READ PSALM 61 & 62
Developing a liturgy of supplication and submission is hard work. At this point in the study, you’re likely settling into the rhythm we’ve developed over the last few weeks: submit our requests to God with genuine earnestness, and submit ourselves to God’s ultimate character and authority. And I want to give you a word of encouragement here: if you’ve found this painfully difficult over the last few weeks, as I have, but have consistently chosen to persist, that habit is forming you each and every day. As we choose the things that are difficult, persevere in doing the hard work of forming new habits, we build new life liturgies. When the work is hard – and maybe especially when the work is hard – God is forming and reforming us to be people who practice supplication and submission.
This week we are focusing our study on Psalm 61 and 62. We don’t know when Psalm 61 was written (like we did with last week’s study), but we do know that it was written by David.
Read Psalm 61. What are the major themes you identify in this Psalm?
Consider what you know of David’s life. What type(s) of situations could he be referencing here?
David wastes no time bringing his supplication before God. Elsewhere, we have had to dig to discover what David is asking of God, doing exegetical and contextual work to understand his request. Here, that is not the case. David needs salvation. He needs protection from his enemy. As we saw last week, this protection is likely not hypothetical. At many times in his life, David has been in physical, tangible danger. He has been on the run from an angry king who seeks to hurl a spear at him! Truly, David needs physical salvation.
David exclaims to God, “I’m calling to you from the ends of the earth!” What do you think this means?
David has been on the run for so much of his young life. Saul has chased him across the country, through foreign territory, and through unoccupied territory. And David calls out to God, “I’m at the end! I’ve run to the ends of the earth! Would You, God, hear my plea?”
Have you ever felt like you have come to the end, wondering if God would hear your prayer from the small corner of the earth in which you find yourself?
David knows something we would do well to remember: no matter where we go, how far we’ve run, or where we find ourselves, God hears our prayer! We can be in the middle of the desert with no cell phone service or flare to send up for help, but God hears us.
David tells God that his heart is faint. What do you think this means?
David is utterly exhausted. He is weary and his heart is heavy. When he surveys his inner life, he finds his heart is failing. He is at the end of the earth, and his heart is faint within him.
What does David ask of God in response?
David asks God to be four things to him in verses two through four. What metaphors does he use of God?
We have the joy of doing a little literary structure work here in verses two through four! David, with a faint heart and likely in the middle of nowhere, is calling to God and asking for salvation. And he asks God to be four things to him in a progressive sequence: a rock, a tower, a tent, and sheltering wings.
Consider each of the four metaphors. What is David asking of God by appealing to each metaphor?
David starts by asking God to be a rock for him to climb to. In our mind’s eye we can see David being lifted above flood waters, as he climbs onto the peak of an unreachable mountain. David wants God to be a high place of safety and security, a rock that will keep him safe.
Then, David asks God to be a tower that protects him from his enemies. More secure than a rock, the tower of God is his safety and shelter where David can take refuge and find sanctuary. We can imagine David feeling finally protected in a stone structure, one which his enemies cannot conquer.
Next, David asks God to be as a tent where he can dwell. More flimsy than a tower, this request might seem odd and less secure. But in David’s culture of the ancient near east, dwelling in a tent with someone implied a deep friendship. You wouldn’t go into someone’s tent – not to mention live there – unless you were dear friends. David is asking God, “Be my friend who will keep me secure!” More than a tower of defense, David wants to dwell among the tents of friends who have his back and who will fight for him because they love him – and he wants God to be such a friend.
Lastly, David concludes by asking God to cover him with his sheltering wings. This is the most intimate metaphor David could use in this situation! Mother hens, when they fear for the safety of their chicks, gather them under their wings. There her young ones are safe, tucked right next to her breast. No harm can come to her children without harm coming first to herself. David is asking God, “Be as a mother to me, tuck me next to your breast, keep me safe and close to your chest.”
Do you see the progression of intimacy David proclaims to God? As his prayer progresses, so does his supplication – God, don’t just keep me safe, tuck me under Your arm and close to Your heart! David knows that being kept safe is not the ultimate goal, but gaining a deeper intimacy with the Lord is of ultimate value.
Are there places in your life in which you are asking for practical safety or provision from God where God might be inviting you to ask Him for deeper intimacy with Him instead?
What would it look like for you to grow in prayer as David did?
PRAY & REFLECT
Supplication: Tell God about your needs. Ask Him to be your provider.
Submission: Allow your prayer to move from asking for provision to asking for deeper intimacy with God, no matter what the outcome of your specific situation.