Psalm 61

Psalm 61[a]

Prayer of One in Exile

1 For the director.[b] With stringed instruments. Of David.

2 O God, hear my cry
and listen to my prayer.
3 From the ends of the earth[c] I call to you,
with a heart that is fainting away;
set me high upon a rock.
4 For you are my refuge,
a tower of strength against the enemy.
5 I will abide in your tent forever
and find refuge in the shelter of your wings.[d] Selah
6 For you, O God, have heard my vows
and granted me the heritage of those who fear your name.[e]
7 [f]Add length of days to the life of the king;
may his years be prolonged for many generations.
8 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever,
and may your kindness and faithfulness watch over him.
9 Then I will sing praise to your name forever
as I fulfill my vows day after day.[g]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 61:1 The psalmist, a Levite deported to Babylon along with the elite of the Jewish people in 598 B.C., voices his ardent desire to return to the holy city and resume his service in the temple. Added to this lament of the exiled Levite is a prayer for the king, probably on behalf of Zedekiah, the last to sit on the throne of David after the first deportation of 598 B.C. This prayer also calls upon the Messiah, who is to come from the royal line (see 2 Sam 7; 1 Chr 17:14), to reign forever, and whose coming Israel awaits.
    This prayer beautifully expresses our hope as Christians. Sent by the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit, Christ has become our Head, our guide and leader to the Father, provided we keep our eyes fixed on him by faith (see Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 2:10; 12:2). Long live Christ the King!
  2. Psalm 61:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 61:3 Ends of the earth: the phrase can also be translated as “from the brink of the netherworld,” i.e., the grave. Heart: see note on Ps 4:8. Set me high upon a rock: a reference to God’s sanctuary (see Ps 27:5). Another translation is: “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”: a reference to God, the psalmist’s “rock of refuge” (Pss 31:3; 71:3; see also Pss 18:3; 62:3, 7f; 94:22).
  4. Psalm 61:5 Shelter of your wings: see note on Ps 17:8.
  5. Psalm 61:6 The psalmist is certain of being heard (see Pss 56:14; 66:19) and resuming his functions (see Ps 16:5), for he is among those who fear God (see Mal 3:16). Name: see note on Ps 5:12.
  6. Psalm 61:7 As in Pss 85:11f; 89:15, 25, these personified divine attributes were thought to accompany the Messiah just as they protect the king (see Prov 20:28) or the simple Levite (see Ps 40:12). They were then applied to Christ, “Son of David,” by the Fathers of the Church. The insistence on an eternal reign recalls the prophecy of Nathan (see 2 Sam 7:16; 1 Chr 17:14), which is frequently alluded to in the Psalter (see Pss 18:51; 45:18; 72:5, 17; 89:5; 132:12). Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
  7. Psalm 61:9 See note on Ps 7:18. To fulfill one’s vows meant to make an offering or sacrifice promised to God, normally in a single ceremony. To do so day after day shows a commitment to a debt that could never be paid off or an awareness that God’s blessings are new every morning. Name: see note on Ps 5:12.

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