Psalm #61

Rock of Ages

In the 2012 U.S. presidential race there was a ‘mockumentary’ that asked the question: ‘Why would anyone run for president?’  The conclusion was that presidential candidates fit into two categories.  Either you are a saint, a person without concern for yourself who wants to be president in order to help the people of your country, or, more often, you are a pathological narcissist who has no concern for other people, is worried about physical appearance, and requires constant adulation.  Well, you can draw your own conclusions about the accuracy of those results in recent elections!

In Israel’s history, David was regarded as the first kind of leader.  Here was a man after God’s own heart who loved and led his people with wisdom, passion, humility, and faith.  (Though David too had some significant failures during his reign).

This psalm purports to be a psalm of David and it reflects his character – his readiness to call on God in times of testing and trials. 

David knows that God alone is his true source of help and strength.  He illustrates this dependence by his confession of faith:  God is my rock (v.2), my refuge (v.3), my strong tower or strength (v.3). 

I am drawn to the image of the ‘rock,’ an important image in David’s and Israel’s life. 

In 2 Samuel 24, David buys ‘a rock’ on which to build an altar to YHWH.  It is on this rock that Solomon will build his temple.  And it is here that today the Dome of the Rock mosque stands, a sight sacred to Muslims. 

Throughout the Psalms, David keeps coming back to this basic image: 

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?         [Ps. 18.1]

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.        [Ps. 95.1]


Jesus also used ‘rock’ as a memorable image in Matthew 7.24-25.

        24 “Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock.


While the image of God as rock is a great comfort to us, perhaps this psalm can also remind us of its significance for leaders.  No matter where he was, David could pray for God’s commitment and truthfulness to protect him.

Perhaps as we pray this psalm we can use it as a guide to pray for our leaders as well.