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Weds 30 November - Psalm 61

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.

- - -

Meditation on Psalm 61

This is the first of four psalms that are linked together by a common thread of a strong recognition of trusting God in all situations. 

Each of these psalms are penned by David. Psalms 61 and 63 refer to ‘the king’.  


We don’t know the occasion in David’s life which brought him to write this psalm. 


Matthew Henry introduces Psalm 61 with the following:

‘David, in this psalm, as in many others, begins with a sad heart, but concludes with an air of pleasantness, begins with prayers and tears, but ends with songs of praise.’ 





‘Not again’ you might be forgiven for thinking. David is down in the dumps again. He always seems to be in trouble.

Or perhaps you are a little more sympathetic towards him as he tells us exactly how he is feeling. 

One thing we can say about David is that he was open and honest about his situation and that’s why, being overwhelmed, he called out to God – “Hear my cry…” and “Listen to my prayer.”

Maybe you have been, or are, in a situation where you cry out to God, where you plead with Him to listen to your prayer.
Maybe you are, or have been, in a situation where you cannot cry out to God, where you struggle to even talk to Him.
Maybe you are leaving it to others to pray for you. As we have shared before, that’s a great testimony to the friendships and fellowship we have with fellow Christians.

Remember Moses – when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, Moses sent Joshua with ‘chosen men’ to go and fight. Moses went to the top of the hill and lifted up his hands in prayer to God. When his hands got tired, Aaron and Hur found a stone so that he could sit on it and they each held his hands up, one on one side, one on the other.

Exodus 17:8-13. Whose hands could you hold up?


For David, it felt as if he were ‘at the ends of the earth’ and his heart was failing. He was, as we might say today, at the end of his tether. Maybe, that’s how we feel today, but…

David called out to God because he knew from his previous experiences that God would hear and answer. David longed for safety and security but he couldn’t reach that on his own. Hence the prayer, ‘Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.’ 

So many of the psalmists have referred to God as their ‘rock of refuge’.

Come back to Moses who longed to have a face-to-face meeting with God. God told him that wouldn’t happen but He gave him a place of safety. “There is a place near where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by…”

For Moses, that day, God found him a place of refuge, of safety and security.


In 1890 Fanny Crosby wrote this hymn. Here’s the first verse and chorus.

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,  

a wonderful Saviour to me.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,

Where rivers of pleasure I see.


He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

that shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my soul in the depths of His love,

And covers me there with His hand. 


For us, today, we identify our ‘rock of refuge’ as the Lord Jesus and, by the Spirit of God, we have been brought to Him.




David was overwhelmed by his present situation but confident in God because of past blessings and future promises.


God has never failed him and He is not about to go down that path.

God has been his refuge all along. There are many psalms where the psalmist says ‘He is my refuge.’
Two examples – notice the present tense: 

Psalm 46:1 ‘God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’

Psalm 91:2 ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’


God has been his strong tower. This is a place of safety against the enemy. Remember the chorus from Proverbs 18:10?

‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower,

The righteous run into it and they are safe.’


And because of David’s experiences of God, he now longs to stay close to God, to enjoy His presence and to be protected as under the shelter of His wings.’


God knows the promises David has made. He knows the promises I have made – that’s a challenge for each of us.

In God’s amazing mercy and grace we have been brought into the family of God. Our heritage, as was David’s, is to be with God’s people, both now and throughout all eternity.


We can sing with assurance and thanksgiving the song written by Robert & Dawn Critchley, the chorus of which says, ‘What a faithful God have I, faithful in all His ways.’


He is our rock, our refuge, our strong tower, our shelter, our protector and, through our relationship with Jesus, God is our Father.    



As the psalmist prays for the king, he may have been thinking about his own reign as king. Remember that Samuel had anointed him king long before Saul died. Perhaps this prayer was written when David was being chased by Saul. Perhaps it was written when David was being chased by Absalom.

In both situations, David knew that he was going to be crowned king or had

 been crowned king, even if his present circumstances didn’t seem to echo that.

But we also see this as a prophetic psalm, looking forward to Jesus, the King of kings.

We come to Calvary and see Jesus on the Cross, His life being taken from Him. We know that God answered David’s prayer when He raised Jesus from the dead – ‘increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations.’

We also know that Jesus went back to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God – ‘enthroned in God’s presence forever.’

Spurgeon picks up the last phrase and comments – Eternal love and immutable faithfulness are the bodyguards of Jesus’ throne.’



From pleading to praising, David has come a long way as he declares a life of praise and commitment.


So too, we come before the throne of grace. We plead for mercy and for forgiveness and we commit ourselves to singing His praises and fulfilling our promises.


(Roger  Purdom)


New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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