Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit / Knowing Christ in Psalm 31

by M. Todaro

TWO KINGS PRAYING

This is a Psalm of David.

As Bonhoeffer notes, King David is “a prototype of Jesus Christ. What happens to him happens to him for the sake of the one who is in him and who is said to proceed from him, namely Jesus Christ… These same words which David spoke, therefore, the future Messiah spoke through him. The prayers of David were prayed also by Christ. Or better, Christ himself prayed them through his forerunner David.”

What this means practically is that when the Son of God came as a man, Jesus, He prayed these prayers as a man before God. Yet as the eternal Word of God, He had also inspired David to compose these prayers by the Holy Spirit. The Psalms are not only for us to read, but for us to pray. As we pray them, we should consider that they are the words of Jesus that He has both inspired by the Holy Spirit and prayed to the Father.

One of the most famous prayers of Jesus comes from this Psalm. It would not be a stretch to think that Christ may have been praying (whether silently or aloud) this Psalm, among other Scriptures when on the cross. What we know for certain is that He said the following:


Psalm 31:5

Into your hand I commit my spirit.

Luke 23:46

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.


ONE THIEF PRAYING

But Jesus is not the only one on a cross that day. Jesus was not the only one who committed His spirit into trustworthy hands that day.

And you may have even thought, “What about the part of the Psalm that mentions iniquity?”

Jesus never had to pray for forgiveness of His sins, because Jesus had no sins. Jesus was spotless and sinless, committing no sins of commission (doing the evil) nor omission (not doing the good). The Lord Jesus Christ was in every way, fully pleasing to His Father loving God with all His heart and soul and mind and strength.

So who prays the following?

 


Psalm 31:10

My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

 


When reading the Psalms as prayers of Christ, we must not make theological mistakes. Christ had no inquity of His own. Rather, “the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Bonhoeffer deals with this similarly: “How can the sinless one ask for forgiveness? In no way other than he can, as the sinless one, bear the sins of the world and be made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Not for the sake of his sins, but for the sake of our sins, which he has taken on himself and for which he suffers, does Jesus pray for the forgiveness of sins. He positions himself entirely for us.”

So, even though there is a sense in which Christ prays this for us, we also pray it for ourselves. And here is where we get to the thief on the cross. The one who recognized his iniquity and sin. The one who knew he deserved death and hell. The one who had his eyes opened by the Holy Spirit and was drawn by the Father to look upon Jesus and live.

This criminal also prayed “into your hands I commit my spirit” in his own words to the Lord Jesus.


Luke 23:39-46

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.


Did Jesus pray this Psalm? Yes.

May we pray this Psalm? Yes.

Beloved, into whose nail-scarred hands have you committed your spirit?

The hands of the Lord Jesus Christ will not fail you. This King who suffered died as a criminal, was resurrected and reigns in His kingdom. He is the same King who took a thief to paradise.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 


In Knowing Christ we offer what are commonly called “devotions”, though we think it is more helpful to call these posts by their purpose—Knowing Christ. The name also serves as a reminder to all of us to stay focused on the Lord Jesus Christ whether reading the Bible or praying or eating a sandwich (1 Cor. 10:31)… He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). All things are through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:9-20). Jesus explains the Scriptures and makes our hearts burn within us (Luke 24). Compared to knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, everything else is garbage (Philippians 3:7-4:1)… We pray these posts are used to stir our affections for Him by His word and His grace.


 

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