Lead Me To the Rock

Psalm 61

Popular thing in schools a while back – lots of emphasis on self-esteem. Helping kids with low self-esteem to improve it, encouraging things others could/should do to boost self-esteem of losers in their class, on the playground. Goal, of course, to have everyone think highly of himself as he ought. Seems like a good idea, at least on the surface – those who have higher self-esteem will excel in school, achieve more in sports and academics and do better socially. At least that’s what we’re told, might even be statistical evidence to bear it out. But is that where God and his word come down on the topic? It would seem to be in direct conflict with Phil. 2:3

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Psalmist’s outlook much more in keeping with Paul: placing priority on proper self-image rather than self-esteem. Recognized and acknowledged didn’t have adequate personal resources to meet present need – under-powered and under-equipped for size of challenge. Understood same was true not only for himself but also for those in authority. How often we are like the child, attempting something beyond strength or ability; refuses help even when adult knows they really need it. God, always patient Father to his children, stands ready to help when we finally figure it out!

Spurgeon has good comments:

“The Psalm itself is very personal, and well adapted for the private devotion of a single individual. This Psalm is a pearl. It is little, but precious. To many a mourner it has furnished utterance when the mind could not have devised speech for itself.”

When winds and waves of life are full of bluster, can do no better than pray “lead me to the rock that is higher than I”. Told someone the other day: can do other than pray, and maybe should; can do no better than pray and should do that first. Reminder to self: you are dependent, you need God’s help in all things.

A. prayer for personal help v.1-4

listen up (1a)

earnest child of God does not rest until certain that his prayer has entered ears of his heavenly Father

especially true when it’s cry for help in desperate situation – wants assurance that Father’s face is turned toward him

email discussion list – prayer request, usually heavy (pastoral) – 5 minutes later: “Done” – seriously??

be attentive (1b)

not simply request for a hearing – goes beyond hearing to consideration followed by action

particular action isn’t specified this time, left up to God to determine most fitting course, confident he will do what is best

“Our heavenly Father is not hardened against the cries of his own children. What a consoling thought it is that the Lord at all times hears his people’s cries, and is never forgetful of their prayers; whatever else fails to move him, praying breath is never spent in vain.” CHS

situation is desperate (2a)

two sympathetic emotions expressed here – feeling of distance and of distress; they often go together especially when separation from loved one is in view

Psalm written when worship of true God much more “localized”, limited by God’s requirement to tabernacle

perhaps David was geographically separated from worship center; but,… doesn’t fully explain strong language used in prayer

circumstances such that felt like he was in “most remote place on earth” – deep and painful sense of aloneness

situation / events have brought to point of incapacity – unable intellectually or emotionally to find a solution

not necessarily the direct result of any particular wrongdoing – don’t forget Jesus’ answer to disciples question:

John 9:2-3 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

rather than find reason in predicament to blame God, look for help elsewhere, did just the opposite – instead, persevered in crying out to God, trying to recover what he valued and didn’t have

lead me (2b)

our rock of salvation must be higher than we are if it is to be effectual – must be out of harm’s way, out of reach of any enemy

may be able to find temporary haven on our own; lasting security, though, only found and acquired through God’s help

even if on our own we stumble upon true refuge, God must help us enter it

in ultimate sense, mere knowledge of a Savior is of no use to us without help of Holy Spirit leading us to him, enabling us to rest in him

you have helped before (3)

whether in prayer or in song, always appropriate to remember and rehearse prior evidences of God’s faithful provision

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word, just to rest upon his promise, just to know “Thus saith the Lord.” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus; O for grace to trust him more.

if God is immutable, unchanging, has been shelter and refuge in past (for us or others), can be counted on in future

I desire to be close (4)

not “I’ll live in town”, not even “I’ll come by once a week” – I will abide, live, be a permanent resident in your tent

and… I’ll live by house rules – be content with shelter God provides, in other words, doing it his way

“It is worse to be separated from the house of God than it is to be far from home.” Lange

“If real saints have such a longing for God’s appointed public worship, what shall be thought of professing Christians, who voluntarily exile themselves from the privileges of God’s house under an evangelical ministry?” Plumer

B. prayer for the king v.5-7

you have heard before (5)

each part of prayer has element of confidence based on past experience: v.3 past protection, v.5 past blessing

God has heard prayer / vow in past, has responded: in this case, to treat the one praying as His child

adds to confidence level: there’s been the visible response to prayer, but there’s also confidence of relationship

put all together, that encourages freedom to intercede on behalf of the king

help the king (6)

give him long life – that means, let him rule for a long time since kings aren’t up for re-election

not our first choice, always, to pray for one in power this way; however, given v.7… oughtta think about it!

stability in government is good for society and for the church – not just any kind of stability, more on that in moment

is right to pray for those in power, plead with God that they would faithfully carry out task he has delegated to them

preserve the king (7)

if the king is governing under the watchful eye of God, especially if he does so consciously, then results would be good for his subjects

prayer also is that God would appoint mercy and truth to preserve the king

hard to imagine if those two good qualities are directed to preservation of ruler, that there would be no good effect

it’s good to pray that as mercy and truth preserve that they would also penetrate – that national leaders would display those traits in their persons and their politics

don’t despair – numerous examples of pagan rulers throughout Israel’s later history who did God’s bidding, who acknowledged his sovereign rule

Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes to name a few

C. promise to praise v.8

I’m being honest – I’ll recognize you at work and give you the glory

“We ought not to leap in prayer, and limp in praise.” CHS

important doctrine of church that has been argued for more than 4 centuries: called “perseverance of the saints”

LBCF 17.1 Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

true saints will perservere, not only in salvation, but in prayer and praise as well

will be the natural character of their life to express dependence in prayer, thanksgiving in praise

first choice of saint is to make “religious” practice, piety, part of daily life – “fulfilling my vows day by day”

spending time each day purposefully in prayer and praise; also spontaneous times when circumstances dicate – have particular need, see God’s fingerprints clearly

D. echoes of Christ

the rock (2b)

Jesus said: John 5:39“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

includes the Psalms, they clearly testify of Lord Jesus in his humiliation and exaltation

Christ certainly is our Rock of salvation – the one higher than all others, the one place of refuge and security

with feet established by God on the Rock we can withstand temptation

can endure any challenges that would try to overwhelm

can rest assured that we are secure both in this life and the next

Let us then, in every affliction, look to Jesus as our help; and, with a deep impression of our inability to go to him aright, let us cry unto God, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!”” Charles Simeon

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