Dear PRCW members and readers of this post: Life is hard. This is not a statement of complaint. It is not to say that there are never happy times or joyful time. But, in the grand scheme of things, in the realities of what our bodies, minds and souls deal with, life is hard. There are hardships with our health, our family’s health, with our job, with people, with relationships, with mechanical breakdowns. Etc. etc. It’s all due to the curse for sin which leads to death (Genesis 3).
How then do we deal with life, if it is so hard? What is our modus operandi? What makes us tick, when our bodies are weak, when we feel overwhelmed, when we can’t handle life single-handedly? What makes us work? Who do we trust? This is what Psalm 61 answers for us. It answers life’s basic questions – who, what, when, why and how. That’s how we’ll look at Psalm 61 as our mediation with those five questions:
[A. Who] Let’s start with that question: who? The first line says: “Hear my cry O God, attend to my prayer” Who is being spoken of here? Who is the Lord? He is “Yahweh” or LORD. The LORD who David prayed to is the same God that we pray to today when we put our faith in the living and Triune God. We speak to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. When David spoke these words, he had a far away feeling. He was feeling far from God. He also was very anxious. This is the whole reason why he spoke these words.
There are times when it may seem that God is far away. He may seem distant. But He is not. He is near to His people at all times. This is how you and I should apply these words to ourselves today – at least in our own circumstances. From time to time, perhaps often, you and I feel far from God. Or we’re afraid. When we do, we should remember what David did. He prayed to God.
[B. What] That brings us to another question… what? There are many things that are stated here. God is so great that any number of things would provide this point.
1. He is a rock. He is place higher than us – one whom we can turn to in times of trouble. This is what God is to His people who trust.
2. Furthermore, He is a refuge. The idea there is a shelter. A place to hide in the storm. It brings to mind the idea of a rock of refuge. The Psalms speak of this all over the place. “He is my rock of refuge,” Psalm 18; “my mighty rock, my refuge,” Psalm 62, “the rock in whom I take refuge,” Psalm 94 says
3. Moreover, He is strong tower. A strong tower is a refuge for people in times of attack from their enemies. We read in Proverbs 18:10 – “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.” The hymn Abide with Me says “When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”
4. But not only is God a strong tower. He is also a tent or tabernacle. This makes us think of the tabernacle sometimes called The Tent of Meeting. This is the Old Testament version of a church, a place of worship. This is also what God is to those who take refuge in Him. He is like their church when they can’t make it to church. God was His church. This is what God is to all those who trust in Him.
5. And then also we have the image of sheltering wings. God will protect and guide those who trust in Him just like a mother bird hovers over her young with her sheltering wings. Pure security then is found only in the Lord, abiding in His presence. He alone is eternal and unchanging.
[C. When] That brings us to another very important question: when? David said, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” When do we need God? We don’t just need Him when we feel desperate and are in trouble. We need Him always. We need Him every day, every moment.
Actually, David is very frank here. He is very honest. He knows he can’t face life all by himself. He readily acknowledges that someone is higher than him. Notice how he puts that there – “when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” It is natural to think of God being higher and greater than us when we are suffering some severe reverse of fortune – when we’re down and out. But when you think that you’re on the top, when you think that you’re in control, then we forget about God and consider ourselves strong enough. Well, that’s just not true. Reality is, we are dust. To dust you are and to dust you will return. We all are going to die someday. This is why we need to be led to this rock.
[D. Why] That brings us to the question: why? Why do we need this rock? Why do we need the Lord as our refuge, as our strong tower, as our tabernacle and as our sheltering wings? B/c without Him we are incapable of moving forward ourselves.
Life moves fast. Faster than we want it to sometimes. Our health can decline. Before you know it, your memory is failing. Your body is breaking down. Your mind starts to go. Or you can suddenly die. This is why the book of Ecclesiastes says “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” You need Him. You need Him today, if he isn’t your refuge or your high tower. He is a rock who is higher than us.
Life is a like a train that races down the tracks. It goes into to eternity.
We don’t always understand the “whys” of life. There are some mysteries that we can’t fully answer or to which we find satisfying answers. The more pressing question is: why do you need God?
You might have questions but are only seeking the answers here below. You have to look higher up. Do you?
[E. How] That brings us to the last question – how? How do we make God our refuge? The answer to this question is found in Jesus Christ. Making Him your refuge is the answer to life’s difficulties and hardships.
Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14).
The book of Hebrews says: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Christ is the one who gives us hope when all hope is gone. He is the Saviour who came to give His life for us. He died for our sins. He carried our sorrows. He died and rose from the dead so that we can say that in Him we have eternal life.
David knew where to turn to when he was troubled with the hard realities of life. We shouldn’t be discouraged to do the same. Never fear to be intimate with God. Just speak to Him. Tell Him what you are going through. Seek His Word.
As Alfred Tennyson, a poet, put it:
“Speak to Him, thou, for He hears,
And Spirit with Spirit can meet –
Closer is He than breathing and nearer
Than hands and feet.”
God’s hand is heavy on the world right now. He is reminding us of our frailty and that we’re not in control.
That leads to one more question: Have you been led to the rock that is higher than you? He is there for you, when life is hard.
Pastor Rich Anjema