PSALM 61 OVERVIEW
Title. To the Chief Musician upon Neginah, a Psalm of David. The original indicates that both the hymn and the musical instrument were David's. He wrote the verses and himself sang them to the stringed instrument whose sound he loved so well. We have left the Psalms entitled Michtam, but we shall still find much precious meaning though the golden name be wanting. We have met with the title of this Psalm before, in Psalms 4, 6, 54, and 55, but with this difference, that in the present case the word is in the singular number: the Psalm itself is very personal, and well adapted for the private devotion of a single individual.
Subject and Division. This Psalm is a pearl. It is little, but precious. To many a mourner it has furnished utterance when the mind could not have devised a speech for itself. It was evidently composed by David after he had come to the throne, -- see Ps 61:6. The second verse leads us to believe that it was written during the psalmist's enforced exile from the tabernacle, which was the visible abode of God: if so, the period of Absalom's rebellion has been most suitably suggested as the date of its authorship, and Delitzsch is correct in entitling it, "Prayer and thanksgiving of an expelled King on his way back to his throne." We might divide the verses according to the sense, but it is preferable to follow the author's own arrangement, and make a break at each SELAH.
Verse 1. Hear my cry, O God. He was in terrible earnest; he shouted, he lifted up his voice on high. He is not however content with the expression of his need: to give his sorrows vent is not enough for him, he wants actual audience of heaven, and manifold succour as the result. Pharisees may rest in their prayers; true believers are eager for an answer to them: ritualists may be satisfied when they have, "said or sung" their litanies and collects, but living children of God will never rest till their supplications have entered the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth.
Attend unto my prayer. Give it thy consideration, and such an answer as thy wisdom sees fit. When it comes to crying with us, we need not doubt but that it will come to attending with God. Our heavenly Father is not hardened against the cries of his own children. What a consoling thought it is that the Lord at all times hears his people's cries, and is never forgetful of their prayers; whatever else fails to move him, praying breath is never spent in vain!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. The word Neginah (the singular of Neginoth) may be understood to be synonymous with the kinnor or harp: that is to say, the instrument of eight strings, probably played with a bow or plectrum. John Jess.
Verse 1. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. Aquinas saith that some read the words thus, Intende ad cantica mea, attend unto my songs -- and so the words may be safely read, from the Hebrew word hgr ranah, which signifies to shout or shrill out for joy -- to note that the prayers of the saints are like pleasant songs and delightful ditties in the ears of God. No mirth, no music, can be so pleasing to us as the prayers of the saints are pleasing to God. Song of Solomon 2:14 Psalms 141:2 . Thomas Brooks.
Verse 1. My cry. There is a text in Job where the "hypocrites in heart" are spoken of condemningly, because "they cry not when he bindeth them." I like to feel that no hard fortitude is required of the chastened child of God, but that it ought to feel, and may cry, under the rod, without a single rebellious thought. Mary B. M. Duncan.
Verse 1-2. One ejaculation begetteth another. Hear my cry; attend unto my prayer (yet no words thereof mentioned); and Psalms 61:2 . From the end of the earth will I cry: he had thus cried, and he will therefore cry again and again. As billows of temptation ever and anon stop his mouth and interrupt him, so as he now and then doth but peep above water, and get breathing space, he will thus cry, Lead me, or "guide me," or carry me to yonder rock which is higher than
- Thomas Cobbet (1608-1686), on Prayer.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Whole Psalm. The progressive I wills.
- I will cry.
- I will abide in thy tabernacle.
- I will trust.
- I will sing praise.
Verse 1. Answers to prayer to be earnestly sought.
- What hinders the answer of prayer?
- What is our duty when answers are denied?
- What encouragements we have to believe that the delay
is only temporary.