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.
Living Above “I Level”
A few summers ago my wife Heidi and I climbed to the top of the highest mountain…in North Carolina! Mount Mitchell (elevation 6684 feet) is the highest peak East of the Mississippi River. And while it may not rival the Mount McKinleys of the world in terms of size and grandeur, we found it to be a beautiful place to experience God’s creation.
Part of that experience happened out on the trail, as God’s creation suddenly produced storm clouds out of nowhere. Soon, miles away from the safety and security of our car, we found ourselves in a rainstorm of Biblical proportions! The beautiful trail we had navigated to the top soon became the stream…and then the river…and finally the waterfall we had to navigate back down! We made it back to where we had parked our Subaru…and discovered we had left it with the sun roof open! So much for placing our hopes in the safety and security of our car!
Mountains are certainly beautiful places to experience God’s creation, but they can be dangerous places in a storm. Climbing expert Matt Samet offers this advice for adventurers who find themselves stuck on a mountain in a storm: 1) Don’t panic, 2) Consider your options, 3) Move quickly but safely, and 4) Pray! He adds that you may actually want to consider climbing higher in the storm. Higher ground provides more safety and certainty (and a lot less water) in the midst of a storm.
In Psalm 61, David finds himself in trouble (again). He is in a dangerous place, and his heart is growing faint (v. 2). He is in desperate need of the safety, security and certainty that only God can provide. But he doesn’t panic; he considers his options and cries out in prayer. He asks God to lead him to higher ground, “to the rock that is higher than I.” David knew that the mountain could be a dangerous place, during a storm or battle, but he also knew the advantage of finding higher ground…above the storms and floods, above the attacks of his enemies. And he knew he wasn’t going to get there by himself. He needed someone to lead him to the Rock. David isn’t out for some recreational hike. Like you and I, he is making his way along a dangerous and unknown path called life, and he’s smart enough to not try and do it on his own.
What do I do when I am suddenly surprised by a storm in my life? Where is the best place to find safety and security when I find myself in a spiritual battle? Maybe I need to look above “I level.” Maybe, like David I need to be led to a rock that is “higher than I!”
The Bible writers refer to God as a “Rock” on dozens of occasions. It’s a useful metaphor. Rocks are solid, immovable, and strong. They are a fortress in the battle (Psalm 18:2), they are a shelter in the storm (Isaiah 32:2). David is asking to be led to such a rock. But David is quick to offer that the rock he seeks is one that stands higher than himself. Trusting in his own strength won’t cut it anymore. And while the “lesser” rocks—friends, family, finances—are good to have in my life, they can’t replace the Rock of our salvation (Psalm 62:5-8). God is “the Rock that is higher that I.” He is higher than all of the storms and battles. He is our rest and our refuge, our safety and our security.
David isn’t just grasping for a way out of his jam; he is reaching for the Rock. He is exercising his feeble faith. But it’s the same tried and true faith of generation upon generation of men, women and children who have found their hope in God the Rock. David says, “You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name” (v. 5).
Do you want some good advice about what to do in the storms and battles of life? Listen to David. Listen to the generations who have trusted God their Rock in the worst seasons of life. Don’t panic…pray! And head for higher ground. Embrace the heritage of those who have embraced the Rock that is higher than anything or anyone else. Let God lead you to Himself. And always stay thirsty for Him!