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The 61st Psalm does not fall into the category of being "famous."  It is a little known ... but precious passage of Scripture.  It should be preached and taught to all the people of God.

Let's study it together!

          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 A Preacher in his Study




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 1:

I've thought about this little Psalm for days now.  It's "new" to me.  What Psalm? Psalm 61 {To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David.}  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. It only has eight verses.  I would like for us to study it this week. David wrote it sometime after he became King. Verse six proves that he apparently wrote it when away from Jerusalem.  He considers himself "in the end of the earth" in verse two! The older Commentators believed that David wrote this Psalm when the revolt of his son Absalom was occurring.  The Passage contains several beautiful truths. What do you do when your life is "overwhelmed"?  See that word in verse two. How do you respond when someone is apparently trying to kill you?  That's what's happening in verse six! Here's what David did in those troublesome times. In verse one he prays (to the Lord)! In verse four he abides (in the Lord)!    And in verse eight he sings (about the Lord)! And (also verse eight) David works (for the Lord)! Now ... to verse one: "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer." (Psalm 61:1)  In our verse the first verb "hear" is in the imperative mood!  "Shama" means to "listen to."  The imperative here underlines the urgency of David's request.  It usually carries the idea of hearing with interest and concern. The noun "cry" means a creaking or shrill sound!  Even ... a shout!  BUT in the King James Version it is translated "singing" (9 times), "rejoicing" (3 times), "joy" (3 times), "gladness" (1 time) and even "triumph" (1 time)!  There's a note of victory and joy even in David's turmoil! The Name of God mentioned here is "Elohiym."  It has a veiled reference to the Trinity I believe!  (It's plural in form but is treated as a singular grammatically!  That means it's a "Three in One" kind of word!)  David is praying to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And ... YES I do believe He knew this doctrine. The second verb of verse one is "attend."  It's "qashab" in Hebrew and literally means "to prick up the ears."  It's a human way to describe an action of the Almighty! Little animals do this "ear pricking" thing when they hear something!  Their ears stand straight up in response to the noise (however slight)!  David is asking God to hear his slightest whisper in this time of need!  And the implication is that God hears better than the beautiful deer in the forest!  God doesn't miss a word when we call upon Him! The noun for "prayer" ("taphillah") is found 77 times in Scripture and each time is rendered just that, "prayer."  (Never any variation!)  It comes from a root word that means "to judge."  I've never thought of it exactly like that ... but prayer does require some judging and discernment as it is voiced.  That's one reason why we need the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us! Just by looking a one short verse the Lord has taught us a couple of valuable lessons about calling on God!  Truly the Bible is a "wondrous" Book! I'm so glad you've studied with us today!




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 2:

Our verse today is one of worship! David, although going through trial, is determined to pray to his God! "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." Psalm 61:2 It is believed that David here is having to flee the Palace. Notice that he is praying to the Lord "from the end of the earth." Geographically he may be far from home ... fleeing for his very life. (Chased by an enemy ... maybe his own son Absalom!) Of course Davidís heart may feel a long way from the Lord too! Every Jew loved the city of Jerusalem. Thatís where the Ark of the Covenant would have been ... and later the Temple of Solomon.  The verb "call" means to summon, to invite or to call aloud for someone! The "time" sense of the word is one of incomplete action ... the praying was a continuous thing with David. "Overwhelmed" means (Hebrew = "ataph") fainting or feeble. Some linguists feel that it comes from a root word that means "to shroud or to clothe" ... therefore being wrapped in darkness. "Lead" is the verb "nachah" which means to guide or to bring or even to govern. David is asking the Lord to constantly lead him back to the House of God (and the city of God)! "Rock" (Hebrew = "tzsur") is a common noun with an uncommon background! It is obviously a reference to Christ, Who is a mighty Refuge! The first use of our word for rock is in Exodus 17:6 where Moses is told to strike the rock so that water could flow forth to save thirsty Israel! (That smitten rock giving life-saving water is also a picture of Christ!) The verb "is higher" is from the Hebrew word "rum" that means to rise, to rise up or to be exalted! This action word speaks of One being lifted higher and higher! Again, this sound like Jesus to me! I heard an older preacher say that the word picture here for being led to a rock that is higher than you is one from the world of the sailor. It depicts one who is shipwrecked and nearly drowning in the flooding billows and waves! He frantically reaches and grasps for anything ... then suddenly, he feels something! What is it? A Rock! He grasps it and delightfully finds that it is a high rock! It leads upward and upward and upward ... right out of the water and to safety! Thatís exactly what Jesus was to this drowning sinner! I was going down for the last time and I found the Rock! (Really I was floundering and the Rock found me!) Once upon the Rock I discovered safety in its heights! He saved me from sure destruction in the depths below! What a testimony David has shared with us today! I feel like Iíve been standing on Holy Ground! The Lord willing, tomorrow we shall look at verse 3 of this 61st Psalm.




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 3:

The Old Testament is just full of beautiful word pictures! Many of them concern the Lord Himself. Two are in todayís verse. "For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy." Psalm 61:3 The words "hast been" translate one Hebrew verb, "hayah." It means to be, to become, to exist. It is almost always used in an emphatic sense. Itís a Qal perfect verb. (Simply active voice and action completed! David apparently has in mind some specific time in the past when God was a Shelter and Strong Tower for him!) Now to the noun "shelter." The word means a refuge. Also it can be defined as a place to which one may flee in danger. Of the 20 times itís used in the King James Bible, it is translated "refuge" 15 times and "shelter" 2 times and "hope" 2 times and "trust" 1 time. In Job 24:8 it pictures a refuge from the rain. In Psalm 94:22 God is the "Rock" of our refuge! In Psalm 104:18 the high hills are said to be a refuge for the wild goats. Isaiah 25:4 speaks of a refuge from the storm. And in Isaiah 28:15 there are some who have made "lies" their refuge! And our word is translated "hope" in Jeremiah 17:17 where God is our hope in the day of evil! "Strong" as in strong tower is the adjective "oz," coming from a verb which means "to be stout." God cannot fail! He is strength perfected! He is all-strong! (omnipotent) And "tower" is "migdal" which means to be large (to twist). It pictures a tower in its sense of being straight up in shape and reinforced in its construction. Of its 50 Bible uses, it is rendered "tower" 47 times (and "castles" once in 1 Chronicles 27:25, "flowers" once in Song of Solomon 5:13, and "pulpit" once in Nehemiah 8:4). Wow! The Lord is my Castle! Preachers, remember the next time youíre preaching from that pulpit that the Lord IS the pulpit! (As He is everything else in the Christian life too!)  The word "pulpit" is only found this one time in all of the Bible!  The "pulpit" is a tower of strength for the Christian! The noun "enemy" comes from a root word that means "to hate" or to be "hostile!" It is clear from this verse that David puts his hope for safety in the Lord! Dear Believing friend, today as you talk to the Lord ... tell Him just what He means to you! Let him know in your own words that Heís your "Shelter" and your "Strong Tower!" Thank God for His protection!




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 4:

In todayís study verse David makes some promises to God. What he says here sounds a lot like the last verse of Psalm 23 --- "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!" Hereís how he phrases it in Psalm 61:4 --- "I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah." David is longing for the House of God! He is for some reason fleeing Jerusalem in this Psalm. (It may be when his son Absalom was rebelling and trying to kill him.) When far away from the Tabernacle, David always yearned for its beauty and presence. He truly loved to worship God there! He makes a commitment here. He will ABIDE in Godís House! The verb (Hebrew = "gur") means to sojourn, to dwell for a time, to inhabit! The time sense of the verb is that of incomplete action. He continually longs for the Tabernacle of God. (To get an idea of the temporary nature of the verbís action, read the verse in which itís first used in Scripture. Genesis 12:10 --- "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.") The noun "tabernacle" means "tent." In Hebrew itís spelled "ohel." It is a reference to the dwelling place of the Ark of the Covenant I believe. David loved it dearly and had brought it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). The King just loved to be in a place where he could worship his God! "For ever" translates a Hebrew term that means the "vanishing point." (Until time is seen no more!) David plans to be faithful in worshiping God. Of course David knows that the Tabernacle will soon become the Temple! But either place ... God is to be adored and honored! The verb "trust" ("chasah") means to flee for protection! Or to seek refuge! It also indicates on-going habitual action. Using our very verb here, Psalm 2:12 says: "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."  If you make God your "trust" ... He also promises to be your Shield! 2 Samuel 22:31 --- "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him." And get Psalm 5:11 --- "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them." The word "covert" means anything that covers. (A shelter or hiding place!) It can be rendered: a "secret" place! Though it is a strange way to illustrate the word, Job 24:15 says --- "The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face." When we flee to the Lord for safety ... He "disguises" us from the enemy! Furthermore Psalm 27:5 says of the Lord --- "In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me." (Like a little chick, get under His Wings! Like poor little Ruth ... get under the wings of your wealthy loving Boaz!) And the word "wings" is just the common noun for a wing, extremity, edge or border of something. I believe it is a picture of the wings of the Cherubim that overshadow the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat that are meant here. See what you think after checking the following verses. Psalm 17:8 --- "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings." Psalm 36:7 --- "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." Psalm 57:1 --- "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." Psalm 63:7 --- "Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." And notice the verse ends with the word "selah." It is believed to mean "pause." (Maybe being a musical term!) But the basic root definition of the verb is "to lift up or to exalt!" It could indicate that the Psalm is going on now to a "higher" level of spiritual meaning! David is prepared to worship God! He literally grieves when he is unable to do so. No wonder Acts 13:22 says of the Lord --- "He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." May we have the same hunger (or greater) for the Lord!




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 5:

Think with me this Friday about one verse of Scripture. In Psalm 61:5 David said: "For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name." The noun "vows" translates the Hebrew term "neder." It comes from a verb which means "to promise." (To do or give something to God!) Davidís love for God is not just one of words! He performs certain actions out of dedication to his Lord! Vows were important enough in the Old Testament that whole chapters of Scripture were given to them! (For example, Numbers 30) By the way, notice that the vows are plural here! (In the New Testament Paul calls our "giving" the proof of our love to God! 2 Corinthians 8:24) God is keenly interested in what we offer to Him. (Jesus illustrates this in Mark 12 as He sat by the treasury and watched how people gave!) Our verse says that God "hears" the vows of his dedicated child! This particular verb ("shama") means to listen with interest or attention! The verb is active telling us that God Himself listens when we give to His Name. The "time" sense of the verb is that of completed action. The second you vowed ... God listened with care and heard every bit of your loving commitment! Then David acknowledges that God has given him something! Maybe God gives to everyone who vows (gives) to Him! Donít forget verses like Luke 6:38 --- "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."  Thatís a promise! (And a great one, too!) If you want this truth in Old Testament terminology, here it is. Malachi 3:10 --- "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." "Heritage" is one great word! In Hebrew it is spelled "yerushah." It comes from a verb root that means to occupy, to seize, to inherit! It can even carry the meaning "to expel or to impoverish!" What God has given me has been TAKEN from the enemy! I believe that at least part of the heritage David describes here is the land God gave him. Moses led the Israelites to the land ... but couldnít enter! Joshua led them into the land but failed to conquer it all! The Judges experienced partial victory at times ... but never possessed all the land God had promised! Saul certainly did not conquer the land. BUT King David did fight and win battle after battle ... on the way to Israelís greatest land holdings ever! New Testament Christian, you have inherited some things too! (Not land ... but spiritual blessings!) For example: eternal salvation, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the completed Word of God, a local assembly in which to worship and serve the Lord, a godly Pastor to feed you ... and so much more! To "fear" the Lord means to reverence, respect, worship and hold in HIGH regard the Lord God Almighty! If you want an exciting Bible study, go through the Scriptures and list the blessings promised to those who "fear" the Lord! They are both numerous and astounding! This verse seems to me to be a little "love contest" between David and the Lord! The Lord says to David, "I love you." David says to the Lord, "I shall vow these things unto You!" God says back to David, "Then I will allow you to inherit these blessings!" David says in return, "I will reverence and fear Thee!" And on and on it goes ... for eternity! Guess Who "wins!" The Lord always out-loves us! In fact, 1 John 4:19 truly says: "We love him, because he first loved us." I have particularly enjoyed todayís verse! And itís found right in the middle of a little-known Psalm! All I know to say is ... "Praise the Lord!"




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 6:

Truly King David was a godly man at heart. He made mistakes ... but eventually sought Godís forgiveness for them all. He wrote so much (under divine inspiration) that we may know him quite well. Charles Spurgeon, after having written his massive commentary on the Book of Psalms called "Treasury of David," said that David was his very best friend! Todayís verse gives us some further insight into the heart and character of David ... and maybe even some hints about the Greater Son of David, our Lord Jesus! "Thou wilt prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations." Psalm 61:6 Letís examine this Scripture. The verb "prolong" translates in Hebrew "yasaph" which means to add, to increase, to further, to continue ... or even to do again! Itís a "causative active" verb (Hiphil stem) and means the God has the power to increase oneís years! (But there must be a cause for doing so!) The noun used for "life" here is most often translated as "day, time, or year." In Hebrew itís "yom." And the word "king" comes from a root verb that means "to ascend the throne." But, wait just a minute. Of Whom is David speaking? Does he want longer life for himself ... or does he have Someone different in view? I can only tell you what a lot of the old preachers (100 to 200 years ago) believed. They were of the conviction that David here all of a sudden has the Messiah in mind.  He God will some day sent a KING Who will live generations (eternally)! Into the ages of the ages! It would not surprise me that when we get to Heaven and learn all the depths of this precious Bible weíve been studying together ... that the Psalms were indeed a foreview of the Lord Jesus Christ! I believe Jesus is foreshadowed in dozens and dozens of the Psalms ... mostly without our ever seeing Him. (My, what we are missing!) Thereís really no doubt in my mind but that Jesus Himself read these words (not in English of course) and applied them to His very Heart! David is here soaring to the heavens (as he so often does under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit)! He sees King Jesus Who will reign for a thousand glorious years (the millennium) plus the whole of eternity! (This is Jesus in His great Second Coming Glory!) David knew death was coming to him ... as to every other man. (David died in 1 Kings 1:11.) But there was One coming Who would conquer death, hell and the grave. David even wrote of this Son of God. (See Psalm 16 for example.) The second use of the word "years" is a Hebrew noun "shaneh" and means year (about 800 times in the King James Bible). Itís root stem is from a verb that means "to fold or to revolve!" (As a year is repeated every 12 months!) "Many generations" is a rendering of "dor," a Hebrew noun derived from the word meaning "to gyrate or move in a circle." Again, a picture (though from a different semantic source) of a revolution of time. (As days are repeated and so are weeks, months, years, etc.) Any way you study it ... this is a prayer for the coming (Second Coming) of the Lord and for his eternal victory and prosperity and reign and success and kingdom! Of course we New Testament Believers know that in that coming kingdom age we too shall reign as kings and priests with our Lord. (This should be one of the motivating factors to cause us to want to be Faithful to our Saviour!) See Revelation 5:10 --- "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Perhaps David did supernaturally see these coming events! (Isnít that what inspiration is, anyway?) I believe it would be all right for us to pray for the sure success of our dear Lordís present and future Ministry! (Now Heís the Intercessor! Then Heíll be the King!) "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:20 Now the liberals would just laugh at this old fundamentalist preacher! They would say that no way could King David see prophetically that far into the future! They would suggest that heís praying for his son and grandson and great grandson as they continue to reign in Israel. (Praying for a dynasty.) Of course, praying for oneís children is a great (and a Biblical) idea. But I sense David is doing far more than that here.But I do have a habit of taking almost any text of Scripture and carrying it to Jesus! (I find that He sheds Light on any Passage!) I canít imagine getting to Heaven and being rebuked for seeing too much of Jesus in the Bible, can you?




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 7:

It is often said by the theological "liberals" that the Old Testament has an inadequate idea of Heaven.  (That "eternity" as such is not taught in the first 39 Books of Scripture!) I disagree! And one reason I do is the 61st Psalm. For example, notice verse 7 ... "He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him." The verb "abide" translates the Hebrew term "yashab" and means to sit down, to remain, to settle or to continue!  And it pictures "imperfect" action ... ongoing incomplete action!  David is going to keep on and on abiding before God!  (Sounds like eternity to me!) "For ever" is the expression that (in Hebrew) means "to the vanishing point!"  (As far as one can see!  Here ... as far as God can see!  And that is for evermore!) The verb "prepare" is great!  It means to count, to number, to reckon, to assign or to appoint! (Root: to weigh out or to allot or even to enroll!) It is a Piel imperative also.  That reveals that David asks God to do this vigorously, with determination and diligence! "Mercy" is our old friend "chesed" and means "covenant love!"  (The love a husband has for his wife!  The determination to make and keep vows of love and protection and faithfulness to her!) "Truth" is in Hebrew "emeth" and means faithfulness, sureness, reliability, stability or continuance! And the last beautiful verb of the verse is "preserve" (in Hebrew = "natzsar") and means to keep or to watch or to guard or to observe with fidelity!  It's a word with a "time" sense that remains incomplete.  We as Christians are "guarded" forever by Mercy and Truth! What a verse we've had today! It sounds like the New Testament, doesn't it? It just seems that whatever "bad" situation comes David's way ... after a short time of "shock" and readjustment ... he springs back into a posture of praising and worshiping God! May his number increase! (Remember, mercy and truth are what generated the praise of Psalm 117!)  It would not surprise me that the more David ponders God "mercy" and "Truth" here ... the more he will praise Him too!) Therefore we had better not look at tomorrow's verse yet!  No doubt there he will be shouting the praises of God! (Oops!  I peaked!  David IS singing praises ... in spite of his problems!)




PSALM 61 ... VERSE 8:

In Psalm 61:8 we read these words:  "So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows." So said godly King David years ago. Let's study this verse today.  It begins with an adverb, "so."  This is often rendered "hence, because of, or therefore."  It links our verse to the earlier part of the Psalm. He's just said that he will abide before God for ever!  THEREFORE he will sing praises!  (If one abides with God ... he or she WILL be joyful.) Psalm 16::11 "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." The words "will sing praise" translate one little Hebrew verb, "zamar."  It has an interesting background.  The linguists say that it means "to touch with the fingers!"  It has the idea of playing a musical instrument and singing with the melody.  (David was a musician and an inventor of musical instruments!  Amos 6:5) ... BUT the root of the verb comes from a word that means "to trim a vine" thus "to prune!"  Is the Lord teaching us something here?  If we will obediently praise His Name and sing His glories ... will our activity help trim away unwanted areas of our lives?  That sure is what the word implies!  (Also our verb here is a "Piel" stem which indicates the action is dramatic and intensive!  REALLY singing and praising!) But look at what this joy does for David! It further motivates him to "daily perform his vows."  The verb "perform" (in Hebrew = "shalam") means here "to complete, to finish" ... and can have the idea of recompense or reward!  (God had been so good to David ... David wanted to love and serve Him in return!)  This word also is a "Piel" ... vigorously performing his vows! A "vow" by definition is something given or promised to God. It looks to me like David's resolve (I will abide before God for ever!  Verse 7) produced David's praise (Verse 8a) ... which gave him determination to keep his vows or serve God completely (Verse 8b)! And that's EXACTLY what the Bible teaches elsewhere!  Listen to Nehemiah 8:10 --- "For this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength." He began this Psalm far away from Jerusalem and in need of a shelter from the enemy.  He was overwhelmed with problems.  BUT he ends the Psalm thinking of God's Truth and Mercy and singing praises for ever! (And ... faithfully serving the Lord!) That's the pattern with the Christian!  (From sin-cursed earth to glory-filled Heaven!) There are always "good things to come!"  God always saves the best until last! May YOU sing praise unto His Name all day long!

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



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