Theme: Enthroned in God’s Presence Forever
In this week’s lessons we are reminded that God is a rock to which we can turn, a rock higher and wiser and stronger than we are ourselves.
Scripture: Psalm 61:1-8
In verses 6 and 7 the psalmist apparently ceases to pray for himself and prays instead that God will “increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations,” that he will be “enthroned in God’s presence forever” and that God will appoint his “love and faithfulness to protect him.” At first glance, it seems that another hand has added these words, perhaps at a later date, and that is the way many commentators have understood them. Yet it can also be argued that David is writing about himself as king, merely switching to the third from the first person for stylistic effect. The last verse seems to imply this since it returns to the first person, promising that the speaker will praise God if the earlier petition is answered. David could do that if God prolonged his reign for generations.
Yet this must also be said: Whether this prayer was by David or is for David, ultimately it is about and is fulfilled in the Messiah. “Increase the days of the king’s life”? That can easily be understood of an earthly king. “His years for many generations”? That too perhaps, by stretching things a little. But not, “May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever,” at least not if that is literally understood.
And it probably should be. I say that, because this is the way David responded when God sent Nathan to him to promise that a descendant of his would sit upon his throne forever: “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12, 13). Some of that might be understood to have been fulfilled in Solomon, David’s immediate successor. But not the forever part, which David seems to have recognized since he responded, “Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD” (v. 19)?
Nothing merely of man lasts forever. So if God was promising a forever kingdom, it must be a kingdom to be established and maintained by a divine Messiah, who is God become man. The promise made to David was about the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if this is what David was thinking about in Psalm 61, the psalm is another of the Messianic psalms.
What change in language do we notice in verses 6 and 7? Why does David make this switch?
How does Jesus fulfill David’s prayer?
Reflection: Although nothing of man lasts forever, that does not keep people from trying to make them last. What are some things people hope can last forever? In viewing them like this, how can these things become idols that pull us away from what does last forever?