Prayer in Distress and Thanksgiving for Escape

1For the leader. A psalm of David.


2In you, LORD, I take refuge;a

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me;

3incline your ear to me;

make haste to rescue me!

Be my rock of refuge,

a stronghold to save me.

4For you are my rock and my fortress;b

for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

5Free me from the net they have set for me,

for you are my refuge.

6*Into your hands I commend my spirit;c

you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth.

7You hate those who serve worthless idols,

but I trust in the LORD.

8I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy,

once you have seen my misery,

[and] gotten to know the distress of my soul.d

9You will not abandon me into enemy hands,

but will set my feet in a free and open space.


10Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am in distress;

affliction is wearing down my eyes,

my throat and my insides.

11My life is worn out by sorrow,

and my years by sighing.

My strength fails in my affliction;

my bones are wearing down.e

12To all my foes I am a thing of scorn,

and especially to my neighbors

a horror to my friends.

When they see me in public,

they quickly shy away.f

13I am forgotten, out of mind like the dead;

I am like a worn-out tool.*

14I hear the whispers of the crowd;

terrors are all around me.*

They conspire together against me;

they plot to take my life.

15But I trust in you, LORD;

I say, “You are my God.”g

16My destiny is in your hands;

rescue me from my enemies,

from the hands of my pursuers.

17Let your face shine on your servant;h

save me in your mercy.

18Do not let me be put to shame,

for I have called to you, LORD.

Put the wicked to shame;

reduce them to silence in Sheol.

19Strike dumb their lying lips,

which speak arrogantly against the righteous

in contempt and scorn.i


20How great is your goodness, Lord,

stored up for those who fear you.

You display it for those who trust you,

in the sight of the children of Adam.

21You hide them in the shelter of your presence,

safe from scheming enemies.

You conceal them in your tent,

away from the strife of tongues.j

22Blessed be the LORD,

marvelously he showed to me

his mercy in a fortified city.

23Though I had said in my alarm,

“I am cut off from your eyes.”k

Yet you heard my voice, my cry for mercy,

when I pleaded with you for help.

24Love the LORD, all you who are faithful to him.

The LORD protects the loyal,

but repays the arrogant in full.

25Be strong and take heart,

all who hope in the LORD.

* [Psalm 31] A lament (Ps 31:219) with a strong emphasis on trust (Ps 31:4, 6, 1516), ending with an anticipatory thanksgiving (Ps 31:2024). As is usual in laments, the affliction is couched in general terms. The psalmist feels overwhelmed by evil people but trusts in the “God of truth” (Ps 31:6).

* [31:6] Into your hands I commend my spirit: in Lk 23:46 Jesus breathes his last with this Psalm verse. Stephen in Acts 7:59 alludes to these words as he is attacked by enemies. The verse is used as an antiphon in the Divine Office at Compline, the last prayer of the day.

* [31:13] Like a worn-out tool: a common comparison for something ruined and useless, cf. Is 30:14; Jer 19:11; 22:28.

* [31:14] Terrors are all around me: a cry used in inescapable danger, cf. Jer 6:25; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29.

a. [31:24] Ps 71:13.

b. [31:4] Ps 18:2.

c. [31:6] Lk 23:46; Acts 7:59.

d. [31:8] Ps 10:14.

e. [31:11] Ps 32:3; 38:1011.

f. [31:12] Jb 19:1319.

g. [31:15] Ps 140:7; Is 25:1.

h. [31:17] Ps 67:1; Nm 6:24.

i. [31:19] Ps 12:4.

j. [31:21] Ps 27:5.

k. [31:23] Jon 2:5.

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