Psalm 31 and Praying Scripture

Tom Fox preached a wonderful sermon on Psalm 31 yesterday. He made a number of good points, but one that particularly struck me had to do with praying Scripture. This topic has been on my mind and Psalm 31 is an interesting example of this as Tom pointed out. Not only do we have examples of later biblical authors using Psalm 31, in this Psalm David prays a portion of the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:26.

So in the prayerbook of the Bible, we have a prayer which itself draws on previous Scripture for language to pray. Then portions of this Psalm are prayed at least three times later in Scripture. Jonah, in the belly of the fish, draws on 31:6 as he prays (Jonah 2:8). Jeremiah, as he wrestles with God and the suffering his calling requires, uses the language of 31:13 (Jer. 20:10; this language shows up several times in Jeremiah. Was this Psalm particularly significant to Jeremiah? One could see why it would be). Then, Jesus on the cross prays 31:5 (Luke 23:46; and it seems Stephen may be alluding to this verse as well, imitating Jesus in Acts 7:59).

This is a powerful example of the praying of Scripture. This is a biblical model which can be a great help to us. It has been to me.

Bonhoeffer was right: “If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer.” (Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, 11-12)

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