When did this phrase from Psalm 31:15 from the King James Version first cross my mind and eventually stick there? Was it as a child in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School? Or as a teen in Sunday School or youth group, or hearing a message from my pastor? Or later when I started making it a practice to read through the Bible yearly? I honestly can’t recall when this phrase stuck, but somewhere along the way, it did.
The Psalm itself is powerful, from its opening stanza “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness,” as the writer launches his appeal to the Lord for salvation, deliverance, and rescue. I learned early on that verse 5 was taken on the lips and echoed from the heart of our Lord Jesus as He yielded His spirit to His Father while dying on the cross (Luke 23:46) – the last of the seven final words of our Lord on the cross.
The Psalm is most instructive; trusting in the Lord in the midst of trials, of opposition, of sorrow, and affirming over and over that He will help and deliver. The Beacon Bible Commentary says Psalm 31 is “a striking alternation of lament and praise.”1 We would all benefit by learning this Psalm, making it our very own, internalizing its principles and, indeed, its very words, climaxing with the powerful exhortation of verse 24 “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
Right in the middle is verse 15 “my times are in your hands.” Some versions render this “my future.” Other versions translate “fate,” “life-stages,” “destiny.” I sense that the idea is that all of our life is in his hands, his care, concern, and keeping. Wow! He was with me in the past. He is with me today (and moment by moment). He will be with me always. The CSB translates “The course of my life is in your power; rescue me from the power of my enemies and from my persecutors.”2 The “course of my life,” my whole life, from beginning to end, is under His control. What assurance that gives! His power is greater than any other power!
Robert Browning’s beautiful poem “Rabbi Ben Ezra” includes the key line from verse 15:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made.
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned.
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”3
Because of our trust in a Sovereign God, we can have hope even when we fail (and we so often do!). He forgives, He renews, He gives fresh grace, and new beginnings – things we all need.
I will go on, my past I leave behind me
I gladly take his mercy and his love.
He is joy and he is peace, He is strength and sweet release;
I know He is, and I am His, I will go on. 4