Heading for High Ground


“Hear my cry, O God, listen 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.” Psalm 61:1-2

To me, these two verses are the heart and soul of Psalm 61. Spurgeon wrote of this Psalm: “Experience is the nurse of faith.” In short, he means we gather from past arguments present confidence. We learn from our troubles, we discover God’s grace for our problems and we find growth out of our lessons.

The Psalm begins in the present tense: “Hear my cry…listen to my prayer.” And from this we get the impression of current dilemma. However, verse 1’s cry in the Hebrew is actually a cry of joy, not anguish. It’s the release after the ordeal, not while in it. The Psalmist had the trying experience, came through it, and is now showing evidence of joy after a lesson gathering process. How do I view my difficulties? Do I get bitter over painful experiences, or do I show a change of heart and education. Here are some things I picked up as tutelage for help.

First of all, I noticed that it was “from the end of the earth” he called to God. It wasn’t a moment of feeling close to Heaven; it was a time of enormous distance. And yet, the writer is expressing confidence he is never too far from where God cannot hear his plea. In the Hebrew, the word for cry in verse 2 is different than the cry of verse 1. This cry is a proclamation that comes from a problem. It’s the loud scream for help. It’s like the Psalmist realizes how far from God he is—at the end of the earth—knows he’s in trouble and screams as loud as he can for rescue. My grandson has been known to do this on occasion, when he feels in trouble and all alone. And, the minute that loud cry comes from another room, people come running to save!

Second, the Psalmist shows us the state of his heart. We’re told the cry came when the “heart is faint.” The KJV uses overwhelmed to translate the emotion, but that really doesn’t do the word faint justice in the Hebrew language. The idea of this word is utter weakness. The Message Bible describes the emotion as, “down to my last gasp.” The idea is that of a beating heart about to stop pumping blood. It’s ready to fail and give out.

How many folks, in the midst of trouble, toss in the towel and give up? Not only are they at the end of the earth—they’ve suffered an acute heart attack. This cry for help is the last gasp of effort. Don’t give up but use that last gasp as a plea to God to help save—He will hear you!

Lastly, note the direction of the cry for help—“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” The cry is not I’ll come to the rock that’s higher than I, it’s “lead me to the rock.” It’s when the individual has no strength or ability to figure out the next move. It’s the cry for a spiritual GPS: turn right and continue 500 feet to the Rock. You’ve now reached your destination! It saying, when I’m out of options and plans, when I’m confused and can’t find the path for help; come rescue me Lord and lead me to the rock. It’s there I find a defibrillator of truth, the Rock that’s higher that I—the High Ground!

J. Robert Hanson


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