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Psalm 61:1-8

SORROW’S SWEET SONG

Intro: We all know that there are times when life just plain hurts. There are times when Job 14:1, and John 16:33a become all too real. (Ill. We can all relate to that, can’t we?)


This Psalm was written by a man who was walking through one of the deepest valleys of his life. The title of this Psalm indicates that it was written by David. We do not know when it was written, but nearly all Bible scholars agree that it was written by David toward the end of his exile from Jerusalem when Absalom rebelled against him.


Absalom had done his best to take his father’s throne and his father’s life. As a result of Absalom’s actions, David had been exiled from his home and his family. David had been hunted by soldiers loyal to his own son. Absalom had done everything in his power to destroy his own father. The only reason David survived Absalom’s revolt was the grace of God.


When this Psalm was written, the rebellion is over, Absalom is dead, and David is headed home. He is going back with sorrow in his heart because the son he loved more than life itself is gone. He is going back to reclaim his rightful place on the throne of Israel. He is going home to help restore a nation torn apart by a brutal civil war. David is going home, but he is going home with a heart filled with sorrow.


Out of that sorrowful, broken heart comes this sweet, precious Psalm. Out of that broken heart of that shattered father pours a song of undiluted praise and worship. Notice the title, “To the chief musician, upon Neginah. A psalm of David.” The word “Neginah” refers to a “song played upon a stringed instrument.” This Psalm was written by David when his heart was broken. The title indicates that David wrote not only the words of this Psalm, but that he took his harp in his hand and let the music pour from his heart and his hands. 


In David’s sweet song we find come help for our own hearts when we are called on to walk through the hard places of life. I want to preach about Sorrow’s Sweet Song. I want you to know that while sorrows will be a part of this life, a sweet song can arise out of our pain to the glory of God. Notice the stanzas of Sorrow’s Sweet Song with me.


  I.  V. 1-2  SORROW’S REQUEST

A.  Lord Hear Me - This is the cry of a brokenhearted man. As I said, Absalom is dead. He was fleeing from David’s men when the mule on which he was riding passed under a low limb. Absalom’s hair became entangled in the tree and the mule rode off leaving him hanging there kicking in the air. Joab, David’s general found Absalom, and ignoring the clear command of David, Joab killed the young rebel, 2 Sam. 18. Now, Absalom is dead, and David’s heart is breaking.


Absalom and David had always had a stormy relationship. They had been estranged earlier, but David had forgiven Absalom’s transgressions and their relationship had been restored. That was what David hoped would happen this time. But now Absalom is dead! There will be no restoration. There is only the overwhelming sense of loss, of sorrow, and of defeat.


From that crushed soul David reaches up to God. He pleads with God to “hear” his “cry.” The word “cry” speaks of “a piercing cry, a ringing cry, a plaintive plea.” David reaches up to the only hope he has. He lifts his voice to the Lord and seeks an audience with the only One Who can help Him.


There are times when life overwhelms us as well. When those times come, we may sometimes think the Lord does not care about us, and that we must beg Him for His attention. I want you to know that the Lord has already promised to hear you when you call on Him, Jer. 33:3. The very God of Heaven inclines His ear to hear you! He listens for your voice because He is your Father and you are HIs child!


Child of God, pray with confidence! The Lord hears you when you cry unto Him! When your heart is overwhelmed by life, come to the Lord in confidence knowing that He knows you, Job 23:10. He cares about you, 1 Pet. 5:7. He invites you to come to Him, Matt. 11:28. He has promised to hear you and help you when you do, Matt. 7:7-11; Phil. 4:6-7.


B.  Lord Help Me - Sorrow petitions the Lord for His help. David says, “From the ends of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed...” From David’s perspective, he is as far away physically from God as he can get. When he fled from Absalom, he went to a place called Mahanaim where a wealthy, old man named Barzillai took care of David and his men, 2 Sam. 17. Mahanaim was on the eastern side of the Jordan River. It belong to the tribe of Gad, one of the two and a half tribes that remained on the other side of the river when Israel conquered and settled Canaan. David is not at “the ends of the earth,” but from a Jew’s perspective, he was as far away from the Tabernacle, the place of worship, as he could be and still be in Israel.


He feels lonely, separated and cut off from the Lord. He says that his “heart is overwhelmed.” The word “overwhelmed” means, “enveloped; faint, weak.” The idea here is that “sorrows have enveloped his heart and have sapped all his strength away.” So, he cries out to God for the help to make it through the problems he is facing.


  • Have you ever been there? 
  • Have you ever been in the place where you feel cut-off from God? 
  • Have you ever been in the place where you felt that you were very far away from Him? 
  • I know that sin can produce that feeling, but so can sorrow and suffering. 
  • There are times when the problems, difficulties and trials of life and envelope our heart and drain the energy right our of us. 


When those times comes, the right place to go is to the Lord. He is the only One Who can help us. He is the only One Who can deliver us from what threatens to destroy us! 


As the Psalmist said in another place: “1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah,” Psa. 46:1-3. 


And again: “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth,” Psa. 145:18.


Child of God, if you need help, call on the Lord, and He will help you!


C.  Lord Hide Me - David cries, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” There is a lot happening in this statement. The image of a rock suggests stability is a time of turmoil. From David’s perspective, the story seas were swirling around him and he was sure that he would be swept away in their power. So, he cries out to God to lift him from the threatening waves of sorrow and to whisk him away to a place of safety, where the storms cannot reach him. David is asking the Lord to place him upon a rock that he cannot reach by himself. If the Lord places him upon such a rock, he knows he will be safe. 


In other words, he needs the Lord to do something for him that he cannot do for himself. He needs the Lord to place him where no one but God can reach him.


Thank God there is a Rock! There is a place of safety. There is a place of refuge. There is a place where we can flee in the times of trouble, sorrow and suffering. There is a place where the storms cannot come, the winds cannot blow, and the waves cannot reach us. There is a safe haven! There is a Rock and His name is Jesus! The book of Proverbs says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe,” Pro. 18:10.


Ill. No matter how high the skyscrapers stand, they always appear small from an airplane. When the Lord lifts us above our situations and lets us stand on Him, the things which appeared so terribly large before, are suddenly transformed into little problems that are easily overcome.


Notice also that David says he longs for “the rock that is higher than I.” That phrase indicates David’s awareness that many of his troubles are his own fault. If he had never sinned with Bathsheba, the events with Absalom would never have occurred. David sinned. David brought the wrath of God into his house. David’s son is dead because David was weak!


Now, on the backside of his failure, when the full fallout of his actions have been realized, David acknowledges the truth that he cannot help himself, that he cannot make things right. He confesses his need of One Who is superior to himself.


That is the kind of refuge I need! I cannot solve my problems. I cannot lift my burdens. I cannot even help my myself because I lack the power, and most of the time, I don’t even know what I  really need! 

  • But, I serve a God Who does know what I need. 
  • He has the power to lift my burdens. 
  • He has the ability to meet my needs. 
  • I cannot handle any situation I face in life, but He can handle them all!


That is His promise! 

  • “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Eph. 3:20.


The sorrows of life are difficult to face, but when sorrow meets faith it looks away to a God Who is able to hear us, help us and hide us! 


  I.  Sorrow’s Request


 II.  V. 3  SORROW’S REALIZATION

The first stanza of Sorrow’s Sweet Song has to do with what sorrow requests from God. The second stanza has to do with what sorrow realizes. We are talking about sorrow, but the sorrow we are talking about today is sorrow that is influenced and informed by faith. This kind of sorrow is different from the sorrow the world feels. This kind of sorrow hurts, but it hurts with hope. This kind of sorrow knows that there å a sovereign God Who controls all the paths of life. As the sorrow that is influenced by faith deals with the heartache and heartbreak it faces, the sorrow that is influenced by faith stops to consider that its present needs rest on God’s past performance. What He has done for the saints in the past reminds us that He can do it now, regardless of the present circumstances.

A.  A Realization Of God’s Provisions - David says, “thou hast need a shelter for me.” a “shelter” is a place of “refuge, of safety, of protection from storms, from danger, and from error.” David looks back over his life and he remembers the times when sorrows and troubles stalked him. He remembers God giving him victory as a boy over a lion and a bear. He remembers God giving him the victory over a giant. He remembers God sheltering from the murderous rage of king Saul. He remembers how God delivered him from the wrath of his own son. David remembers that in every trial he ever faced, God provided him a place of safety and protection. Based on God’s past performance, David is certain that God will not fail him now!


B.  A Realization Of God’s Protections - God has also been “a strong tower from the enemy.” The word “tower” carries the idea of “a high citadel; a place above the fight and the fray.” It can also refer to “a raised bed.” David’s point is that through all the attacks, battles and sorrows of his life, God was with him and God provided him with a place of protection. God provided him with a place to which he could flee. God gave him a place that was beyond the reach of the enemies he faced in life. There is a sense in which God gave David a “raised bed,” a place of peace in the day of battles.


What I am trying to say is that sorrow that is influenced by faith looks back. It realizes that the way God has worked in the past is an indication of how He will work today. Faith informed sorrow knows that God never changes, Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8. God has always worked in powerful ways in the lives of His people. From how God saved us by His grace to the way He has supplied our needs day by day, teach us that He has the power, the ability, and the will to help us through the sorrows we will face every day we live. (Ill. The truth of Matt. 6:25-34 and Phil. 4:19.)


  I.  Sorrow’s Request

 II.  Sorrow’s Realization


III.  V. 4  SORROW’S RESOLVE

Because faith informed sorrow has poured out its request to God, and because it realizes that God is able to deal with the problems of life, faith informed sorrow resolves to live in light of what it knows to be true.

A.  Resolves To Live In Commitment - David tells God that he will “abide in thy tabernacle forever.” Now, David was not a priest. He was not allowed to live in the tent of meeting. David was not thinking about that physical tent in Jerusalem. He was thinking of God’s eternal abode in Heaven. The word “abide” means “to dwell as an overnight guest.” David is saying, “I can’t live in that tent down the road, but I can dwell with you.” In other words, this is a commitment by David to live close to the Lord. He resolves to worship the Lord, to seek the Lord, to love the Lord, and to love for the Lord, among other things. 


The picture here is of a man who is hurting. Yet, in the midst of his pain he knows that God is working on his behalf. He does not have all the information about what God is going to do, but he is determined to honor the Lord with his love, his worship and with his life. This is the same attitude we witness in the life of Job, Job 1:20-22.


This should be our resolve as well. There will be times when your heart is breaking, but if you belong to hIm, He is working in your life to accomplish His will. He is ever working for your good and His glory, Rom. 8:28. So, our duty is to trust Him regardless of the circumstances determine in our hearts that we will commit all we have and all we are to Him. We must resolve to praise Him in spite of how we feel, what we think our how things look! (Ill. Paul’s example - 2 Cor. 12:7-10)


B.  Resolves To Live In Confidence - Finally, David says, “I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” The word “covert” speaks of “a covering, a hiding place, a place of safety.” It is the picture of a chick hiding under the sheltering wing of its mother. When danger appears the mother hen stands and allows her chicks to run under her. She settles down on top of them and protects them from anything that would threaten them. If they are to be reached, the danger must go through the mother. (Ill. A hen killed in a fire. When her body was moved, her chicks ran out unharmed.)


David expresses his confidence in the Lord. He sets his hope in wings far greater than those of a mother hen. It may be that David is referring to the wings of the golden cherubim, which overshadowed the mercy seat in the tabernacle. David resolves to cast himself completely upon the grace of God, trusting the Lord to sustain him, help him and keep him. He resolves that regardless of what comes his way, he will run to God and he will trust the Lord to shelter him and protect him from the sorrows and pains of life.


That should be our resolve as well. We cannot protect ourselves. We cannot stave off even the smallest of troubles and trials. Like a chick facing a hawk, we are helpless before our sorrows. But, there is a God is Heaven Who loves us! We are “His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” He died for us and He rose again to give us life, and we rest in His grace in the mercy seat. As part of His relationship with us, he has committed Himself to our perpetual care. So, instead of seeking to face the trials of life in your own power, resolve to run to the Lord and look to Him to shelter you from all that comes your way!


Conc: David closes this Psalm by expressing his confidence that the Lord will bless him in the future. He can see a time when the sorrows of this day will roll away and when he will walk in the blessings of the Lord.


I just want to encourage you today. Regardless of what you are facing today, or what may come into your life in all of your tomorrows, learn to rest in the Lord and trust Him to do what is right! Inform your sorrow with faith in the Word of God and in the God of Heaven. If you can do that, you can sing Sorrow’s Sweet Song too.


The eagle has an extra eyelid. When he closes this lid, which filters out light, he can still see, but he is not blinded by the sun. When an eagle is attacked by a flock of other birds, the eagle will close that extra lid and fly directly toward the sun. His enemies cannot continue their pursuit when the eagle turns his face toward the sun.


What a lesson for the child of God! When the enemies of this life attack you, turn your face toward the Son and fly toward Him. Your enemies cannot follow you there!

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