It’s happened to me several times in my life and will likely occur again. It’s never a pleasant experience; the slander and accusations sometimes ring in my ears for a long time afterward.
Oh, I am used to attacks from strangers who disagree with my beliefs. It’s so much different when the assault on my faith and on what I believe comes from someone close to me.
Psalm 31 brought much comfort during such a time. I was turning to Psalm 34 when I opened my Bible to Psalm 31 and the words seemed to leap off the page.
The key phrase in this Psalm (at least for me) is God’s “steadfast love” (ESV). Chesed, in the original, is also translated “lovingkindness” or just “kindness” in other places and versions. It’s difficult for one English word or phrase to capture the essence of the Hebrew. The word encompasses the Lord’s covenant relationship with us and thus His never ending faithfulness and unfailing love for us. His commitment to our well-being never fails us.
The three instances of “steadfast love” in Psalm 31 gave me three truths to remember when others attack with disparaging words.
1. The Lord Sees!
Verse 7 says, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.” No matter what our circumstances, as God’s dear children we are never alone in our sorrow. The Lord sees and understands our grief. He is beside us all the time regardless of what comes our way.
I felt God's comfort as I meditated on this. When our hearts ache, we just want someone to notice, do we not? The Lord is intimately aware of all our inner anguish. He never leaves us during the bad times; He remains by our side no matter what happens.
2. We Can Trust the Lord!
Psalm 31:14-18 emphasizes that we can trust the Lord. He sees the end from the beginning and as David says, our life, or “times,” rests in His hand (v. 15).
The Lord’s “steadfast love” toward us signifies that ultimately we will not be put to shame. Yes, we will blow it at times and make mistakes. We may employ faulty judgment at times. I speak from experience here.
However, those of us in Christ possess forgiveness for all our sins. There may be times when people close to us say they are ashamed of us and we may even feel that way ourselves in some instances.
However, because of God’s never ending and never failing love for us, shame will not be final banner over our lives. In the end, His love for us will reign supreme and we will not be put to shame no matter what accusations others heap upon us, truthful or not.
His banner over us will always be love! We can trust His forgiveness of our sins.
3. The Lord Defends Us!
In Psalm 31:19-22, David recounts an experience of God’s “steadfast love” when he delivered him from a “besieged city.” The Psalmist does not provide the details of this rescue, but simply adds that the Lord heard his “pleas for mercy.”
In whatever situation we might find ourselves, we can know that the Lord will hear our cries for help. He is the One who ultimately defends us even we cannot.
I love the concluding verses of Psalm 31, “Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (vv. 23-24).
Although we can always count on the Lord’s faithfulness to us, we do not always experience it on our timetable. Hence we see the depiction of saints as those “who wait for the Lord.” There’s that pesky word “wait.”
What can we do when hurt by the slander of others? We can rest in God’s “steadfast love” for us knowing He sees what we are going through; we can trust Him to defend us in His time.
Until then, the Psalmist says to “Be strong, and let your heart take courage.”
So hang in there! The Lord’s love will not fail us regardless of what others say about us or do to us.