“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 have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!” (Psalm 61:1-4).
You can cry out to God and cling to these images of God in the Psalm because of what Christ has done for us. The same God that David knew we know in a much more intimate and powerful way, because we know him in the Lord Jesus Christ who fulfills every image of this Psalm: In the words of James Montgomery Boice:
“Jesus is our refuge, but not only a refuge from human enemies and foes. He is a refuge from the wrath of God to be poured out at the final judgment. He is our tower that we can run into and be safe. He is our tabernacle. The apostle John used this very word when he wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In the Greek the words “made his dwelling” are literally “tabernacled.” Jesus is the one who said of the city of Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37).
JESUS IS THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I! Jesus is the Rock of Ages. He is very God of very God as we confess. And he fulfills every image of this Psalm. But he is also the rock that was cleft for you and me as we sing: “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee, let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.”
Jesus was the rock that was broken for you and me. He is the one who was truly brought to an end of the earth experience on the cross where he cried out “my God, my God, O why have you forsaken me” (Matt. 27:46) i.e. why are you so far from me! And he prayed “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46), trusting his Father to the end. And God heard his cries for deliverance and raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand. And because of Jesus’ end of the earth experience we will never truly be distant from God. It may feel that way at times but in fact God dwells within us. In Jesus, God tabernacled among us and by His Spirit he tabernacles within us (John 1:14; 1 Cor. 6:19). And Jesus promised us, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). So you see, no matter how distant we feel from God, the truth is he will never leave us or forsake us. He is as near to us as the Word that is preached and he dwells within us by His Holy Spirit (Rom. 10:8; Gal. 4:6).
And Jesus is coming again to usher in the fullness of God’s presence in the new heavens and new earth:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1-4).
We may at times feel distant from God in the Christian life, but cling to Jesus by faith, for He is the rock that is higher than I. Once again in the words of James Montgomery Boice: “Sometimes we need to feel we are at “the ends of the earth” before we can discover how wonderful Jesus is.