Have you ever been down in the dumps? Really down in the dumps? Depressed? If not, you can safely skip this blog for today and move on to other things.
For the rest of the human race, we live, it seems, from storm to storm. A pessimist could reduce our existence as moving from valley to valley. An optimist would describe it as moving from mountain top to mountain top. Both, realistically, are true.
The beauty of Scripture (among many things) is it doesn’t gloss reality. Sometimes life is the pits.
This is where David is in Psalm 61.
You Hear Me (Verses 1-4)
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
This should be our first response when a storm blows in and turns our world upside-down: pray! Even as David’s heart grows tired and weary—his soul hurts—he prays for guidance “to the Rock that is higher than I”. Focus on that for a little bit: our Lord is a Rock. Immovable, unshakable, rooted, secure, safe—this is the stability of our Rock. However, this Rock is not deaf. He is not immune to our cries for help.
This was David’s confidence. “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer…I call..lead me…” David knew the Lord would hear him. This was his confidence. Is this our confidence when we pray?
Prayer is not going to God (he’s already in you), or seeking God (he’s already found you), or opening yourself to God (you couldn’t keep him out if you tried), or becoming spiritual (he’s already sent you the Spirit — who would rather show you Jesus than help you display your spiritual prowess). And it’s certainly not buttering God up with abject apologies for your existence — because in his Beloved Son, he already thinks you’re dandy. Prayer is just talking with Someone who’s already talking to you.
Robert Farrar Capon, The Foolishness of Preaching (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998), 68.
You Answer Me (Verses 5-8)
5 For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. 6 Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. 7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. 8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
David knew God was already moving and acting even before he prayed. The Lord, indeed, heard his vows. The request David makes in verses 6-7 are a request to ask God to do what He already promised to do for David (2 Samuel 7). Yet King David never received the freedom from war for which he usually prayed. Even David’s children and grandchildren did abysmal jobs in carrying on the faith David gave them. David’s prayer has far-reaching implications…very far. Our Deliverer was bound up in the promises the Father made to King David. Jesus came from David’s lineage. It serves as a great reminder: when prayer is answered, it is rarely (if ever) in the way we expect.
David praised the Lord’s name and fulfilled his vows even as the answers he sought were so elusive. Some of the answers never came in his lifetime, yet the legacy of worship and faithfulness to God spans the Psalms.
When you call, God is already answering. Are you listening?