Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer Psalm 61:1 (ESV)
Have you ever wanted to get away from all your troubles? Ad agencies try to use this luring temptation to sell travel vacations to exotic islands and faraway places. Sometimes we are overwhelmed, and we long to escape the troubles that are chasing us.
We know from the records of David's life that he was on the run many times from his enemies who were trying to kill him. He longed to escape his enemies, to get away. David knew that the safest place was in God's presence, in his tent. He knew that only God could guide him so that he would be safe. In this psalm David prays to the Lord for protection from his enemies so that he may fulfill his vows to the Lord.
There are three distinct petitions in this psalm. First, David prays for God's guidance to a higher rock that is above his enemies and out of their reach (61:2). He also asks that he might dwell in the Lord's tent forever, that is in his tabernacle where his holy presence dwelt among his people (61:4a). Finally, he requests that he can take refuge under the protection of God's wings, a reference to how a baby bird finds shelter under its mother's wings (61:4b).
These three requests are so that David may praise God and fulfill his vows to him. David reminds God that he has heard David's vows (61:5), and so David prays for protection that he might fulfill them as he praises God's name (61:8).
What does this teach us about times when we want to get away from it all?
What this psalm reminds us is that only God can help find a way through difficult times. We need him to lead us to a rock that can give us rest from worry, fresh perspective of the troubles we face, and the wisdom to not be overcome by them. Faith in Christ Jesus is our rock. Through faith in Christ we receive the grace to overcome all of life's challenges.
Second, this psalm clarifies that the safest place is in God's presence, in his tent, where he can personally protect us like a mother bird protects her chicks. Abiding in God's presence we find protection and new strength.
I am reminded of the chorus from the song "In Your Presence" by Paul Wilbur.
In your presence, that's where I am strong;
In your presence, O Lord, my God;
In your presence, that's where I belong;
Seeking your face,
Touching your grace,
In the cleft of the Rock,
In your presence, O God.
The presence of God through his Holy Spirit becomes a shelter for us in our daily lives, our armor against the schemes of the evil one, our comfort when we feel like getting away from it all.
We may feel overwhelmed by troubles today. We may not know how we will get out of the circumstances we find ourselves in. God's word invites us today to ask God for his divine guidance and protection through his Son Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of his Holy Spirit.
It all begins with a cry for help, lifting up our prayer to the Most High God. He will hear and will save us just as he did the saints of old.
O God, I cry out to you in my time of need. I feel like I am surrounded by my troubles with no way out. Lead me to a higher rock so that I may see your perspective, so that I may gain new wisdom, so that I may find rest for my soul. Help me in this moment, O God, to know your presence. I seek you. May I discover that you are all that I need for every challenge that I face today. Amen.
"Under his Wings" (By William O. Cushing and Ira D. Sankey)
Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Tho the night deepens and tempests are wild;
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me and I am His child.
Under his wings, under His wings, Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort and there I am blest.
Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus I'm safe evermore.
To listen to a recording of this hymn click here.
To listen to a recording of "In Your Presence" by Paul Wilbur click here.