The Rock That Is Higher than I

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Psalm 61 (NIV)

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

This short and beautiful psalm is filled with gentle longings and abiding trust in God. Several of the phrases of this psalm have become so immortalized in hymns and prayers that even the first time a Christian reads Psalm 61 he feels as if he is returning to a dear friend. Listen again to some of these phrases: “From the ends of the earth I call out to you” (v. 2); “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (v. 2); “For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (v. 3); “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (v. 4). The entire psalm is about the character of God and our deep longing to abide with him.

Why do Christians love this psalm so much? Well, the iconic phrase, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” captures in a single phrase the entire Christian worldview. It is the joyful abandonment of the naturalistic worldview that says that there is no reality above or higher than the autonomous self.

As Christians reading or singing this psalm, we know that Jesus Christ is the name of that rock who is higher than all others. He is that “rock that struck the statue” of idolatry and “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:35).

As Christians, we know that Jesus is our refuge and strong tower, and we can take shelter in his wings because we are in Christ and are “found in him, not having a righteousness of [our] own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil. 3:9).
This psalm places in poetical form all that we know to be true about Jesus Christ and the gospel.

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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