Psalm 61: The Higher Rock

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.

–Psalm 61:1,2 (ESV)

Through words of both lament and praise, Psalm 61 extols the Lord as the Guardian and Protector of his people.  David describes God as his guide and his “rock” (v. 2), his “refuge” and “strong tower” (v. 3), and his host and guardian (“Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings,” v. 4).  In v. 5, the psalmist thanks the Lord for hearing his vows, and for giving him “the heritage of those who fear your name.”  The psalmist’s request is that God would “prolong the life of the king” and “appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him” (v. 7).  In response, David promises to display his gratitude by singing praises to the Lord and performing his vows “day by day” (v. 8).

109, “O God, Regard My Humble Plea”

While the first half of number 109 is undoubtedly solid, the third and fourth verses drift a little bit in their treatment of Psalm 61:6,7.  The authors of this versification chose to interpret this section as a reference to the singer himself, largely ignoring its royal (not to mention messianic) elements.  At the very least, the text could use some significant revisions.

“O God, Regard My Humble Plea” possesses as its tune one of Lowell Mason’s noble offerings, MERIBAH.  The well-structured rhythm and expansive harmonies are reminiscent of some of Mason’s other melodies, such as RIPLEY (301).  There’s not much else to be said about MERIBAH—it’s simple, beautiful, and easy to sing.  Just enjoy it!

O God, regard my humble plea;
I cannot be so far from Thee
But Thou wilt hear my cry;
When I by trouble am distressed,
Then lead me on the rock to rest
That higher is than I.

–MRK

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