One of the most important aspects of faith in God is knowing the extent of our faith, meaning what is it that we really believe that God can do in our lives and in the lives of others. Often the extent of our faith is based on testimonies of what God has done for others or for us in times of personal crises. I define faith as the belief that what seems impossible can become real and visible, through the power of God working in Christ Jesus.
Crises, for me, are those situations that are truly beyond our ability to fix, events that need a supernatural solution that only Jesus can supply. Crises tend to challenge our faith and, if we are not careful, we can lose our faith when trials seem to go on indefinitely or when they involve life and death decisions for ourselves or our loved ones.
Commentary for the psalm for this week, Psalm 61, shows that it was written while David was in a crisis. David was running for his life after the insurrection of his son, Absalom. It is apparent from the psalm that in the midst of this crisis, David kept his faith in God’s ability to resolve the situation in his favor. It is a lesson for us all.
Psalm 61:1-4 O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
David learned through past crises that God alone could help him when he was overwhelmed by the troubles in his life. David knew of God’s omnipresence. Indeed, in Psalm 139: 7-8, David stated, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.” David’s faith was built on the fact that he could depend on God hearing his prayers wherever he might be.
So, David asked God to lead him to the towering rock of safety, meaning he wanted God to keep him in His presence and protection, for he considered God a refuge and a fortress, both places that are highly protected and impenetrable. David could not depend on others or on himself, so he placed his faith in God to keep him safe beneath the shelter of God’s wings. Today, the rock of safety is Jesus, for 1 Corinthians 10:4 states, “And all of them drank from the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Jesus.”
Psalm 61:5-8 For you have heard my vows, O God. You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name. Add many years to the life of the king! May his years span the generations! May he reign under God’s protection forever. May your unfailing love and faithfulness watch over him. Then I will sing praises to your name forever as I fulfill my vows each day.
David understood that God alone decides life and death, so he asked that God in his unfailing love and faithfulness, would watch over him and keep him safe so that he could live to witness the births of his grandchildren and, maybe, great-grandchildren. He was asking for mercy and grace to endure the present crisis in his life. He was so sure that God would give him victory that he stated that he would praise God forever as he fulfilled his vows
Fulfilling his vows meant that David planned to continue to be faithful to God, because of his belief in God’s goodness and mercy in the land of the living. In Psalm 101, David made vows to God, including praising God with songs, living a blameless life, leading a life of integrity, and refusing to look at anything vile and vulgar. David was in effect saying that he would demonstrate his faith in God by the ways that he lived his life. That is another great lesson for us today, for people should see your faith in God in how you live your life and in how your treat other people.
This psalm should help us remain encouraged when crises come, and, believe me, they will come, for no one gets out of this life without some suffering and trials. David was in a life and death situation. Yet, no matter how bad it looked for him, he kept his faith in God, never wavering in his belief that God would hear and answer his prayers.
Crises are uncomfortable situations that call for the assistance of One who is greater than we are, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and whose ways are greater than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). So, like David, we must stay strong and keep our faith in the midst of crises, believing and living by the words of Jeremiah 32:17-19, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!”