Compare and contrast Psalm 31:5 and Luke 23:44. Does the New Testament maintain what the Hebrew Bible declares in Psalm 31:5? Why or why not?

Quick answer:

Psalm 31:5 and Luke 23:46 are different versions of the same verse. They differ in context, as one is a generic prayer any faithful Jew can say while the other is the specific utterance of Jesus on the cross. However, they are the alike in that Jesus maintains the same meaning in his utterance as the Hebrew Bible, an affirmation of his faith in the protection of God.

Expert Answers

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In Psalm 31:5, the speaker states:

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

The context of verse five from Psalm 31 is a song or prayer in which the speaker affirms their belief in the one God of the Israelites and disavows idols. The speaker puts their full trust in God, calling him his "rock" and "fortress." They ask God to "guide" them and to keep them free from traps that are set for them. They sum this all up at the end of the stanza in the lines above, saying that they commit their soul fully to the Lord, knowing God will save and protect them.

In Luke 23:46, the context is different, although the words are the same. Jesus is dying on the cross, and these words from Psalm 31 come to him. He cries out,

with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Psalm 31 is a generic song or prayer that any faithful Jewish person can recite to call on God's protection and affirm trust and connection. In Luke, on the other hand, we witness a single individual, Jesus, citing verses from the psalm in a specific context of deep distress. However, the New Testament verse as Jesus uses it very much maintains the meaning of what the Hebrew Bible says.

Jesus, like any faithful reciter of the psalm in a Jewish temple, is affirming his faith in the one God of the Jewish people as his protector and salvation. Though he had previously asked God why he had forsaken or cast him away, Jesus now resists the temptation to curse God. He comes back into the fold of Abraham and David, asserting his faith. He means that even though he has been tortured in a horrific way and is now about to die, he still turns to God with trust and for salvation. This is an important validation of the Jewish tradition.

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