The Song Book of the Son
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O YHWH, faithful God.”
This Psalm was one of the last things to pass through Jesus’ mind on the cross (Luke 23:46).
Consider that, these words…..words we can read from the comfort of our homes, words we can read with a coffee in our hand or music in the background or in a contemplative church service…these words were sung in the heart of God incarnate as His life ebbed away under the weight of divine wrath. These are amazing things to consider….today I want to look at just two brief thoughts stirred by this Psalm.
The Song Book of the Son
First, Christ’s use of the Psalms on the cross is a testimony to the power of these truths. The Psalms have the capacity to sustain a soul as it drinks hell itself to the dregs…..they were tested under the most extreme duress a human can endure – and beyond what a human can endure – and they proved true…..the Psalms were the comfort of God the Son’s soul as He suffered on the cross, Oh how sufficient they must then be for our sojourn in this world!
Think of it, when Christ went to Gethsemane, before He entered the “olive press” and – in love – chose to bear the hatred of God against all His people’s sins, Jesus sang a Psalm (likely Psalm 118). And then, on the cross, He turns to the Psalms at least twice (Psalm 22:1, 31:5) and likely more. What does our incarnate Lord and God do when faced with infinite suffering? He sings the Psalms to His Father. How amazing, the songs that comforted Christ’s heart, the prayers that His Spirit placed on the Psalmists to write centuries before His birth and that He took on His own lips during His incarnation, the promises and pleas and hopes and assurances that flowed through the Lord’s veins as He poured out His blood for us……..these same words are available to us in our hardships.
What a fellowship we can have with our Lord in our own suffering….when hardships come, when fears and doubts and pains are ordained for us, we can take up the same “book of prayers” that Christ Himself used. When we pray and sing the Psalms in our anguish, we are pouring out the molten affections of our hearts into the same mold that was made and used by Christ, and there we will – by grace – find ourselves being cast into His same image. We have an awesome gift in the Psalms.
Lived and Purchased for Us at the Cross
Secondly, notice how the two halves of Psalm 31:5 interact with one another in light of the Gospel. The Psalms are first of all the songs of Jesus Christ, and only because they are His do they become ours. On the cross, Jesus committed His soul into the hands of the Father, offering Himself up for the sins of His people. And it was by this offering of Himself that Christ, in a sense, redeemed Himself. That is to say, Jesus is raised from the dead as the first fruits of His own accomplishment at the cross. Hebrews 13:20 teaches us that, by inaugurating the New Covenant in His blood, Jesus “purchased” His own resurrection (and in Him, all those who would trust in Him). So, first and foremost, Psalm 31:5 is about Jesus, the one who commits His soul to God in death and, in doing so, is “redeemed.”
And now, because of Jesus’ work, we can confidently pray these words. Christ Jesus – the man who is God the Son, the Eternal Word, the Only Begotten One, our Lord and our God – spoke the first half of this verse in order that everyone who calls on His name might be assured of the second half. If YHWH God, in the person of the Son, had not become flesh in Jesus and had not stood under the wrath of the Father, if our Lord had not poured out His spirit into the Father’s hands in obedient, love-manifesting death, then neither David nor I nor anyone else could say, “you have redeemed me…” Our redemption price is the giving up of the Son’s spirit to the Father………the first half of this verse is how the second half is enabled for the people of God. Awesome.
In the Psalms, Jesus Himself – like a father teaching his child to draw a circle – takes the hand of our heart and teaches how to pray…..how to rejoice, how to suffer, how to sing with hope in darkness and how to wait with confidence for the Day of God’s dawning. May we always wonder to know that we share these words with our Savior, and that every word we pray and every ounce of grace that moves us to pray and every answer to our pleas has been purchased by the steadfast love and faithfulness of God in Him.