As we look back over Psalm 61 we are reminded that David began it feeling that he was at "the ends of the earth," that is, far from God. But as he thought about God and prayed to him he drew closer to God and grew in confidence until he ends actually expecting to be established in Jerusalem, his capital, for many days and many generations. That is something to praise God for. And that, quite naturally, is how the psalm ends: “Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day.”

In verses 6 and 7 the psalmist apparently ceases to pray for himself and prays instead that God will "increase the days of the king's life, his years for many generations," that he will be "enthroned in God's presence forever" and that God will appoint his "love and faithfulness to protect him." At first glance, it seems that another hand has added these words, perhaps at a later date, and that is the way many commentators have understood them. Yet it can also be argued that David is writing about himself as king, merely switching to the third from the first person for stylistic effect. The last verse seems to imply this since it returns to the first person, promising that the speaker will praise God if the earlier petition is answered. David could do that if God prolonged his reign for generations.

What I want us to notice about Psalm 61 today is that its second stanza adds to the image of God as David's rock by four metaphors that elaborate what God is to his trusting people. God is so great that any number of images might be provided at this point. What is significant about these four images is that they are arranged to become increasingly warm and intimate.

It's important to notice the image David uses for God in verse 2, calling him "the rock that is higher than I." The idea of God being a rock is common in the psalms, appearing twenty times.1 In fact, it occurs three times in the next psalm, Psalm 62. We have already looked at it at some length in our study of Psalm 18, where alone it is used four times in an interesting progressive sequence: “The LORD is my rock (v. 2); “My God is my rock” (v. 2); Who is the Rock except our God?” (v. 31); and “Praise be to my Rock” (v. 46)!

In the Trinity Hymnal, the hymnbook we use in our church, William O. Cushing's hymn "O safe to the rock that is higher than I" is linked to Psalm 94 because of verse 22, which speaks of God as a rock of refuge. But it is hard to read Psalm 61 without supposing that Cushing had it in mind, rather than Psalm 94, when he composed the hymn.