John T. Willis

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Psalm 61

Psalm 61 is brief, and thus is difficult to subdivide. The author seems to be one of the kings of Judah (note verses 6-7). Like all of God's people, the king is completely dependent on Yahweh in all circumstances of life; and the composer of this psalm declares that truth joyfully and loudly.

"Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So I will always sing praises to your name,
as I pay my vows day after day."

1. Although the author is a king, he depends totally on God to give him life daily (verse 6), and on God's steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him and protect him at all times (verse 7; see Psalms 89:1-4, 24, 28, 33; 117:1-2), and thus he prays that God will listen to his prayers and answer his petitions (verses 1-2b).
2. This king uses four metaphors to describe God:
a. God is a rock that is higher than I [the king]--verse 2c-d. The Hebrew Bible often compares God with a huge rock behind which one may find protection, and upon which one can rise above the chaotic floods of life below (see Psalms 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14; 27:5; 31:2; 62:2, 6-7; and often).
b. God is a refuge (verses 3-4) within which one can hide from threatening dangers (see Psalms 5:11; 18:2; 46:1, 7, 11; 62:7-8; and often).
c. God is a strong tower (verse 3) which provides protection against all evil forces and beings (see Proverbs 18:10).
d. God is a mother hen who takes her chicks under her wings for protection from any and all would-be assailants (verse 4b; see Isaiah 31:5; Luke 13:34).
3. This king is constantly aware that he does what he does "before God" (verse 7a; see Genesis 17:1). All human beings live their lives "before God" whether they realize it or not.
May God help us realize how dependent we are on him, and to sing praises to his name for his constant presence and care.

John Willis

Max Lucado

My wife and I were delighted when we received our May 2005 Reader's Digest and learned that the editors had selected Max Lucado as Best Preacher in America for the year 2005. Their words on page 158 are these:

"Don't expect much pulpit-pounding at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. 'I used to be louder and rougher on people,' says Max Lucado, 50, who's led the 5,000-member congregation since 1988. 'Now I realize how much God has forgiven me.' His belief in second chances is pretty personal: As a young man he struggled with drinking and drifted from his faith. After the Bible urged him back, he attended seminary, did mission work in Brazil, and began writing a series of Christian bestsellers. The overall message? 'God's in the business of giving mulligans,' he explains."

Max is a man of character, creativity, courage, and compassion. His most powerful supporters are his wife Denalyn, his three daughters Jenna, Andrea, and Sara, his staff, and a church with a huge heart for God and for people in all kinds of need--the Oak Hills forever family in San Antonio.

Max and family: we are so proud of you. We pray God's richest blessings on you. May he give you insights, boldness, just the right words at the right time, and daily assurance of his presence.

Love and peace in Christ,

John and Evelyn Willis