Prolong the King’s Life

From Psalm 61:
“You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!”

This passage jumped out at me in Psalm 61. It seems like a non sequitur; doesn’t really seem to fit. David was a king; was he talking about himself? Perhaps, but he has been talking about himself in the first person, “me, my”, etc, and now he suddenly switches to the third person.

The Psalm has been a cry for help, for defense and preservation by God. It is also an acknowledgement and thanksgiving from David that God has truly been there for him, has been a shelter and a “strong tower” for David against his enemies.

The New Geneva Study Bible makes the point that a strong and good king was certainly a source of stability and safety for a people. When the old king died and a new king began to rule, it would be a time of uncertainty and fear. So the idea that the king would rule forever would be very comforting.

But David died. He did not rule forever. He was followed by Solomon who was a good king in some respects but allowed idolatry to proliferate in Jerusalem. And Solomon’s son Rehoboam was a fool, whose oppression divided the nation.

God had given David a promise in 2 Samuel 7 that his son would sit on the throne of Israel forever. Solomon of course was not this son. It is Jesus who is the son of David, the king who sits on the throne forever. And now the passage makes sense in the context- David is not talking about himself; he is talking about the promised king, the seed of the woman, the Anointed one who would come and inaugurate an eternal kingdom of peace.

What should we take comfort in amid the difficulties of this life? We have a good and righteous king who rules in heaven, protecting us from all our enemies. We have a high priest mediating for us and reconciling us to God. We have a brilliant and effective teacher showing us the truth and teaching us the right way. All three of these offices are held by one perfect Man, Jesus Christ, and He will never die.

In a political era crying for change, crying for something new, so many look for some transcendent figure who will arise and solve all our problems for us. But change was precisely what David was worried about. He knew the turmoil and instability of this life could bring great danger and disaster. But with God’s promises, he knew he was on a rock, on a high tower, from which he could not be budged. With Jesus enthroned in the heavens, we likewise can be confident that all of our needs will be met and nothing that we fear can ever touch us, because nothing can ever touch him.

“So I will sing praise to your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.”

One thought on “Prolong the King’s Life

  1. Exactly, Matthew. The very immutability that we seek in the world is the very idolatry that tears us apart. I can only freeze time and change at the expense of someone else. The rich man went to hell because he refused to alter his economic condition and give aid to Lazarus. The man who hid his one talent refused to take the risk that was necessary to use the talent as his master commanded. The rich fool built his barns and filled them with the fruit of his labor, thinking that he was “set” for many years, not realizing that the greatest change–death–was only hours away.

    Change has been predestined for us, but this change is to be conformed to Christ–not an earthly model [1John 3:2,3]

    Everything on earth is subject to time and change, for only God is immutable. We must accept it, embrace it, and rejoice in it, and at the same time keeping our eyes on that which is eternal, fixed forever in the heavens.

    25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
    26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
    27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
    28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: [Hebrews 12]

    The immutability we seek can be found only in Christ who is both God and man, who is “set” eternally in heaven at the right hand of God. We must seek Him there. [Col. 3:1ff]

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