Commitment for Time and Eternity

The Jewish morning begins with the “Modeh Ani” (“I thank”) prayer, which expresses the worshiper’s gratitude for another day of life.

Translation: “I thank Thee, living and eternal King, for Thou hast mercifully restored my soul within me; Great is Thy faithfulness.”

The presumption here is that worshipers entrusted their spirit to the Almighty for safe-keeping the previous evening. Many observant Jews use the phrase, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:5) at the end of their evening prayers. The entire Psalm reads:

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
Be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

It is interesting that verse 5 is the same verse that Jesus cried out while dying on the cross (Luke 23:46).  It is highly likely that Jesus, in his agony, was reciting this part of the psalm from memory as He faced the greatest challenge of His incarnate life.

The Hebrew word translated “commit” in verse 5 has a meaning that is much closer to “I deposit” – which necessarily signifies a future “reclaiming” of the thing deposited. In Hebrew the unequivocal meaning of this verse is the temporary submission of one’s spirit into the hands of God – giving it into “His custody,” with the definite intention of receiving it back. 

It makes perfect sense that Jesus would quote this particular psalm while hanging on a Roman cross.

The original verse from Psalm 31: 5 Jesus was reciting from Hebrew, gives a simple, but significant insight into the words of Jesus on the cross. The words Jesus uttered were nothing less than a declaration of His great Israelite faith.  He was confident that as He deposited His soul into the hands of His Heavenly Father, He would surely get it back at his resurrection. What happened three days after His death proved that Jesus did not hope in vain.