David began Psalm 61 asking God to hear his prayer “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help” (61:2). Perhaps David was far away physically from Jerusalem, far away from where the Ark of God was located when he cried out. Or perhaps David sensed in his heart that he was far away from God, and longed to have that sense of nearness restored.
Most of us know what it is to feel distant from God, to have an at-the-ends-of-the-earth experience in which we feel that God is far away. In this psalm, David shows us how to overcome the distance that intrudes in our relationship with God. “I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me” (61: 2-3).
David cried out to the God he knew as a Rock of safety, a Refuge, a Fortress. He knew that God was not a faraway, uncaring deity, but a caring and capable Protector whom he could run to in the midst of his alienation.
More then that, he seems to have recognized that God’s promises of safety and refuge would find their fulfillment in a King who would be greater than he was. This King would not be a distant deity but a King who will come to his people. He will not live in a palace. In fact, he will not even have a home. He will not be served, but will serve. He will not be crowned in honor, but crowned with thorns in disgrace. He will not wear a robe but will be hung on a cross.
This is what it cost our true King to come to our aid when we cry to him for help. This is what it cost to have our alienation from God eradicated and our nearness to God restored. This is how good our King Jesus is – he overcame the distance between heaven and earth, between God and man, to come to our aid.
When we join ourselves to King Jesus, we too can overcome the distance between ourselves and a holy God. Because of Jesus we not only have the hope of feeling close to God, we have an open invitation to boldly draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).
In a time that many of us feel distant from everyone and everything, how comforting it is to know that our God went to such great lengths, so that we can be close to Him now and always.
Prayer – My towering Rock of safety, my safe Refuge, my Fortress, I am hiding in you where my enemies of self-centeredness and pride and self-sufficiency cannot alienate me from you. You draw me close and hold me tight. How good it is to know that I am under your protection forever.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.