Psalm 31:5

Sermon preached on March 3, 2002 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

One of the most fascinating stories I have ever read was the account of the
Endurance Expedition that went to the Antarctic in 1914. They were supposed to land a group of scientists to do research but instead their ship got trapped in the ice. For 281 days they drifted in the icepack until the ice finally crushed their ship. Before the ship sank they managed to retrieve many supplies and two small boats. They lived on the ice for awhile and eventually made their way to the edge of the ice and managed to get ashore on Elephant Island, one of the islands of Antarctica. The island provided almost no shelter but it was the best they could do. At that point, Ernest Shackleton, the captain and leader of the expedition, decided that the only thing to do was for six of them to take one of the small boats and try to get help by sailing it to the island of South Georgia, which was 800 miles away. It was a very perilous journey. The Springfield Republican wrote, (March 7, 1920)

"The story of the voyage that six men made in an open boat across eight hundred miles of the roughest water in the world, to bring relief to the twenty-two companions who remained on the island, rivals the best sea tale ever written."

Shackleton and his companions made it to South Georgia. But by the time they arrived their boat was in such poor condition that they landed the first opportunity they had. The trouble was that the whaling station was on the other side of the island. No one had ever crossed the island before. But Shackleton and two others walked across mountains and glaciers and finally made it to the whaling station. Then Shackleton had to arrange a rescue. Time and again he managed to get a boat and head to Antarctica only to be thwarted by the ice. Once the ship he was on came in sight of the mountains of Elephant Island, but they couldn't get any closer. But he kept trying. Finally, four and a half months after he left his men, he managed to lead a rescue ship to his stranded men. When they were rescued the stranded party only had two days of food left.

One of the most remarkable parts of the story was the faith that the stranded men had in their captain. They never gave up hope. This was in great measure due to the efforts of their leader, a very capable man named Frank Wild. He had an unbounded hope and faith in his captain. This was evident by something that he did everyday, starting two weeks after the captain left. Shackleton wrote, (South, by Ernest Shackleton, p. 262)

"From a fortnight after I had left, Wild would roll up his sleeping bag each day with the remark, 'Get your things ready, boys, the Boss may come today.'"

Wild had confidence in his captain. He had confidence in his word. He had confidence in his ability to get through and return with a rescue party. He knew that Shackleton was a man of integrity. He knew that he was either going to lead a rescue or die trying. He knew that Shackleton was thoroughly committed to his men and that he was going to be true to them. That's why every day he rolled up his sleeping bag and told his men to do the same. He knew his captain was true.

The same is true of our God, only in a much greater and more profound way. That's what our text tells us. It reads, (Psalm 31:5)

"Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD,
the God of truth."

This teaches us that

our God is a God of absolute integrity and truth. He is reliable . You can depend on Him. He is true.

Our God is a God of truth. This as an axiom that we should be assured of no matter what emergency we find ourselves in.

To help us see this, we need to step back and look at this in the
wider context. What is this all about? Who is speaking these words? If you look at the title you'll see that it's a psalm of David. David wrote it about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Many commentators believe that David wrote it during the period when King Saul was trying to kill him. That may be true.

But what we should realize is that it's a
messianic psalm. By that I mean that it pointed to Jesus and to His work at Calvary. Indeed, Jesus quoted at least part of this verse while He was on the cross. In Luke 23:46 we read,

"Jesus called out with a loud voice,
'Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit.'
When he had said this,
he breathed his last."

By quoting from our text Jesus was affirming before everyone that God is a God of truth and that He can be trusted.

When Jesus spoke these words great things were at stake. On the one hand
the fate of Jesus human soul was in the balance. He committed His spirit to the Father's care. On the other hand the fate of all of God's people was tied to this event. Franz Delitzsch says that this,

"marks in Christ's mouth a crisis in the history of redemption…”

Jesus is approaching His final act of obedience. He is nearing the climax of His work. He comes to the point where He is about to give His life on our behalf. At that point—what does He want us to know? He wants us to know that He is trusting in God because God is a God of truth. He testifies that God is dependable, that He is reliable, that He can be trusted. Thus Jesus quotes from Psalm 31.

One of the things that we should remember about
the New Testament quoting the Old Testament is that very often the quotes are pointers not just to the Old Testament words that are quoted, but to their context as well.

As an example, have you ever heard people express doubts about Jesus because on the cross He said,

"My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?"

People have used that to suggest that Jesus was disillusioned by what happened to Him. They use it to argue that Jesus was mistaken about being the Messiah, that His words were words of doubt and disappointment.

But if you consider that His words were a direct quote from
Psalm 22—and that much of that psalm is a graphic description of the sufferings of Christ and makes reference to how they divided his garments among them, how they cast lots for His clothes (verse 18) —and that the psalm is not about doubting God, but of trusting Him, of praising Him (verse 22) of having hope in Him (verse 25f)—then you will not see Jesus' words as ones of doubt and disillusionment. Rather you will see them as the words of the Messiah who is faithfully administering His role.

Now if you apply the same principle to our text you will see that by speaking these words Jesus is drawing our attention to the context of Psalm 31. Although He did not say that God was a 'God of truth', He pointed us to those words.

Thus Jesus, at the hour of supreme crisis—in His life and in the history of redemption—declares to all that God is fully trustworthy and reliable.

He not only entrusted His human soul to it, but the fate of all His people. That's how assured of it He was that God was true.

The second thing about God's truth I want you to see is that

This is something that you should be absolutely convinced of.

David was absolutely convinced that God's promises would come true, that God would redeem him. We see this in how he wrote this verse.

Sometimes in the Old Testament the prophets used the past tense to refer to future events. In his commentary on the Psalms Franz Delitzsch writes on the tense of the Hebrew verb that is translated, 'redeem'. He tells us that the perfect tense here is,

"not supplicatory…”

Rather it is,

"the expression of believing anticipation of redemption… for the spirit of faith… speaks of the future with historical certainty."

"What is so earnestly hoped for appears… to be as good as already done."

Now what this means is that David is so confident of the truth and integrity of God, so sure that God will redeem him—that his confidence in it is the same as with things that have already taken place.

You'll remember when David wanted to go out and fight Goliath, King Saul told him that he was not able to go out and fight against the Philistine. David replied that while he was keeping his father's sheep he had killed a lion and a bear. Those acts were in the past. They had happened. They were historical. David knew that God had delivered him. He was sure of those things.

Well, here he has the same confidence in God. Thus He writes about God's deliverance as if it were already past. He is so sure of it that it is as if it were already in the past. God is a God of truth. His promises are absolutely certain. Nothing can stop God from saving. (1 Samuel 14:6)

David knew that

truth is of the very essence of God's character. He is true. He cannot be otherwise.

We read about this in Hebrews 6:18. It says,

"God did this so that,
by two unchangeable things in which
it is
impossible for God to lie..."

God's very nature is truth. That's why David calls Him,

"the God of truth."

God is so true that it is impossible for Him to be otherwise. God is not like us. We can be true or we can be false. We can speak the truth or we can tell lies. God is not like that. He is true, always. Truth is an essential part of His character. God is true. He is the truth. Herman Bavinck writes, (The Doctrine of God, p. 201)

"Truth does not merely pertain to him, but he is himself the truth."

This is a very important point.

God Himself is the standard of truth.

We see this in Jesus' words in John 14:6. He said,

"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

Jesus is the truth. We see this in John 1:14 as well. John wrote,

"The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth."

Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth. God is a God of truth. This applies to all three persons of the Godhead.

Right after He declared Himself the truth in John 14:6 Jesus went on to talk about the Father and how He had come to reveal the Father and how anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father. Paul wrote about this in
2 Corinthians 4:6.

"For God, who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness,'
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Our God is a God of truth.

This also relates to the Spirit. In the Scriptures He is sometimes designated the '
Spirit of truth'. One example is found in John 16:13. Jesus said,

"But when he,
the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth.
He will not speak on his own;
he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come."

Our God is a God of truth. He is the standard of truth. Truth comes from Him.

Now what does all this mean?

It means that you should believe God.

Many people today are confused about what is true. But it's nothing new. Pilate asked Jesus, (John 18;38)

"What is truth?"

One of R.C. Sproul's videos begins with a series of video clips asking university students about truth. Some of them say absolutely outlandish things, even suggesting that all truth is relative.

How do we know what's true?

Consider what the words of our text teach us. Consider what Jesus' use of them teaches us. They teach us to believe God.

There are many situations today where you may be tempted to doubt God's Word. Living in our society we are told to disbelieve all the time. Not long ago I was reading in
Scientific American magazine where someone stated that evolution is one of the most certain of scientific facts. (Skeptic, The Gradual Illumination of the Mind, February 2002, p. 35) He also dismissed any notion of God creating life.

But David tells us to believe God, to believe His promises, to believe His Word. Our God is a God of truth. He knows what is true. His character is one of truth. He also knows the truth about everything. A few weeks ago we looked at the concept of
God's knowledge. Job told us that God is, (Job 37:16)

"perfect in knowledge."

Grudem writes, (Systematic Theology p. 195)

"To say that God knows all things and that his knowledge is perfect is to say that he is never mistaken in his perception or understanding of the world: all that he knows and thinks is true and is a correct understanding of the nature of reality."

You should always believe what God says. His Word is true. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:35,

"Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will never pass away."

God knows what reality is. He knows what is good for us. He knows what is bad for us. His Words are the words of life.

Don't be like Eve, who disbelieved God. Trust God. Trust His Word. One of the most common expressions Jesus used when He was teaching was the phrase,

"I tell you the truth…”

He wasn't kidding. You need to believe Him.

Secondly, this means that

you should trust God.

Jesus committed His soul to God's care. He committed the fate of all His people to the Father's care.

This shows you that whatever situation you find yourself in, whether you're facing imminent death, whether you're facing horrible suffering, whatever—that God is trustworthy and true, that you can rely upon Him and His Words. Daniel believed that. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego believe that. So should you.