Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Psalms 61 is attributed to David and is intended to be sung with accompaniment by stringed instruments.
It begins with a dramatic plea for God to hear his cry. He calls out from a distant place; perhaps he is in battle or seeking safe journey in the desert. In the desert, elevation is an advantage. He asks for the defense of a higher place of safety. This has become a blessed refuge for those who know Jesus. David knew the truth of Jesus as the Rock. "The Rock that is higher than I" made its way into our musical heritage. Many references to "The Rock" speaks of Jesus and his abiding presence and place of safety in our times of distress. "The Rock of Ages," "Standing on the Solid Rock," "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense," "the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," these references from the Old Testament point to Jesus before his incarnation.
Another metaphor claims our attention in vs. 4: " I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." This metaphor speaks to a warmer image than the majestic high rock. Dwelling in God's tent and finding safety under the covering wings of a mother bird are softer than the hard, heavy rock. The maternal instincts of the bird protect from cold and even shield from rain or snow. The tent and shelter provide a different aspect of protection than the rock image.
David prized the heritage from his family's worship of God. He sought God's blessing on the King. I am assuming this Psalm was written before David became King.
He closes with praise to God and a promise to fulfill his vows.
For the Director of Music. For Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
The notations are difficult because the meanings have been lost. Jeduthun may be the name of a Levite who served in the Temple. It may mean the Psalm was intended for his choir or his interpretation. He had sons who were also musicians so the notation may have had special meaning for his style of music or his methods of performance.
David's emphasis is on rest of God. He is conscious of those who would attack him, but he is sure of a place of safety. He points out that men, highborn or lowborn, are unreliable. Only God is faithful. Matthew Henry's commentary points out that the two things in vs. 11 are not different items, but that David heard it twice, once in his ear and then again in his heart or soul.
God's rewards, like his love, are unfailing.
This Psalm of David identifies the time it represents as David's time in the desert hiding from Saul.
The image of thirst in the dry, parched desert, to be satisfied by the presence of God is the opening. He praises God, recalling the times when he beheld His power and glory in the sanctuary. He remembers praising Him in the watches of the night and in the shelter of His wings.
David is confident that God will protect him and his enemies will be destroyed. Then there is vs. 11. He seems to have forgotten that the one who wants to kill him is the king. Is David remembering Saul before his paranoia set in, before the spear was thrown? I am very uncomfortable when I find an error, any kind of inconsistency in scripture. There are ways to back out of this confrontation. Perhaps David is projecting forward to the time when he will be King. Or the time before Saul sought to kill him. I don't know how others see this. I take the rest of the Psalm without reservations, but this takes some rationalization. I leave it to you, Dear reader, take your best shot.
This Psalm of David describes the damage inflicted by cruel words, by those who "sharpen their tongues like swords." He describes the conspiracy of those "who encourage each other in evil plans."
"God will shoot them with his arrows." "God will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin."
"The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him."
This Psalm is reassuring to those who are besieged by problems and verbal assaults. It is a source of comfort to who those who need reassurance in the face of public opinion. We do not need to respond to bitter and insulting diatribes when we are innocent. God will undertake for us. The upright in heart will glory in the Lord.
Psalms 65 is a litany of reasons for praising God, of ways in which He blesses us, and of some of the ways the goodness of the earth's bounty provide for us.
In reading it you will recognize God's attention to our needs and his provision for our comfort. The Psalm is labeled as a song and it is directed to the attention of the Director of Music. We have no insight into the way music was performed in David's time, but with these notes, I feel this may have had special meaning to David. David always expresses thanks and praise, but in this Psalm, he expresses no negative thoughts. He is not fearful of enemies or evil events. It's all good. Use it to remind yourself of all your blessings and benefits.
Scripture quotes are from The Apologetics Bible, the Holman Translation.