February 15, 2023
Thank you for praying each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival among us. As we pray, it is good to remind ourselves that prayer is an act of worship.
Dr. Derwin Gray is a former NFL player, a pastor, and the author of God, Do You Hear Me? He observes,
When we deduce prayer to be a mantra or a spiritual ATM or superstition, we’re really not praying. We’re actually using God and God doesn’t want to be used. God wants to be worshiped. Because when we worship, we become who we were created to be.
The book of Psalms is one of the most beloved books in the Bible. It is a collection of 150 poems and songs of praise, worship, and lament. The Hebrew name is translated “The Book of Praises.” In the canon of Hebrew Scriptures, it is divided into 5 books matching the 5 books of the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy).
It has been treasured by generations of people for its expression of deep emotions, ranging from joy and gratitude to sorrow and anger, and its relationship with God.
Dr. Henrietta C. Mears said, “Almost every aspect of humanity’s relation to God is depicted in the psalms: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to the Lord in times of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God.”
It would be impossible in one devotional to cover all the various types of psalms, so for today we will consider just one. Psalm 61:
1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David. Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2 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, 3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 4 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah 5 For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. 6 Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! 7 May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him! 8 So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.
This psalm is a prayer of distress, yet it opens with David’s boldness. He said, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer.” David’s voice was a familiar one in the courts of heaven. He was not a stranger to his God.
This is not presumption, disrespect, or arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s what we are exhorted to do by the Hebrew writer, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
David’s confidence enabled him to bare his soul before his God. He expressed his turmoil in verse 2, “From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.” It’s a place far away from any sense of human hope or help. When my heart is overwhelmed or anxious, at the end of our rope, or overcome by life, we are driven to our knees before God.
Most scholars feel that David was crying out to his God as he was fleeing his son Absalom’s rebellion. Head down. Heart broken. Knees trembling.
With his throne abducted, His kingdom was in disarray, and his family had turned their backs on him. In this devastating situation, David did the one thing, the only thing that really mattered at a time like this.
He cried to his God.
The imagery of the next few lines are most encouraging. First, God was the rock: “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Lord, I don’t know where you are in all of this. I don’t know which way to go. I don’t see you in my mess. So lead me to the Rock! Isaiah put it very well, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4).
Augustus Montegue Toplady, caught in a severe storm, found shelter in the gorge of Burrington Combe, back in 1763, which inspired him to write those beautiful words, “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”
The next three notable images are the refuge, the strong tower, and the tent (verses 2-4). And finally, the wings. This could mean a number of things, but is most likely a reference to the wings of the cherubim that hung on the curtains of the tabernacle veil, or the wings of the cherubim that formed the mercy seat over the ark of the covenant. This was the inner sanctuary, not just the tent, but the very holy of holies where His presence was.
Because of grace, this is the place where you and I live our lives.
In verse 5, David reflected on his past. He was looking back, and as he spoke with his God, “You have heard…You have given.” God has been faithful in the past; therefore, He can be trusted for what is to come.
With fresh appreciation for the faithfulness of God, he expressed his desire in verses 6 and 7, “Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!”
Notice how his language changed from the first person to the third person in these verses. Yes, he wanted to be back on the throne. Yes, he wanted to live a longer life, but David was thinking not just of himself, but the true King, the future King, our King: King Jesus, who one day would rule for ever and ever.
He looked forward to the glory of Christ. This is exactly what Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “When you pray, pray like this: “Our Father… your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Pray for the day when Christ will reign.
The closing sentiment in verse 8 is one of resolve: “So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.”
What was David saying? In view of His coming day of glory, I will continue, I will persevere, I will sing your praise, and I will perform my vows. I will continue, day after day to live for you.
May God help all of us all to live with this resolve.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel