Our walk through life sometimes feels more like crawling across a desert: no landmarks to point out the right direction, no pit stops to provide nourishment, and no sense that the landscape is ever going to change. We don’t always experience life this way, but there are times.
In that desert dryness, when we start to get desert-desperate, the walls of pride that often keep us from calling out to God can quickly disappear. We cry out to him from our place of groping blindly in the dark, and ask him to pull us out. Get me to better ground, Lord. Pick me up from this emotional and spiritual pit.
David prayed this way in Psalm 61. “I call as my heart grows faint,” he wrote. Faint-heartedness can take many forms: we might be banging our head against a wall in our daily business; we might be feeling spiritually empty and far from God; we might be depressed. “I call as my heart grows faint.” Us too, David.
As faint-hearted David called to God, he pictured God’s help in a vivid image: “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” God’s rescue is likened to a high place, a safer plot of ground where protection comes personally from God. We know it’s personal, not just a matter of getting a benefit from a distant God, because David elaborates it to make just this point. In a progression of phrases, his language is ever more personal. First he talks of a higher rock, then of a tent to dwell in and finally, as a sheltering set of wings in which God wraps him up.
Many times, when we frantically turn to God, it’s in an impersonal mode. We want escape. We want a miracle. We aren’t necessarily looking for a relationship. But when we turn to find that rock of security, we find out that the rock is a Person. “The rock is Christ,” to draw on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:4. God hears our cries and invites us into a personal relationship with him through Jesus his Son. Jesus always lives with God his Father in a relationship of love and faithfulness (cf. Ps 61:7). He has, through his incarnation and his death, opened himself up to us so that we can share his life and call his Father our Father.
David was confident and thankful, and in return he promised his life to God. The last verse of this Psalm, however, becomes an invitation for us to do the same as David. It’s not a trade. It’s thanksgiving. We could give back to God all our life, and never find that we have come even close to giving like he does. He always give to us, every day. In response, we can only say with David,
I will ever sing in praise of your name,
and fulfill my vows day after day.