Bible Commentary: Psalm 61 – Sarah Titus

Bible Commentary: Psalm 61 - Sarah Titus

As you read through the Psalms, in many passages, you get a very good indication of David’s heart during his massive trial of fleeing for his life from Saul, dealing with his son Absalom, and all that trouble that came with it.

His heart is very humble, as he is running for his physical life. And he seems to waver back and forth throughout the whole situation between fear and confidence, as any human would in his situation. 

Here though, we find him comforting himself with truth. Let’s take a closer look…

Psalm 61:1-8

David starts off in verse 1 being incredibly bold and direct with God. Hear my cry. I’m upset. I’m struggling. Lend your ear to me. Listen to my words. Take heed…stop what you’re doing to take notice of this, this is important.

And in verse 2, my favorite part of the chapter. From the end of the earth, I call to You when my heart is faint. 

This. is. absolute. wisdom.

Why? 

What is it that most men do when they are just completely out? Tired, drained, exhausted in spirit, spent. They look for help, but rarely from God.

They look for help in the form of an alcohol bottle to numb the pain. They look for help from syrupy words that many evangelist preachers on TV sputter out to get your money and allegiance. The ones who promise to take away your pain, your sorrows, even physically heal you. They promise to relieve your burdens and all they do is make you MORE comfortable in your sin and poorer.

Humans look to drugs. They try to solve their problems with sex, with overeating, and a myriad of other gods (!) but not THE true and Living God.

David here understands that. He understands all that other stuff is rubbish and goes to the ONLY suitable choice: God Almighty. When my heart is faint, he is saying, I know who to run to. I go to you!

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The rock here, meaning God. Lead me to you. God, YOU are higher than me. He’s agreeing with God, lining up his heart with God, fully admitting that God is supreme and sovereign. God is the ultimate. He’s #1. David is humbling himself before God.

In verse 3, he’s stating why. Why do I go to you, why do I trust you? Because you have shown yourself to be powerful. You’ve proven that what you say (you take care of your children), you do. It’s not fluffy empty words to get me through. You back up your Word with action. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced that love, that protection, that grace. You’ve been a refuge to me, a tower of strength. I’ve been able to hide in you and be safe and taken care of. YOU have done that. 

I love the rest of verse 3, “against the enemy”.

God makes sure to plug that in. We’re fighting here against an enemy. We’re NOT fighting other Christians. 

Listen to me very carefully. 

All genuine believers are on the same team. When you fight each other, you’re fighting your own team member and the other team, the enemy, looks at us and laughs at how stupid we are. And yet I see continual backbiting, gossip, Christians trying to destroy other Christians. 

Do you know that when you fight a brother or sister in Christ, you are fighting GOD?!

Listen, that’s not going to end well.

All day long I am attacked by Christians in various ways, in various situations. Protect yourself, of course, but never fight back a brother. Better to be slapped and take the offense and let GOD judge between you two, than to fight your own team member because when you do, you put yourself in direct opposition to God.

He WILL avenge His children. Are you SURE you’re right? How can you judge? You know not the entire situation, motives included. Take it to the Lord. Let HIM fight your battles for you. You remain innocent, blameless. Do not go around harming His children. If you do, YOU will be punished. 

I think about Kyle and the boys. They WILL be punished. How do I know? They are harming God’s child. But yet, I do not go back and fight them back or seek vengeance for myself. I wait patiently upon the Lord. HE will avenge me. HE will make things right. It’s my job to give it all over to Him to judge and vindicate me. 

In verse 4, he begins by asking, let me. He’s not demanding, pompous, arrogant, or entitled here. He’s asking. Please let me dwell in your tent, let me take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

It’s interesting the words that are chosen here. Your tent, your tabernacle, your holy space. 

To humans, a tent is a place to go camping in. God’s definition of a tent means something a bit different. Tent to God is translated “personality”,  “heart”, “soul”. The essence of who you are. 

Think about the men who sinned by taking treasures from the spoil of war and keeping them, as commanded not to (Joshua 7:21). They hid the treasures in their tent. And while that was a physical place, their tent, to God, this is saying, you hid sin within yourself. On the outside, everything looks okay but open the tent (the personality, the heart) and wickedness and disobedience abound. 

So from God’s point of view, David is saying, let me dwell in your personality. In your heart. Let me live in You. 

While God lives in us, via the Holy Spirit, we are ALSO to abide in Him. John 15:5 says “Whoever abides in me and I in him…” Notice the word AND in there. It goes both ways. We want to live in Him, fully rooted in His personality, in the essence of Who He is.

When we are rooted in Jesus, we are safe, protected, free, and happy. He is a part of us and we become a part of Him, close to Him, dwelling within Him. THIS is our safe place. 

Not a church building, not alcohol or food, but in the Person of Jesus Christ. We live within the shadow of His wings, within Him.

As if all of that wasn’t already a lot of jewels, this is where it starts to get good. Verse 5

You have heard my vows. He’s saying that when he prays God hears him, but I don’t think that’s all of it. There’s this sense of secrecy here. A whisper. A softened voice. An intimate moment between believer and Creator. You KNOW my vows. You’ve heard them, you’ve seen, you know what those secret vows are. At the end of verse 8, it says, “That I may pay my vows day by day.” 

Obviously, it would include obedience but as to what those specific vows are, it’s between David and God. The text doesn’t say what they are specifically or the words he used, at least not in this passage, so we don’t know. 

Are you ready for it to get good?

The second half of verse 5, you have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. 

He’s saying, you will make me king. The inheritance is the people. The people he will very soon rule over by God’s design. 

Then in verse 6, you will prolong the king’s life, His years will be as many generations. 

It is impossible to live your lifetime and several others also, as reincarnation is not Biblical. Rather, what David is referring to here is the remembrance of him. David will be remembered throughout many generations for several reasons. One is stated in the next passage. 

This “His years” person, in verse 7, is stated as “He will abide before God forever.”

There is only One man who has and can abide before God forever: Jesus. David knows Jesus Christ will come from His own lineage!!! How cool is that?! 

And my friends, THIS is where his confidence comes from. 

If you know that a MAJOR event, like the birth of Christ, was coming from your lineage, you wouldn’t fear death. If David dies, Jesus can’t be born* (!!), so for David, scared and running for his physical life, God has given him knowledge and wisdom to understand and more than that, to believe, that he will NOT die (it’s showing us the truth of Jeremiah 29:11).

*Please note: Jesus could still be born another way, just not through David’s lineage, and we get that. We understand God can sovereignly design Jesus’ birth in any way He wants to and doesn’t HAVE TO go through David, but that it’s His will for Jesus to be born through David’s lineage. 

God is saying, “Look, it may APPEAR like things are crazy and you will die but I have bigger plans. I want to use you, for a great kingdom one day”. 

David rests in that fact, and it’s how I can rest too.

Today, I’m behind on my mortgage over $65,000. My lender has started foreclosure on me. And while it’s a scary place to be, for sure, I know that if God forecloses on me, I won’t be able to start up a church that He wants me to start here locally.

We need THIS house, THIS living room that can easily hold 10+ people comfortably. He won’t foreclose on me. He will save me. Since I know what’s coming (in the future), as David knew of his future and God’s plan for him, I can rest even amidst the sudden terror of being foreclosed on.

The second reason David would be remembered for many generations is because his story would be told within a place that is unbreakable and will not die, the Bible. Something safely preserved generation to generation.

Whether or not David knew that He would be in the Bible is unknown, but he did understand his position in Christ and how God would use him and his lineage. That brought him comfort. It was enough to help him keep going in the midst of a massive trial.

Then the latter part of verse 7 – appoint lovingkindness and truth so that Jesus WILL be born and that we may preserve that lineage, so that your will may be done.

And verse 8, despite terror all around him, he found respite in the midst of it all.

So, I will sing praise to Your name. I can praise you in this storm. I can find comfort and relief in the face of amazingly tough trials.

Dear loved ones, if David can find comfort and joy in the midst of being on the run for His physical life, and I can find comfort knowing my God will save me despite being foreclosed on, then whatever it is you’re facing today, SO…CAN…YOU!!!!

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