Can you recall a time you fainted?
When I was a kid I used to faint quite often when hit on the head, probably due to a surgery. I hate fainting, especially that moment just before the lights go out when I realize it is happening and everything starts to fade. At that moment, I feel totally unable to control anything and I feel completely weak. How glad I am that I grew up (or at least that my skull bone did).
Though unknown to us, in Psalm 61, David recalls a time when his circumstance(s) caused him to be emotionally and spiritually faint. “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.” God seemed distant. Verses 6-7 may hint there was a threat against his regency, “Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!”
We all know about fainting moments, don’t we? We have more expenses than income and our knees begin to shake. We have a troubled relationship and we can’t think straight. Should I mention the pandemic?
Psalm 61 teaches us how to pray. David pours out his heart with enthusiasm and boldness, he makes his requests known, and, in the words of Tim Keller, he “piles up images.”
The images are of God Himself and they color his prayer-offering and response. As you read Psalm 61, underline these images, and thank God for who He is. God is: a high rock to see more clearly, a refuge—strong tower—against enemies, our dwelling companion, a shelter for safety, a generous giver of inheritance, and steadfast in love and faithfulness. Ultimately, these are all fulfilled in Jesus Christ, e.g., He is our Rock. Speaking of Israel’s wanderings, Paul says, “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
A special feature of Psalm 61 is the connection of the fear of the LORD to His name (vss. 5,8)—that deep reverence and joy in God through Christ. Dread is reserved for those without Christ. The name of God “calls to remembrance all [His] perfections [character qualities] and acts of deliverance.” God’s essence is His glory; His name “is the revelation of His glory.” How rich, then, is Jesus’ proclamation that He is the great I AM in John 8:58!
I can be certain with God because Scripture, rightly understood, assures me of who He is and how He works. I can bank on Him. Other “certainties” may be sinful. John Calvin wrote: “Our faith is exercised and it is the sin of the wicked to be inappropriately certain to have unwarranted confidence.” We saw this last week in Psalm 60:11, “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of men!”
Fainting these days? Don’t! Worship and trust in Christ who is a sure thing.