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Friday, June 10, 2016


"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.  Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!" 
Psalm 61:1-4

Every time that we begin to feel strong and self-sufficient, we are brought to our knees by a powerful blow in our earthly life. The Lord allows us to be reminded that there is no more magnificent ROCK than the ROCK of our Lord in Whom we find refuge and strength. Let us lean upon "the ROCK that is higher than I."

O sometimes the shadows are deep,
And rough seems the path to the goal,
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul!

O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

O sometimes how long seems the day,
And sometimes how weary my feet;
But toiling in life's dusty way,
The Rock's blessed shadow, how sweet!

O near to the Rock let me keep,
If blessings or sorrow prevail;
Or climbing the mountain way steep,
Or walking the shadowy vale.

We are, at times, exhausted and overwhelmed by sorrows, valleys of sufferings, doubt, confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness.   An array of circumstances may bring us to this state of despair, and we don't know what to do.  We may feel insecure and exhausted by the loss of a loved one, or a severe illness, loss of health, financial catastrophe, enemies that seem to be stronger than we are.  God appears to wait as we struggle, reaching the limits of our ability.  We wonder if our faith can bear anymore.  Every escape route is blocked, with no way out.  Christ is our Rock during times of shadow and sorrow, for He is our rock of strength (Ps. 62:1-7).

Helpless, hopeless, and with no one to turn to for understanding, comfort, guidance, or help, some spend their lives alone. Others are surrounded by unfeeling family members, perhaps because they are not Christians and resent the believer’s convictions and lifestyle. Others have simply grown old, and all their friends and relatives have died. Whatever the cause, many know what it is like to have no one to whom they can turn for understanding.  David wrote this beautiful Psalm 61 when he was a king over all Israel.  Yet David acknowledged that he desperately needed God, for there were times he felt very alone and distressed. 

The purpose of our struggles is to teach us not to trust in ourselves but in God alone.  The good news is that God provides us a special shelter.  

  • Jesus Christ is that Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock that Moses smote was a type of Christ.
  • In Deut. 32:4, 18 Jehovah is "our Rock."
  • That  Rock is the "Stone cut not with hands." (Daniel 2:45)
  • That Rock a symbol of God's strength, a place of shelter, and a place of defense.

In James 1:2-4, we are told that we need to appreciate trials so that we might realize how wonderful salvation, eternal life, and our relationship with Jesus is, a beautiful relationship where we are forgiven and can call upon God for help at any time.  When we feel that we are at "the end of the earth," far away from communion with God or man, it is at that point that we realize that we need the Rock that is higher and greater than we are that we might find refuge and protection.

I.   “When my heart is overwhelmed (faint)”:  (61:2)

All Christians, like David, experience times in their lives when they lack courage, motivation, or just the necessary strength.  By no means does this imply that we are failing or have done something wrong; rather, it is often a reminder that we simply need to draw nearer to our God for strength. We must always remember that being a Christian is not a charm against every threat that might discourage and frighten us. 

This Psalm reminds us that when our heart is faint, overwhelmed, or weak, we need to pray fervently to draw strength from our Rock.

II.   “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”:  (61:2)

Our Lord is a mighty Rock for us. This idea often occurs in the book of Psalms, appearing twenty times. It will occur in the 63rd Psalm, three times, and is found in Psalm 18 four times.   It is when we are suffering from despair, finding ourselves down and out, that we come to realize that our God is higher or greater than we are.  We then realize that we need God.  Sadly, when we find ourselves on top, as David was at this time (he was the king of all Israel, after all), we forget about God, believing that we can tackle any need that can arise.  But David never made this mistake. He never forgot that God was extremely higher and above him and that he needed God always.  And though Israel may have looked to David as their rock, David looked to a rock that was higher than he.

III.  “Lead me”:

Clearly, the Word of God, will “lead us” to this Rock (Romans 10:17).  David expressed his gratitude for difficult times, times when he felt like he was at the “end of the earth;" times that reminded him of his absolute need for God. The Old Testament overflows with examples of men (Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel), who trusted God when far from home, during times when they found themselves aliens and unsettled.  Often we find ourselves overwhelmed because of so much false religion that appears to be overly resistant to God's Truth.  But it is then that we must realize and remind ourselves that the Rock that is higher than we are is there as well.  Therefore, we must not lose heart!

IV.  For you have been my refuge”:  (61:3)

David had experienced God's safety by walking with Him.  He likewise allowed himself to learn that God can be trusted with our security and shelter. We are safe under God's wings!

V.   “Refuge under the shelter of your wings.”

This psalm addresses a fundamental need, the need to feel “safe.” David did not make the mistake of placing his sense of security in earthly things, an earthly army, a large chariot force, or an earthly fortress. In fact, God even had forbidden the kings that would rule His people from “multiplying horses” (Deuteronomy 17:16); that is, placing their trust in a large chariot force. Sadly many feel safe putting their faith in material riches, possessions, human relationships, and so on. They soon learn that all these things are not as “safe” or “permanent” as they pretend to be. In fact, Jesus noted the extreme insecurity of all earthly things (Matthew 6:19). In another Psalm, David said, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in Thee; And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by” (Psalm 57:1).  What a beautiful picture of our God as our wings of refuge in perilous times!

VI.  The Blessings:

God says that a relationship with Him is our refuge. He is our place of safety. He provides the following benefits:

  • He offers us safety, comfort, shelter, and peace rather than the torment of focusing on our problems.
  • Respect and reverence for Him remove all lesser fears when we listen to His counsel.
  • He helps us to see our problems with the right perspective. They are not insurmountable (hopeless and overwhelming).
  • He offers us a unique relationship that removes distracting worries, energizes us, strengthens our resolve, calms our concerns, and helps us focus on what we can do at the moment (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • We are often rewarded with the ability to see the blessings of our trials (Philippians 1:12).


Psalm 61:1-4 is a prayer that describes David's days when he was fleeing from Saul.  Verse 5:  "For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name."  This was a time when David was king and realized that God had answered all of his prayers for refuge, shelter, safety, and protection.  As a king, David also ruled over those who fear God; these were the ones he had shepherded.  David prayed that God would preserve his life (61:6) as well as watch over those that ruled in the future, a rule that would eventually result in Jesus' ruling over the faithful (2 Samuel 7:12).

God is our perfect "fort, our stronghold."  He is the only refuge where we can be protected from everything.  There are circumstances in our life because of our difficulties and hardships (Ps. 38:6) that make our days seem so long and leave us very weary (Ps. 69:1-3).  And though we're toiling in life's dusty way  (as Israel did when they were wandering in the wilderness toward Canaan), we can still eat and drink from the spiritual Rock (Christ) that followed them (1 Cor. 10:1-4).   Christ is our Rock on whom we can build our lives (Matt. 7:24-27).  Christ, our Rock, helps us when sorrows prevail (1 Pet. 5:7).  Therefore, we must seek refuge in that Rock, which is Christ.  

"O, then, to the Rock let me fly, To the Rock that is higher than I; O, then, to the Rock let me fly, To the Rock that is higher than I."  

So as we travel our journey in the desert of this life, with all its hardships, toils and sorrows, let us always look for refuge to "The Rock that Is Higher than I."

May we all come to our place of refuge, strength, and defense, in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post. It was good to focus my thoughts on what is truly our rock, defense, comfort
    and shelter by reading your blog.