A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 61

UnknownDavid was the greatest king Israel ever had.

He was the second king of Israel and not only expanded her territory, but brought a sustainable peace. David was a great warrior, demonstrated early on by his defeat of Goliath. It was sung among the people that “Saul had struck his thousands and David his ten thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7)

Yet David was not without difficult times or controversy. There was a point in time when David shirked his kingly duties, committed adultery, and murder by proxy. Still, the New Testament records him as “a man after God’s own heart.”

David’s repentance set him apart from Israel’s other kings.

In Psalm 61, David cries out to God as only a leader can and should. Many scholars believe that David penned this psalm during the time that his son Absalom usurped the throne. This put David on the run, away from Jerusalem and away from the tabernacle of God’s presence. We can divide the psalm into two parts. Both represent David’s dependence upon God. Both demonstrate a spiritual leader’s need to be anchored in God.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!

So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.

David Finds His Hope In God  Verses 1-4 reveal David’s desperate plea to be led by God. How profound. A leader seeing his need to be led. David, in the midst of anarchy, cries out to God in desperation. He literally says that his heart is faint. David, in a very intense fashion, pleads with God to be his security-his rock, his strong tower. He declares that God is his hope, his refuge. Even though he is on the run, in peril from his own son, he finds his hope in God, the only surety that he has. Hope is always forward looking. Real hope must be anchored in the God who controls it all. Otherwise, our leadership trials and difficulties make no sense. Our heart will become faint, fragile. We need the rock that is higher than us, who will comfort us with his presence and shelter us with his tender care. Our titles and success provide us with no sure foundation of hope. Only a God who higher than we can be a viable hope.

David Finds His Source In God  Verses 5-8 show David’s understanding that only God can bring him through these difficult times. David recognizes that his leadership success comes from God. He recognizes too that the very people he leads belong to God. David asks for more life and he asks for a longer reign. He understands that it is only God’s unmerited love and faithfulness that will see him through. David, through vows of prayer, will offer up praise to God as a right response to His character being displayed for the future of Israel. David sees himself as just a servant, a steward on duty for the sake of salvation history. So are all of us who seek to lead in His name. If our source is anything or anyone else, we will be left destitute and surely disappointed. But if we are able to sing His praises, we will find the strength to fulfill our prayerful vows unto Him and for His glory.

What is your prayer today?

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  1. Gary
    A great summary of the dichotomy we live in when we rest in God’s grace. While we will have times of being down or faint hearted, God has also used that grace to allow us to understand that our desire for Him will help us to feel that same presence.
    Leaders in business and life (of which we all are are sometime) need to know that a down time is a part of the race we run to understand the sovereignty of God’s purpose for each of us. The race is active, and as we seek God, it’s good to know that God is seeking us.

    • Thanks Tom for your comments and for adding to the conversation. I especially appreciate your thought of mutual seeking-us seeking God and God seeking us. It is a great comfort.

  2. David is one of those biblical characters that really tests my image of God – “A man after God’s own heart” and yet he committed adultery and murdered an innocent man to cover it up. Leaves much leeway for us mere mortals.

    • Thanks Julian for your comments. I think the only reason the New Testament can say that about David is because he repented of his sin, unlike say King Saul who never did. The heart that sees its sin and repents in dependence upon God can have the same standing. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. Gary
    As i read this Psalm again, the other item that strikes me is that David is talking to God about his pleas, God’s measure of grace to him, what he wants for the future, praising Him for what He’s done, etc…The one thing all of this discourse tells us, is that God affects our lives in order that we continue to have a conversation with Him…When we get self indulgent or self content, there is usually those times that show us that God really wants a “dialog, not a monolog”…No relationship can last without that communication…Isn’t it great that we have a God who knows when to nudge us to talk with Him…

    • Thanks for your comments Tom-great words-I think you are spot on. The beauty of the Psalms to me is that they are so honest, showing that God cares, He is gracious enough to handle all of our foibles, and that it is a relationship of dialogue. Thanks for adding to the conversation.