Reading Psalm 31 from the Book of Common Prayer, I so empathize with the psalmist, falling to his knees in prayer. Depressed and paranoid (I imagine), he’s ashamed of wanting the LORD’s help.
Yet . . . he knows that the LORD delivers us. It’s comforting, knowing that this writer, so long ago, knew my anxiety . . . and more importantly, comforting to follow his lead, toward relief, via Our LORD.
At first, I see the psalmist calling on God by rote, merely hinting at his personal problem, struggling for the courage to spill his woes:
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy;All parts of him: eyes, belly, life, years, strength, and bones are miserable. That’s depression. His enemies, neighbors, acquaintances, crowds, cross the street when they see him coming and whisper behind his back. He’s paranoid. “I am as useless as a broken pot”—my favorite line. I know that feeling.
for you have seen my affliction;
you know my distress.
Soon, all the pain comes out:
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble. . . .
But then . . . remembering why he fell to his knees, he does put trust in the LORD. Recalling the God’s true power to comfort, he just begs for it: “. . . in your loving-kindness save me.” Still self-conscious, he wants help with that as well: “LORD, let me not be ashamed for having called upon you.”
By and by, encouraged, having remembered God’s love, he sings praises to the LORD, the wonderful, loving protector of all who put their trust in Him.
Finally, the psalmist and I, restored in spirit, turn to the world, recommending the love of God to everyone:
Love the LORD all you who worship him;
the LORD protects the faithful. . . .
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.