plan’s completeness, also the minutest work, the first step towards the plan’s completeness. Nothing is more certain, nothing are men more indisposed to perceive than this. We have to

“Wait for some transcendent life,

Reserved by God to follow this.”

Robert Browning.

To this end God’s real way is made up of all the ways of our life. His hand holds all our times. My times;” “Thy hand.” Some lives greatly differ from others. This we know; but see, some lives fulfil life’s course, gain life’s crown—life in their degree. This, on the contrary, others quite miss. Yet, for even human strength there must be a love meted out to rule it. It is said, there is a moon to control the tides of every sea; is there not a master power for souls? It may not always be so, apparently, in the more earthly lives, but it is so in the heavenly; not more surely does the moon sway tides, than God sways souls. It does not seem sometimes as if man found no adequate external power, and stands forth ordained to be a law to his own sphere; but even then his times are in the hands of God, as the pathway of a star is in the limitations of its system—as the movements of a satellite are in the forces of its planet. But while I would not pause on morbid words or views of life, so neither do I desire you to receive or charge me with giving only a moody, morbid view of the world, and an imperfect theology; but far other. My times are in thy handthe hand of my Saviour.”

“I report as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, but all’s law. In the Godhead I seek and I find it, and so it shall be

A face like my face that receives thee, a Man like to me Thou shalt love and be loved by for ever, a hand like this hand Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee: See the Christ stand!“—Robert Browning.

And now he is “the restorer of paths to dwell in.” The hand of Jesus is the hand which rules our times. He regulates our life clock. Christ for and Christ in us. My times in his hand. My life can be no more in vain than was my Saviour’s life in vain. E. Paxton Hood, in “Dark Sayings on a Harp,” 1865.

When David had Saul at his mercy in the cave, those about him said, This is the time in which God will deliver thee. 1 Samuel 24:4. No, saith David, the time is not come for my deliverance till it can be wrought without sin, and I will wait for that time; for it is God’s time, and that is the best time. Matthew Henry.

Hints to the Village Preacher

The believer the peculiar care of providence.

(first clause).

  1. The character of the earthly experience of the saints, “My times, “that is, the changes I shall pass through, etc.
  2. The advantage of this variety.
    1. Changes reveal the various aspects of the Christian character.
    2. Changes strengthen the Christian character.
    3. Changes lead us to admire an unchanging God.
  3. Comfort for all seasons.
    1. This implies the changes of life are subject to the divine control.
    2. That God will support his people under them.
    3. And, consequently, they shall result in our being abundantly profited.
    4. The deportment which should characterise us. Courageous devotion to God in times of persecution; resignation and contentment in times of poverty and suffering; zeal and hope in times of labour. From Stems and Twigs, or Sermon Framework.

The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms


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