The subtitle to David’s Psalm states, “Confidence in God’s protection.” Some may wonder why studies and sermons are presented from the Old Testament. “After all, we are under the New Covenant. The mystery of the ages has been revealed in Jesus Christ! Why look back?”
Of course one reason is that Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” God’s revelation in the Bible expands and reveals God’s will, and the principles are the same in both the Old and the New Testament. Some have believed that the God in the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. That has never been true, and such a belief shows a lack of understanding of the teaching of the Bible in its entirety.
But there is another reason why a study of the Old Testament scriptures, especially the Psalms, can be so rewarding. The inspired writers recorded their thoughts, their feeling, and their experiences of life. Any reader in any age can identify with their wonderful words of poetry and song.
In fact, the Psalms can be regarded as a manual on life. Living today may seem to be different from the times in the Old and New Testaments, but the personal experiences of life have always been the same. When letters, scrolls, or tablets from long vanished empires have been translated, the writers were dealing with the same problems. A mother was concerned with a son’s choice of a wife. Another was anxious to share the latest gossip. Still another complained about dealing with government officials. Technology and styles may changes, but the inner person has always remained the same.
Psalm 61 is a perfect example of this. What most good people want is simply a place where they can make their homes, work, raise their children, find contentment, and enjoy their lives. But it becomes quickly apparent that there is a “wrongness” within the world. People’s lives can be shattered by war, sudden random violence, illness, a terrible accident, betrayal, confrontation, etc. The list is endless. Someone creates a thing of beauty, and someone else may tear it down.
Of course Christians know that the source of suffering in the world is Satan – the ruler of this world. Yet, what are godly people to do? Christians live in the world. Christians literally dwell in enemy territory. When a person reflects on the evil and suffering that exist, the result may be fear and dismay. Who can stand against the great forces in the world?
David faced the same problems, because Satan was every bit as active in his time as today. But he did not give up. Instead David wrote, “Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.”
Nothing in this world will provide complete protection. All physical remedies will eventually fail, because nothing remains the same in this life. People are born, mature, age, and die. So the solution is not physical, but spiritual. To find true, lasting protection, people need something that is unchanging, that is good and holy. That can only be found in the power of the Living God.
Without God, there is no hope. The god of this world is powerful. But God set His plan – His Plan of Redemption – into motion. Like a flower, its beauty opened up in the Old and New Testaments until the final victory was shown in Jesus Christ. In verses 5-7, David wrote, “For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be as many generations. He will abide before God forever…..” Jewish scholars clearly saw that as a reference to the Messiah, and David’s hope would be fully realized through the culmination of God’s Plan. In Christ, any person can be joined to God. In Christ, any person can be added to His family; and once that occurs, the power of Satan is broken!
Yes, Christians still live in the enemy’s territory, but as long as Christians love the Lord, desire to please Him, and make the commitment to grow, then nothing can sever that relationship. God’s strength will protect His children.
In Romans 8:33-39, Paul wrote, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, for your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes, God is the refuge, the tower of strength against the enemy. That fact has been made very clear in the New Testament. The Christian’s responsibility is to grow in faith, grow in knowledge and understanding, and reach out to those who are still in the grip of the evil in this world.