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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 61

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-8

Psalms 61:0

To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David

1          Hear my cry, O God;

Attend unto my prayer.

2     From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3     For thou hast been a shelter for me,

And a strong tower from the enemy.

4     I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:

I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

5     For thou, O God, hast heard my vows:

Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.

6     Thou wilt prolong the king’s life:

And his years as many generations.

7     He shall abide before God for ever:

O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.

8     So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever,

That I may daily perform my vows.


Its Contents and Composition—The Psalmist calls from afar for deliverance to God (Psalms 61:1-2), who has previously afforded it to him (Psalms 61:3), and he prays for shelter and protection in God’s tent (Psalms 61:4), on the ground of previous special tokens of grace (Psalms 61:5). Upon this is based the prayer for special blessings for the king (Psalms 61:6-7), for which the Psalmist will offer without cessation the thanksgiving he has vowed (Psalms 61:8). Although the king is referred o in the third person, this does not necessarily show that he and the Psalmist are two different persons. The objection that such a petition in he mouth of the speaker would be immodest, amounts to nothing, when we consider that the contents of the prayer refer to the eternal royal position before God’s face and the worthy fulfilment of this position as well as enduring establishment in it by Divine blessing. The king thus praying gives his petition naturally and involuntarily a more objective form, and if we hold fast to its composition by David, and accordingly refer Psalms 61:5 to the special promise, 2 Samuel 7:0, it has likewise a prophetic character. It is unnecessary, therefore, to put this verse into the mouth of a chorus (Paulus), which Psalms 61:2 would not allow, or to understand this of the dynasty of David (Hengstenberg), or the rule of the Messiah (many of the older interpreters after the Chald.), which would be against the wording and context. It thus resembles Psalms 21:0 Since now the expression: to be a guest in the tent of God, is entirely in David’s style (Psalms 15:0), and the “end of the earth” can be satisfactorily explained, there is no reason to give up the statement of the title, and think of a prophet under King Josiah and his successors at the time of the exile at Babylon (Ewald), or of a priest in a Jewish colony living among the heathen in the time of the Seleucidæ (Hitzig), or a poet living in a distant land, perhaps in banishment (Hupfeld), or indeed of King Cyrus (Böttcher).

Str. I. Psa 61:2. From the end of the earth.—This is an expression for the greatest distance from the dwelling of God, as the place of protection, help and salvation, not indeed mathematically, but in accordance with the feelings, but yet on a geographical foundation in accordance with the ideas of the Israelites, not in contrast to heaven and its centre=out from the earth (Luther), or out of the uttermost depths of the earth (Clauss), but in contrast to Zion as the middle of the earth (Psalms 74:12; Ezekiel 5:5), and in connection with the usage of the language, in accordance with which the land to the east of the Jordan did not belong to the land of Canaan in the strictest sense (Numbers 32:29 sq.), and a foreign land included generally the idea of banishment from the face of God (Psalms 42:0). We have therefore properly to think of the abode of David in the district of Gilead at the time of his flight before Absalom, and the translation: from the end of the land (Geier, et al ), is to be rejected.—In the covering of my heart.—[This word is used of covering with a garment, of clothing the valleys with corn, Ps. 65:14, etc. Thus by a natural metaphor of clothing the mind or soul, covering it over, enveloping it, clouding it with care, anxiety, trouble, Psalms 102:1; Isaiah 57:16.—Upon a rock, too high for me.—A rock which was inaccessible to him by his own power, and hence still more inaccessible to his enemies. The high rock is a usual figure of security, comp. Psalms 27:5.

Psalms 61:3. A strong tower before the face of the enemy.—Comp. Judges 9:51; Proverbs 18:10. This is parallel with the high rock, both of which afford a sure refuge before the enemy. They are alike inaccessible to him.—C. A. B.]

[Str. II. Psa 61:4. Let me be a guest.—Compare Psalms 15:1; Psalms 27:4.—In Thy tent.—Perowne: “The expression is figurative, no doubt, but would hardly have been employed after the Temple was built, and hence it is almost certain that the Psalm belongs to the time of David.”—Forever—Hupfeld: “The plural עוֹלָמים is not used with reference to the double eternity of this and the future life, as the Rabbins, but instead of the singular עולָם, usually עוֹלָם וָעֶד.” The reference is entirely personal.—Let me find refuge in the shelter of Thy wings.—Comp. Psalms 17:8; Psalms 57:1. Perowne thinks the reference here is evidently to the outstretched wings of the cherubim, but it is better to think of the more simple figure of the hen, or eagle, as in the other passages.

Psalms 61:5. The possession of those that fear Thy name.—Perowne: “Primarily this would be the land of Canaan, and then it would include all blessings, temporal and spiritual, which were in fact implied and comprised in the possession of the land.—C. A. B.]

[Str. III. Psa 61:6-7. Add days to the days of the king! (May) his years (be) as generation and generation. May he sit (enthroned) before God’s face, appoint grace and truth that they may guard him.—The king David here prays that he as the anointed of Jehovah may have a long life, seeing one generation after another, that he may sit on his throne enjoying the sunshine of God’s countenance, and that God’s grace and truth may be the appointed guards, to stand at the side of his throne, to protect him from his enemies and rebellious subjects. David, realizing that he is the anointed of the Lord, does not always distinguish between himself and the Messianic dynasty, so that the latter thought fills up as it were the background of his consciousness. The translation of the A. V., Perowne, Alexander, et al. of the verbs as futures of confident expectation, is not so good, The translation given above is essentially that of Hupfeld and Moll.—C. A. B.]


1. It is worse to be separated from the house of God than it is to be far from home. When the pious experience both painfully, they long above all in hope of return to the former. But where ever we may be on earth, we can call upon God and implore in prayer, with the assurance of faith, the consolation of the Divine promises and the assistance of Divine help in order to a deliverance unattainable by our own power.

2. The faith of an afflicted man finds great strength in looking at previous exhibitions of Divine help in words and deeds, and arises on this foundation not unfrequently to the boldest hopes of faith, especially to the desire for a communion with God, which reaches from time into eternity, and to the prayer for the blessings necessary thereto. For the possession of the promised land secured to those who fear God and allotted to them, forms the foundation, the sweet pledge, the symbolical type of the inheritance involved in it.


Fresh hopes spring forth from experiences of grace, and when prayer is heard anew, new vows are entwined with the thanksgivings to which we have been accustomed of old.—A long life is a blessing only when grace and truth are its guardians.—Communion with God is best strengthened by prefering to be a guest in the house of God.—Our welfare is best provided for when we are provided with the good things of the house of God.—God sees us and hears us everywhere, but He prefers to see us in His house and in His ways.—Children of God need to pray likewise for temporal welfare and earthly good things, but their special desire is for communion with their God.—Communion with God is spiritually attained through grace and faith in the heart; it presents itself as intercourse with God in prayer and the service of God; it is accomplished as an eternal sitting on a throne before God’s face with submission to God’s grace and truth—He who would gain abiding blessings, must not only flee to God’s protection, but must keep himself at the house of God and allow himself to be led in his calling by God’s grace and truth.—It is likewise the king’s honor and surest gain to show himself to be a servant of God.

Starke: God is to us all things and will be all by faith.—God is more inclined to hear our prayers than we are to send them up to Him.—The reward which the God-fearing are to receive, is not based on their own merits, but God’s gracious promises.

Frisch: To lift up holy hands is everywhere good and nowhere fruitless.—Franke: So long as we have an earthly mind, we have a heart unfaithful to God.—Arndt: We are so much indebted to God that we should pay something daily.—Tholuck The inheritance of those who fear God is His rich grace.—Taube: Truly it is equally far from earth to heaven in all places, and God is everywhere near those who call upon Him.

[Matt. Henry: That which separates us from our other comforts, should drive us so much nearer to God, the fountain of all comfort.—Weeping must quicken praying, and not deaden it.—We need not desire to be better secured than under the protection of God’s mercy and truth.—Spurgeon: Tribulation brings us to God, and brings God to us. Faith’s greatest triumphs are achieved in her heaviest trials.—How infinitely higher than we are is the salvation of God We are low and grovelling, but it towers like some tall cliff far above us.—Experience is the nurse of faith. From the past we gather arguments for present confidence.—He who communes with God is always at home.—There should be a parallel between our supplications and our thanksgivings. We ought not to leap in prayer, and limp in praise.—C. A. B.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 61". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-61.html. 1857-84.
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