From My Soul Waits
Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I. (v. 2)
The psalmist is distraught, and it appears that what weighs upon his heart is the overwhelming sense of distance he feels between himself and God. “From the ends of the Earth will I call upon thee,” he cries, (v. 2). His sense of dejection is not unfamiliar. “Where is God?” we ask miserably, when God’s ways are dark and our days seem devoid of his presence. At the end of our tether we are quick to feel that God has removed himself from us, that he stands at a distance, that perhaps he has even forgotten us. Psalm 61 is a prayer for just such an occasion.
If this is in fact a prayer of David the king (see verse 6), there must have been many times he felt alone under the weight of his office – as there would be for any leader. The clouds of duty and responsibility, the storms of conflict and even war must have obscured the brightness of God’s presence. Nevertheless, the king knew where to turn – to whom to turn – in such times. When his own strength was depleted, when all hopeful vision and strength of will failed, the psalmist – like all of us – cried. He shed his tears before the Lord. In a few succinct phrases, he likens God to a high rock upon which he can stand, a tower in which he can find refuge, a tent in which he can dwell in safety, and wings under which he can find covering, (vv. 2-4). Any one of these images can give consolation to a fearful heart. Put together, they describe a God strong enough and present enough to help the king under any circumstances.
Once the psalmist makes his petition, he can make his promise. Despite how he feels, he knows that he is not alone. He knows God is ever-present to help and to hide him. Therefore he says with a newfound confidence that he will live before God forever, singing praise to God’s name, and that he will fulfill his vows (probably referring to his coronation).
Being devoid of personal strength, he can rely on the strength of God and recommit himself to God’s service. Even as he looks for God’s steadfast love to be his help, he promises his own steadfast commitment to be God’s servant, (vv. 7-8). In Psalm 61, renewed dedication accompanies fervent intercession.
From The Fathers
The Lord says, “I shall build my church on this rock, and the gates of the lower world shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18). Although the gates of the devil strike against it, yet they do not overthrow Christ’s church; although the floor of faithlessness inundates it, it does not undermine the house of faith. For the church is able to say truthfully to its helper, “When my heart was disquieted, you raised me up on a rock.” (Bede)
My faith is anything but rock-solid, Lord.
My hope is equally fickle.
And my love is probably the least reliable thing of all.
Rock of all the ages – of all my ages –
Fix my faith and my hope and my love on Thee.