Hear My Cry, O God
By Erik Retallick
“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.
It is believed by some that Psalm 61 was written by David when he fled during the attempted coup on his reign by his son Absalom, who came to a tragic end. You can read the historical account of these sad events during David’s reign in 2 Samuel chapters 14-18. It was specified that Psalm 61 should be set to an accompaniment of the string instruments in use at that time, the music being composed by the chief Choirmaster or one of his colleagues.
The Jewish Talmud indicates that the Levites, who were the tribe to whom musical responsibility was given, usually played cymbals for keeping the rhythm and timing, 9 soprano harps for playing the melody and bass harps for providing a bass line (see 1 Chronicles 25:1,6).
For special services a larger orchestra would be used, as can be seen in 2 Chronicles 25:12-13, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought up from Zion to the Temple.
Have you ever felt like crying out to God for help in your life, like David must have felt when his son turned against him with an army of rebels? In extreme circumstances, like David, some of us may have experienced fear, the desire to run away and find somewhere to hide.
In fact, when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, cities of refuge were set up, where people could run to, if they had accidentally killed someone (Joshua 20). They had been instructed to do this by God speaking through Moses, (Numbers 35:9-15). There were 3 cities in the land of Canaan and 3 beyond the Jordan, where they could run to and know they would be taken in and given protection from those pursuing them.
Although we may sometimes find refuge in life in a particular location, we know that in the spiritual battles and warfare in which we are involved, a spiritual refuge is required. This is what David discovered in his experience and expresses so effectively in this Psalm.
He has already fled to another location, so far away from home where his life was in jeopardy, that it seemed to him he had gone to the very end of the earth. Doing this has worn him out and his heart feels faint within him, he is lacking in courage and not knowing where he can go next.
This leaves him only one option, and that is to allow himself to be led to the rock that is higher than him, to the very heart of God Himself.
This is apparently not the first time that David has taken refuge in the Lord, because he goes on to say that the Lord has been his refuge and strong tower (or fortress) against the enemies who came against him in the past. There were many close encounters, with a bear, lion, Goliath, Saul and many others who came against him.
We can see with hindsight that God would protect David, because it was through the line and House of David that the Messiah, our Savior Jesus was to be born, to deliver us from our sins, the world, the flesh and Satan himself.
He also overcame the last enemy, death itself, demonstrated by His glorious Resurrection. Therefore, although of course he didn’t know it fully at the time, David’s battle to retain his kingdom had already been won, victory was his because he put his faith and trust in God. Having experienced victory in the past, He knew that by taking refuge under the wings of the Almighty, he would be safe and secure.
Are you facing battles in your life today, for example with relationships, addictions, anxiety, fear, or uncertainty about your future? If so, there is a hope, refuge and place of safety if you will only run to Him. Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus, believing that He died to save you and deliver you from your sins?
David’s desire was also to dwell in God’s tent, forever. Those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus are given the assurance in their hearts by the love of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit that they will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What a wonderful prospect and future lies ahead of us if we are followers of and take refuge in Him, the rock that is higher than us. Like David, in Psalm 23:6, we can say or sing, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
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