Bible Commentaries
Psalms 61

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2964. B.C. 1040.

The occasion of this Psalm is very doubtful; but it seems to have been some great distress of David’s, either by Saul, or by Absalom; though it might be composed some time after that distress was past. David, in great danger, flees to God for deliverance, upon experience of his former goodness, Psalms 61:1-3 . Resolves to trust in him, and promises him perpetual service for his hearing his prayers, Psalms 61:4 , Psalms 61:5 . Praises him from an assurance of future blessings, Psalms 61:6-8 .

Verses 2-3

Psalms 61:2-3. From the end of the earth Or rather, of the land, to which, it seems, David had been driven by the violence of his enemies; will I cry unto thee And not to other gods, but to thee only. It is our happiness that, wherever we are, we may have liberty of access to God, and may find a way open to a throne of grace. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I Convey to a place of safety, where mine enemies cannot approach to hurt me: take me under thy peculiar care and protection. He alludes to their custom of securing themselves in rocks. God’s power and promise are a rock that is higher than we. In these we must take refuge, and in these must we abide. Christ is the rock of our salvation, and they, and only they, are safe that are in him. But we cannot get upon this rock unless God lead us by his power. I will put thee in the cleft of the rock We should therefore, by faith and prayer, put ourselves under the divine conduct, that we may be taken under the divine protection. For thou hast been a shelter to me I have found in thee a rock higher than I, therefore I trust thou wilt still lead me to that rock. Our past experience of the benefit of trusting in God, as it should engage us still to keep close to him, so it should encourage us to hope that it will not be in vain. Thou hast been my strong tower from the enemy, and thou art as strong as ever, and thy name as much a refuge for the righteous as ever it was, Proverbs 18:10.

Verse 4

Psalms 61:4. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever I shall, I doubt not, be restored to thy tabernacle, from which I am now banished, and, according to the desire of my heart, worship and enjoy thee there all my days. Thus he determines that the service of God shall be his constant business; and all those must make it so who expect to find God their shelter and strong tower. None but his servants have the benefit of his protection. David speaks of abiding in God’s tabernacle for ever, because it was a type and figure of heaven, Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:24. And those that dwell in his tabernacle, as it is a house of duty, during the short time of their abode on earth, shall dwell in that tabernacle which is a house of glory during an endless eternity. I will trust in the covert of thy wings In the mean time, while I am in danger and trouble, I will cast myself upon thy protection with full confidence. This advantage they have that abide in God’s tabernacle; that in the time of trouble he shall there hide them. And those that have found God a shelter to them, ought still to have recourse to him in all their straits.

Verse 5

Psalms 61:5. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows My fervent prayers, attended with vows and promises, as was usual, especially in cases of great danger or difficulty. Thou hast taken notice of them; thou hast accepted them, because they were made in sincerity, and hast been well pleased with them. We ought always to remember that God is a witness to all our vows, all our good purposes, and solemn promises of new obedience. He keeps an account of them, which should be a sufficient reason with us (as it was with David here) why we should perform our vows. For he that hears the vows we make, will cause us to hear from him if they be not made good. Thou hast given me the heritage, &c. Thou hast allotted me my portion with and among them that fear and worship thee, who are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight, and upon that account I must acknowledge it to thy praise, that I have a goodly heritage. Thou hast granted me this singular mercy, to live in thy land, to enjoy thy presence, and to worship in thy tabernacle; which is the heritage which all, that fear thee, prize and desire above all things.

Verses 6-8

Psalms 61:6-8. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life My life. He calls himself king, either, 1st, Because, if this Psalm was composed before Saul’s death, yet even then he knew he was designed and appointed to be king; or, rather, 2d, Because it was not composed till Saul was dead, and he was actually crowned king, at least of Judah. And his years The years of my life and reign; as many generations As long as if I had a lease of it for many ages. Thus he speaks, because his kingdom was not like Saul’s, but established to him and his heirs; and because Christ, his Son and Heir, should actually, and in his own person, possess the kingdom for ever. We may observe further here, that the Chaldee Paraphrase adds the word Christ; thus, Thou shalt give unto Christ the King days upon days. His years shall be as the generations of this world, and the generations of the world to come. And so Theodoret observes, that the former part of the verse may very well agree with the psalmist, but that the latter part of it is by no means applicable to him, but only to Christ; who was, according to the flesh, to descend from him, and of whom the psalmist was an eminent type. He shall abide Hebrew, ישׁב , jesheeb, he shall sit; namely, on the throne; before God for ever Living and ruling as in God’s presence, serving him with his royal power, and worshipping him in his tabernacle. O prepare mercy and truth Or, order, or appoint, as the word מן , man, here signifies, intending, either, 1st, The graces of mercy, or compassion and truth, or faithfulness, which are the great supporters of thrones; or rather, the effects of God’s mercy and truth. Thy truth, in giving me those mercies which thou hast promised to me; and thy mercy, in giving me such further blessings as I need, and thou seest fit to give me. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever I will never cease praising thee while I live, and after I die, I shall praise thee in eternity. Let us remember, we must make praising God the work of our time in this world; even to the last, as long as our lives are prolonged, we must continue praising him; and then it will be made the work of our eternity in the world to come, and we shall be praising him for ever. That 1 may daily perform my vows That I may pay unto thee those services and oblations which I vowed to thee, when I was in trouble. David’s praising God was itself the performance of his vows, and it disposed his heart to the performance of them in other instances. Praising God, and paying our vows to him, must be our constant daily work; every day we must be doing something toward it; because it is all but little in comparison with what is due; because we daily receive fresh mercies, and because, if we think much to do it daily we cannot expect to be doing it eternally.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 61". Benson's Commentary. 1857.