New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 61:1

For the Chief Musician. For a stringed instrument. By David.
Hear my cry, God. Listen to my prayer-
David at this point was at the extremity of the land (:2), so it refers to his exile from the sanctuary at the time of Saul or Absalom.

Psa 61:2

From the end of the land I will call to You when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I-
Although this is a Psalm of David (:1) it clearly has reference to the captives who were located at "the end of the land" / eretz promised to Abraham. He feels his own mental ("heart") and physical ("rock") strength has been overwhelmed and so he throws himself upon God. We too are brought to realize our own lack of human strength so that we might more powerfully turn to God. The rock higher than David was ultimately God, but he may also have in view the rock of mount Zion. In Absalom's time, this would have been where the sanctuary was, which he so hankered to return to.

Psa 61:3

For You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy-
David often takes strength from God's previous deliverances to cope with whatever he was now facing (Ps. 61:3). This may sound natural, but in fact it isn't; because we are inclined to forget the great things He has done for us, as Israel did in the desert.

Psa 61:4

I will dwell in Your tent forever, I will take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah-
Clearly David longed to be back in the sanctuary. But he feels that he is in fact underneath the cherubim wings over the ark, with the glory of God above him and the blood of atonement beneath him. And he realized that whether or not in this life he ever got back to the sanctuary, he would eternally dwell in God's tabernacle.

Psa 61:5

For You, God, have heard my vows- Vows were made as promises to do things for God if He came through for you. So this still suggests that David was too works based in his attitude.

You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name- This seems another appeal to the promises to Abraham. The inheritance promised to Abraham's seed was to be experienced by David.

Psa 61:6

You will prolong the king’s life; his years shall be for generations- If this Psalm originally came from the wilderness years when David was not yet king, then this reflects his deep faith in Samuel's words that he should be king. Or if the Psalm has application to Absalom's rebellion and David's exile then, we could then detect an allusion to the promises to David in 2 Sam. 7. He saw that they implied his own eternity. Perhaps by "the king" he therefore has in view the Messianic king from his seed, rather than himself. The prospect of eternity, of the Kingdom established on earth, is for all believers the perspective on current exiles and rejections.

Psa 61:7

He shall be enthroned in God’s presence forever-
This surely alludes to the word in the promises to David that his throne would be established "in the presence" (2 Sam. 7:16). The translations tend to add "in your presence", but the grammar is indeterminate. It could as well mean in God's presence, and this is how David interprets it here in Ps. 61:7.

Appoint Your grace and truth that they may preserve him-
This prayer for the "king" in the third person may read strangely. Perhaps David speaks of himself as king in the third person because at the time he wrote the Psalm he was not actually king. Or if he has his future eternity in view, or that of his Messianic seed, that had also not yet begun. But he believed that "grace and truth", a term often used about God's promises, would bring about the fulfilment of those promises.

Psa 61:8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may fulfil my vows daily
- David's vision of eternity was praising God eternally, and every day of that eternity he would spend fulfilling the vows he had made to God in this life. Whilst his conception of "days" appears inappropriate to existence outside the space-time continuum, it is true enough that the nature of our eternity will to some degree reflect our visions of it now. If like David we have praise welling up within us and we seek to just express it far better, without the limitations of our humanity- then this is what our eternity will be like. We will not simply be "given" a form of existence, by God's sovereign choice; who we eternally shall be is who we desire to be in this life.