Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Psalm 31:19–20—NKJV

God moved King David to give us a lasting treasure of comfort when he penned this Psalm. Though every one of the 150 psalms reveals the glory of God and of His Son Jesus Christ, this psalm is one of the special ones which contain a verse quoted in the New Testament and directly connected to the earthly ministry of Christ. Psalm 31 is one of the “messianic psalms.” When you read the words in verse 5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit” you recognize the final words of our Savior from the cross as He died to pay the penalty for our sin, the Just for the unjust.

Verses 1–8 tell of supreme confidence in God despite the conflicts with enemies. Verses 9–18 recount a prayer in the depths of trouble. Verses 19–24 praise the goodness of God. It is not inconceivable that our Lord rehearsed this chapter in His mind during those terrible, dark hours on the cross as He bore our sin and punishment upon Himself. What an act of grace that He quoted from this psalm with His final breath! With His quote He gave us a legacy of grace when we, in turn, suffer for His sake. Through faith in His mediatory work we receive healing for the wounds we receive while in His service.

The trials that believers have in common often include vicious verbal attacks meant to impugn righteous character. The enemies of the Gospel seem to have a broad advantage being largely unencumbered with scruples, reckless in arrogant speech and despitefully scornful of the Lord’s chosen ones. The conscientious saint is ever mindful that he dare not play by those rules and respond in kind, especially for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. The saint is genuinely concerned for the lost condition of the enemies of the Gospel.

The godly answer to the threats is a conscious reliance upon the strong Defense which is God (verses 2–3). It is this simple trust which buoys the psalmist up in praise above the tumult, clamor, and rude behavior of the ungodly as we arrive at verses 19 and 20—the secret of grace under fire.

The secret is to watch the unfolding good work of God and to live in His presence. Though David does not even attempt to give human measure to the goodness of God in verse 19, He does provide a warm picture of the practical effectiveness of God’s goodness experienced by the saints. I liken it to the common experience of our childhood. Everyone remembers being a teenager, being hungry and being discouraged by an empty cupboard and a sparse refrigerator. When Mom and Dad went grocery shopping, there was renewed hope that life would be good again!

David tells us that God has laid up in store goodness for those who fear Him; the cupboard is full with all sorts of promise and hope for days to come. David then tells us that God has taken from His brimming cupboard of goodness and has prepared a meal of goodness just for this very moment.

In verse 20 we see the invitation to dine at His goodness table and in the exclusive presence of the great, good God. The text says that He hides believers in the secret place of His presence. This secret place is further called His pavilion, or shelter, hidden away from the slights, barbs and plots of men. What saintly energy, resolve, and victory can be gained from dwelling in the protective care of the goodness of God found only in His presence! There is great safety and comfort found at His well-provisioned table of goodness and with such august Company.

Any saint who is well fed at the table of the Lord and refreshed in the presence of God will not fail to display grace under fire. Be sure to camp out in His presence and observe His goodness daily. Trust and obey.