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.

What is in David's mind at this time? Or to put it differently, what lessons is he learning as he reflects, first on the people's defeat by Edom and, second, on the promises of God to give an eventual victory? It seems to me that there are two of them.

The second section of the psalm contains an appeal to God to help those who have been attacked by the Edomites (v. 5), followed by God's answer in the form of an oracle (vv. 6-8). The oracle follows so closely upon the appeal that we know that faith has already won a victory.