As a lament, Psalm 61, though very short, is one of the more beautiful, and one of the better known hymns that come from it is “The Rock that is Higher than I” (verse 2). Most scholars believe that this psalm was written during the time of Absalam’s conspiracy and David’s flight from Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15-18). It is viewed as an individual lament, as David is asking the Lord to “hear my cry” (verse 1) and “prolong the life of the king” (verse 6).
But as short as it is, it obviously is more than that, and it is easy to see why it has been popular for so long as both a congregational song and morning prayer. Consider verse 2 “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.” Then consider verse 5: “you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.”
That heritage is the covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7 – that of our Lord Jesus coming through the Davidic line. The rest of verse 6 and verse 7 cinch it, as David finishes his prayer making it obvious that it was written after that covenant was made: “Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God…”
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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