This psalm forms a chiastic structure:
1a) Psa 61:1-2, Hear my cry, O God, attend to my prayer;
1b) Psa 61:3-4, You have sheltered me so that I abide in Your tabernacle forever;
central axis) Psa 61:5, “For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name;”
2b) Psa 61:6-7, You will prolong the king’s life and he shall abide before God forever;
2a) Psa 61:8, Hear my praise sung to Your name forever.
David was crazy in love with the Lord His God and sought after being in His presence — the meaning of abiding in His tabernacle. David did not just want to be in church, He wanted to be in the Lord’s presence. The presence of the Lord dwelt above the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, in between the cherubim.
Have you ever wondered, since David was so highly favored and a man after God’s own heart, why his life contained so many trials, so many enemies, so many fearful and impossible situations so that he had no choice but to put His trust in God, or be overwhelmed? I have.
The psalms were fruit that was borne out of the trials, enemies, and impossible situations of David’s life. The psalms are a great blessing to mankind! Yesterday I faced my heart being overwhelmed. I struggle with anxiety connected with airports, airplanes, and flying, and yesterday I had to travel by plane, from 8 am to 6 pm. If I am with my husband or a family member, it is not so bad, but yesterday I was alone, through three airports and two airplanes. I battled that feeling that “I am overwhelmed, I am not going to be able to do this” all day.
Psa 61 got me through. (“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I!”) Psa 23 got me through. (“Thou art with me! Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me!”) The Lord with me got me through. Okay, so fear of flying might be a little thing compared to trials that others face. But because David faced trials, and God showed Himself strong on David’s behalf, mankind has the blessing of the psalms to draw upon when facing any trial.
Sometimes, what I am going through, is not about me. Sometimes it is about you, or someone else in my life or who will be in my life, who will be served because I went through what I went through.
When we take up our cross and follow Him, we walk in His footsteps. He came to serve and not be served. He suffered and died for our sake, not for His sake. Our comfort in this life might not be God’s first goal for us! But suffering and death is not the end of the story! RESURRECTION LIFE waits for us; an eternal weight of glory waits for us! Dwelling in the Lord’s presence forever waits for us!
And also, David is a type of Messiah. He suffered at the hands of enemies just as Messiah did. He reigned as king just as Messiah will! (The central axis of this psalm is a Messianic prophecy!)