Read Psalm 61
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.
According to dictionary.com, overwhelmed means to be “overpowered…to be buried or drown beneath.” Most people feel overwhelmed at some point in their life. Many of us woke up today feeling overwhelmed, buried beneath responsibilities and unpredictabilities that seem insurmountable. What can we do when we feel like life’s realities are overpowering our abilities?
David’s example in Psalm 61 provides some guidance. As we read, we can almost picture David in a hole with sand spilling over the edge, quickly rising, while he pleads for God to notice him. When we are overwhelmed, it can feel like we are alone, unnoticed, or suffocating as life piles more and more and more onto us. When David feels this way, he asks God to guide him to “the safety of a rock that is high above me.” When we are down in the trenches, feeling buried beneath life, we may not see how to escape.
But God sees all⏤before and beyond⏤so He can lead us in the steps to climb up and out. While He may not stop the spilling sand, He can guide us around it or through it. We can visualize David stepping on a crack in the edge of the hole, shaking sand from his hair as he grips the edges of the slope. He carefully places his hands and feet on each place God lights. So often, this is how God guides us from the hole of overwhelm⏤slowly, steadily, sturdily. Oh, how we wish He would just pull us from the pit and place us in protection instantly! Sometimes He does. But something special happens as we carefully clamber up⏤our strength and faith grow as we climb, step by step.
When we listen to God’s voice and follow His lead, God reminds us of who He is and what He has done. David remembers how God has saved him before and how secure he felt in God’s presence and provision. This marks a shift in the song and in our perspective. We realize, as David realized, that we are not alone. We are noticed. We are loved. We are cared for. We, like David, can praise God for His faithfulness, love, and care.
- We each experience the feeling of overwhelm in different ways. Think of a time when you were overwhelmed. How did it feel? Did it feel like you were drowning? Falling? Buried? Weighted down?
- What brought you out of the overwhelm? Was it an instant escape or a slow trudge?
- How can David’s experience in Psalm 61 and your own past experiences give you hope when you feel overwhelmed?
“It is hard to pray when the very heart is drowning, yet gracious men plead best at such times. Tribulation brings us to God, and brings God to us. Faith’s greatest triumphs are achieved in her heaviest trials.”
Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 61:2