I said on Sunday that Psalm 61 is an “every-trouble” Psalm. The Psalm’s title has nothing to tell us of the circumstances that triggered it. And David says in the second verse that he can cry to God “from the ends of the earth” — wherever he may be, whatever the situation. In addition, he says he can cry to the Lord when his heart is “overwhelmed.”
David was not an overwhelmed-heart kind of guy. As a shepherd, he faced down a lion, and a bear. As a youth, he faced Goliath. He faced Saul’s treachery with courage, dealt with the opposition of the Philistines, and even in old age he kept going out to battle until his men wouldn’t let him go any longer. So when someone like that is talking about problems that overwhelm the heart, you know he’s talking about great trouble. As we look at Psalm 61, therefore, we can assume that it has answers for just about every trouble we might face — an “every-trouble” Psalm.
1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
5 For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
6 Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.
7 He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
8 So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
I found twelve things in this Psalm that we can do in times of trouble, twelve things that will honour the Lord as we seek His help.
1. Cry to God (1). “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee.” Prayer is always a good place to start. The use of the word “cry” here is indicative of a great urgency in prayer. The solutions always lie with God, so talking to Him about the problems is the best, the only, way to begin.
2. Look to Him for Leading (2). “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” When we think of the Lord’s leading, we often think of Him helping us to make decisions to deal with the problem. That is NOT what David was looking for. He asked for the Lord to lead him to his Rock, the One that is higher than we are. The closer we get to the Lord, the smaller our problems become. Ask the Lord to lead you closer to Him.
3. Remember His Past Goodness (3). “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Our problems get smaller when we remember what God has done for us in the past. God has not only helped us with the problems of this life, He has helped us with the biggest problem of all — sin that would have brought destruction and eternal punishment.
4. Seek His Presence (4). “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever.” David placed a great value on being in the presence of the Lord. We ARE His tabernacle, for the Holy Spirit lives within us, but we can shut down His effective working in our lives for a time by sin and stubbornness. Rather, we need to cherish His presence as David did.
5. Trust His Present Protection (4). “I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” This is the same imagery we see in Psalm 91, the care of a hen protecting her chicks from danger by gathering them under her wings. Not only does David remember what God has done for him in the past, he is confident that God is still protecting him.
6. Make Strong Commitments (5). “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows.” One thing about relationships: for them to work, they have to be a two-way street. God started this relationship, but it won’t work if we aren’t committed to it. If you expect God to help you every time trouble comes without ever committing anything to Him, I have bad news. It’s been tried before. Jeremiah 2:28 is an answer God gave one of those times.
7. Fear His Name (5). “Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” Don’t be casual about God. He isn’t your buddy, He is the Almighty. Give Him the respect and honour that is His due. Remember that you are asking Him for something He didn’t have to give you. God owed us nothing.
8. Remember His Promises (6). “Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.” As we remember that we are asking for something He didn’t have to give, we should also remember that we are asking, if we ask rightly, for things He promised He would give. Though we honour, yet we ask confidently as His children, remembering the things He has truly promised. (But we’d better go to His Word and study it carefully to find out what He really promised, because there are a lot of stupid statements about the things God has promised, and a trouble-free life on earth isn’t one of them.)
9. Keep Eternal Perspective (7). “He shall abide before God for ever.” When we remind ourselves of our eternal heritage, it keeps the problems of this life in perspective. Even if a problem lasts throughout our entire life, it’s still just a millisecond in the span of eternity. “And things of earth, that cause the heart to tremble, Remembered there will only bring a smile” (Stuart Hamblen, Until Then).
10. Love Mercy and Truth (7). “O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.” When we love mercy, our heart towards those who cause us troubles in this life will change. When we love truth, we will have a different perspective on our troubles. We will see them as opportunities to learn truth, maybe even to learn truths about how we have contributed to them! We will remember that mercy and truth are the things that preserve us, that deliver us, and we will love them for that, and seek to be both merciful and truthful ourselves.
11. Praise Him Always (8). “So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever.” I issued a challenge on Sunday. Just try it. Sing, “Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to Thee, How great Thou art!” And while you are singing that, complain and worry about your troubles. Go ahead, do it. 🙂 “And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.” If you can praise the Lord for your salvation and at the same time complain and worry, then you’d better call the doctor to get checked into the mental hospital, because YOU HAVE PROBLEMS! 🙂
12. Keep Those Strong Commitments (8). “That I may daily perform my vows.” Remember those strong commitments above? You need to keep them, not merely make them when you are in trouble and then forget them. (That’s been tried, too. :)) How often, reading the Bible, hearing a sermon, or some other time, have you realised something needs to change, and made a commitment — and not kept it? I’m not talking about when some preacher used a guilt trip or manipulative technique to get you to promise something, either. I’m talking about things you really knew from the Word of God that you were supposed to do. Would we expect a human being to help us in difficult times when we keep breaking our promises to them? Why do we expect God to do it?
Twelve things. None are guaranteed to end the trouble. But this “every-trouble” Psalm gives us twelve things that will make a tremendous difference in any trouble.