Every day there are people who make the most desperate cries for help. The cry is not limited to any particular age group but it is most sad when it comes from children and teens who long for someone to listen. To get the attention of others they attempt to take their own lives. Every day countless people pass by us, just wanting to know if someone cares enough to listen to them, to share a bit of time to help them through the loneliness, discouragement, or despair. Every day.
In Psalm 61 we can read of such a person; a man who needed someone to listen to his weakening cry. On the surface his life gave every indication that all was well. He lived in a big house, had plenty of money, many servants, a loving wife, important work. He was a man most envied. Many longed to be him. He was a king over a powerful, world-shaping kingdom. And, he was tired.
His name was David and in this psalm he cried out to God with a simple plea, “Hear my cry.” Take a moment and read Psalm 61. If you’re having a good day store up the truths found within for a rainy one. If your day is less than desirable than know this psalm was written for you. You do not have to be a king to share in his pain or borrow his words.
In his desperation David cried out to God, “Hear my cry, O God.” (v.1) If David would have been greater than God then the word “hear” would be a command. But he knows that God is the greater so the word is a plea. David also desires God to hear his “cry”. This is not a boisterous complaint but rather a ringing call, a sorrowful wailing. David was in deep need.
“Listen to my prayer,” David says (v.1). The word to listen is more than just hearing the sound. The king wants God to hear with attentiveness and understanding. It is this type of listening that moves one to take the right action at the right time.
You understand what David is saying don’t you? He has tapped into your day, read your mail, said to God what you’ve always wanted to say but was not sure you could or should. Well, you can. God knows your deepest sorrows and your direst needs and He welcomes your voice.
David does not tell the reader his problem but he does share the scope of it. “From the ends of the earth…my heart grows faint…lead me to a rock that is higher than I” (v.2). David felt as if he was all alone in a distant and strange place. He was tired. He said his “heart” was tired.
In Hebrew thought, the heart was the center of the will. Perhaps David feared that his resolve to remain faithful to God was weakening and that scared him. So the king longed to go to a safe place, a place that could protect him better than he could protect himself. He wanted to inhabit the high ground, out of reach of the enemy. He reiterated this plea in verse three, “For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against my enemies.” David cried out to God because in the past God had been all that he needed. He protected him from the onslaught of life, the cruel attack of the enemy.
David took his desire a step closer to God. More than just a high, safe place, David wanted to be in God’s place; he said he “longs to dwell” where God is (v.4). The king’s heart was driven to be where God was, to be with God. He sought safety in the “shelter of Your wings.”
Again King David expressed what so many want to experience. He knew that being with God was being in the safest place. With God, life cannot devastate you for God has dominion over all that life is and all it can deal out.
David was a powerful man but he knew he was not strong enough. He also knew that God was. We, as well, must know that God is more than strong enough.
The king knew that God heard his cries and gave him both a present hope and a future: “For You have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name” (v.5). Do you know that God will do the same for you?
Before this song closes David received what he longed for. God touched his day with His presence and care. Rather than feeling threatened and stymied, David knew his life with God would move him forward (v.6). He knew he would not only hide under God’s wing but sit in His presence, and be protected by God’s love and faithfulness (v.7).
David closed his song so differently from how he started it, “Then will I ever sing praise to Your name and fulfill my vows days after day.” (v.8) David was not afraid, lonely, or desperate any longer. Why? Because he cried out to the only One who could hear, respond, and bring healing to the king’s heart and spirit.
Growing up I heard, “God gave you a brain, now use it.” Also, “You got yourself into this mess you can get yourself out.” What I have come to understand is what David expressed in Psalm 61. God has given me a brain and it has learned to depend on and cry out to Him for help. As well, I have learned that so often I do get myself into messes and most of the time only God can get me out of them; and, He wants to if I will just cry out to Him.
How about you? Do you need to cry out to the Lord? He’s listening. He has a place with Him for you.