During my years as a pastor, I had the privilege of visiting the sick in the hospital. I vividly remember meeting with an elderly man from our congregation who was nearing the end of his life. I asked if we could pray together. He began by praying the words of this psalm as if they were his own, “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” (vv. 1–2).
We do not know the precise situation David was in when he wrote this psalm, but he was clearly in distress. He felt far from God and longed to experience His presence and hand of blessing again. Throughout this poem, David uses rich metaphors to describe God. He calls God “the rock that is higher than I,” a “refuge,” and a “strong tower” (vv. 2–3). In a world filled with danger, being in God’s presence is safer than any castle or stronghold.
In verse 4, David describes his desire to live in the tabernacle, where God’s presence was most manifest in ancient Israel. He prays, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (v. 4). Even in his distress, David is confident that God can hear him and that He cares (v. 5). For David, God was never more than a prayer away.
In verses 6–7, David prays for the king. He asks that God would protect him with His covenant love and faithfulness (v. 7). David understood that in his office as king, he represented both Israel as a nation and the future hope of a descendant on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7:11–16). This allows him to end his prayer on a note of hope and praise.
>> In his distress, David found hope. He clung to the promise that one day a Davidic king would be “enthroned in God’s presence forever” (v. 7). Give thanks today that we share in that hope. We can “set [our] hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
Lord, we thank you for the beautiful Messianic prophesy of Psalm 61. David saw ahead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the coming of the Eternal King—the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1).