Psalm 61 (Good News Translation)
Some Bible scholars have suggested that this psalm of David might come from the time of Absalom’s rebellion.
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer!
2 In despair and far from home I call to you! Take me to a safe refuge,
Psalm 61:2 (KJV)
When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart, emptied like when a man wipes a dish and turns it upside down, submerged and thrown on our beam-ends like a boat mastered by the storm. Discoveries of inward corruption will do this, if the Lord permits the depth of our depravity to become troubled and cast up mire and dirt. Disappointments and heartbreaks will do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like a broken shell thrown to and fro by the surf.
Blessed be God, at such seasons we are not left without a sufficient solace: Our God is the harbor of weather-beaten sails, the hostel for forlorn pilgrims. He is higher than we are, His mercy higher than our sins, His love higher than our thoughts. It is pitiful to see men putting their trust in something lower than themselves; but our confidence is fixed on an exceedingly high and glorious Lord. He is a Rock since He doesn’t change, and a high Rock because the tempests that overwhelm us roll far beneath His feet; He is not disturbed by them but rules them at His will. If we get under the shelter of this lofty Rock, we may defy the hurricane; all is calm under the lee of that towering cliff. Sadly, the confusion in which the troubled mind is often cast is such that we need piloting to this divine shelter.
Hence the prayer of the text. O Lord, our God, by Your Holy Spirit, teach us the way of faith; lead us into Your rest. The wind blows us out to sea—the helm does not answer to our puny hand; You alone can steer us over the bar between the sunken rocks and safe into the fair haven. We are totally dependent upon You—we need You to bring us to You. To be wisely directed and steered into safety and peace is Your gift, and Yours alone. Tonight be pleased to deal kindly with Your servants.
–Charles Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg
3 for you are my protector, my strong defense against my enemies.
4 Let me live in your sanctuary all my life;
“He saith not, I shall abide in my palace, but in thy tabernacle, which he more highly esteemed.”
–John Trapp, Puritan Bible scholar (1601-1669)
let me find safety under your wings.
HERE The Altar of Praise Chorale performs a traditional gospel hymn which draws from the metaphor of verse 4 — “Under His Wings.”
5 You have heard my promises, O God, and you have given me what belongs to those who honor you.
6 Add many years to the king’s life; let him live on and on!
7 May he rule forever in your presence, O God; protect him with your constant love and faithfulness.
8 So I will always sing praises to you, as I offer you daily what I have promised.
David began the Psalm desperately crying out to God with a heart that was fainting and overwhelmed. The song ends with praise, honoring God forever.
Scripture taken from the Good News Translation – Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society.