Scripture reading – Psalm 61

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The title of Psalm 61 is “To the chief Musician upon Neginah [a stringed instrument], A Psalm of David.” The setting of the psalm is unclear; however, the prayer indicates it was when the king faced grave danger. Perhaps, like preceding psalms, it was penned during the insurrection led by Absalom. Once again, the preserved Word of God makes us privy to David’s desperate cry to the LORD. I invite you to consider Psalm 61 in four parts. [Note: words in brackets indicate the amplification of this author.]

A Prayer for Divine Intervention (Psalm 61:1-2)

Assuming this psalm was inspired during the time the king fled from Jerusalem and was living in exile, David prayed:

Psalm 61:1-2 – 1Hear [Listen] my cry [pleading], O God [Elohim; Mighty God]; Attend [Incline; Listen] unto my prayer [petition; lament]. 2From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart [mind; inner man; will] is overwhelmed [weak; faint]: Lead [Guide] me to the rock that is higher [exalted; lifted up] than I.

Writing far from home, “from the end of the earth,” and his heart “overwhelmed” by his troubles, David cried to the LORD: “Lead [Guide] me to the rock that is higher [exalted; lifted up] than I” (Psalm 61:2). In a very real sense, the king prayed, Lord, take me higher, and to a safer place than I can go alone.


A Reflection on the Goodness and Faithfulness of the LORD in the Past (Psalm 61:3-4)

Psalm 61:3-4 – 3For thou hast been a shelter [refuge] for me, and a strong [fortified; mighty] tower [watchtower] from the enemy. 4I will abide [dwell; gather] in thy tabernacle [i.e., tent; the abode of the Ark of God] for ever: I will trust [seek refuge] in the covert [covering; hiding place] of thy wings. Selah.

Verses 3-4 of Psalm 61 have inspired many great songs and hymns of faith over the centuries. The words sprang from David’s reflections on the goodness of the LORD he had experienced. He was reminded that the LORD had “been a shelter [refuge]…and a strong [fortified; mighty] tower [watchtower] from [his enemies]” (Psalm 61:3).

Think about that truth for a moment. In a time of trouble, you can, like David, take comfort in the assurance that the LORD is waiting to be your shelter, refuge, and strong tower. Knowing the faithfulness of the LORD, the king resolved he would forever abide in His presence (61:4), trust Him to shelter, and cover him as a hen protects her chicks.

An Assurance that God Hears and Answers Prayer (Psalm 61:5-7)

Psalm 61:5-7 – 5For thou, O God [Elohim; Mighty God], hast heard [listened to] my vows: Thou hast given [set; placed] me the heritage [inheritance; possession] of those that fear [revere] thy name [fame; reputation]6Thou wilt prolong the king’s life [days]: And his years as many generations [i.e., generation after generation]7He [the king] shall abide [dwell] before God for ever: O prepare [reckon; assign; count] mercy [favor; goodness; kindness] and truth [trustworthiness; faithfulness], which may preserve [guard; keep; watch] him [i.e., the king].

What began as a solemn and passionate petition for the LORD to hear the king’s prayer (Psalm 61:1-2) continued with him being comforted that God hears and answers prayers! David reflected on his godly heritage and that he was of a people who feared and revered the LORD (Psalm 61:5b). No longer fearing for his life, David asserted with confidence, “6Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: And his years as many generations [i.e., generation after generation]” (Psalm 61:6). He believed the LORD would, in His mercy and truth, keep watch over him (Psalm 61:7)


A Renewed Consecration to Worship and Serve the LORD (Psalm 61:8) 

Psalm 61:8 – 8So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, That I may daily perform [fulfill; complete] my vows [promises].

David’s thoughts were no longer bound by his troubles but were refocused on the LORD and His faithfulness. His spirit was renewed, and he resolved to sing and praise the LORD forever and keep all he had vowed to do.

Closing thoughts –

What about you? Where do you turn in a time of trouble or heartache? Where do you go for encouragement when you find yourself in a hard place? I fear many wait to turn to the LORD as a last resort.

Some reading today’s Scripture and this devotion might find your “heart is overwhelmed” (Psalm 61:2). I urge you to follow David’s example and cry to the LORD. If fears beset you, confess them to the LORD. Remember, He is waiting to lead you to a “rock that is higher” than you will ever reach alone (Psalm 61:2c). If you need a hiding place, seek the LORD. He will be for you what He was for David, “a shelter” and “a strong tower” (Psalm 61:3). He wants to shelter you under His wings (Psalm 61:4).

I close with the words of the 19th-century poet William Orcutt Cushing:

“Oh, safe to the Rock that is higher than I,  

My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly,

So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be,

Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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