Pictures of God

Psalm 61

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 61

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "I will always be with you, even to the end of the earth". (Matthew 28:20)

Psalm 61

  (This is) for the music leader.
He must use *stringed instruments.
(It is) a psalm of David.

v1   Hear me when I ask for help, God.
  Listen to my *prayer.

v2   I will shout to you from the ends of the earth when my *heart is weak.
  Lead me to a rock that is *higher than I am.

v3   For you have always been a *shelter for me,
  a *tower against the enemy.

v4   I want to live in your house *for ever.
  I want to hide under the shadow of you *wings.   *SELAH

. . .

v5   For you, God, have heard my promises.
  You have given (me) the *inheritance (land)
  of the people that are afraid of your name.

. . .

v6   Give the king a long life,
  so that he lives for a very long time.

v7   Let him sit with God *for ever.
  Give him your kind love and *truth to make him safe.

. . .

v8   Then I will *praise your name *for ever.
  I will keep my promises every day.

The Story of Psalm 61

David is far from his home in Jerusalem. Maybe he is in Syria, as in Psalm 60. Or, maybe, he is in Edom after he had run away from his son Absalom, when Absalom tried to become king. Sometimes he was sad. This was because he did not think that he could do anything. This is what "my *heart is weak" means in verse 2. He did not feel brave enough to fight, he just wanted to die. But he knew that this was wrong, so he asked God for help. He thought of things around him that made him think about God. To David, God was *like a special rock where he could hide.

What Psalm 61 means

We have printed the psalm in 4 parts:

    verses 1 Ė 4: David writes that he will ask God for help when he feels depressed. Depressed means that he feels that he does not want to do anything, or even live any more, because he is so sad.

    verse 5: David knows that God has heard his *prayer.

    verses 6 Ė 7: David (or maybe someone else) prays for the king. The king may be David, or one of the kings after him.

    verse 8: David writes that he will always *praise God.

Some Bible students think that David wrote only verses 1 - 5. Someone else wrote verses 6 - 8 so that people could use the psalm after David died. Maybe David wrote verses 6 - 8 so that people could pray for the new king when David was dead!

You will find the words always and *for ever in this psalm. The word list says that they mean the same thing. With their usual meaning, this is true. But in this psalm we use "always" when David means while he is a man on earth. We use "*for ever" for when his body dies and his spirit lives with God in *heaven. *Heaven is the home of God. We do not know where it is.

The Bible tells us not to draw pictures of God. But the Bible itself draws us many word pictures of God. There are several in this psalm.

    God is a rock, verse 2. The rock is a safe place where David can go when his enemies are fighting him. God is not a rock, but he is *like a rock. When David is with God, it is *like being on a very high rock. His enemies cannot reach him.

    God is a *tower, verse 3. Old towns often had walls round them. This kept the enemies out of the town. The walls had tall parts or *towers. The soldiers could see their enemies from the *towers, but the enemies could not reach the soldiers! *Towers made the soldiers feel strong. God is not a real *tower, but he makes people strong.

    God has a house, verse 4. When David was alive, many people had a *tent. This was a house made of animal skins. They could move the *tent from one place to another place. When someone asked you to come into their *tent, it meant that they would keep you safe in it. David thought that God had a very big *tent and that he would be safe in it. Because David says "*for ever" he means that Godís *tent is either in *heaven or heaven itself. Really, the Hebrew Bible says, "I want to live in your *for ever house". It was the house, or *tent, that would be *for ever. David wanted to be in it Ö.. *for ever!

    God has *wings, verse 4. A bird has *wings, it flies with them. Also, it keeps its baby birds under them, to make them warm and safe.

God does not really have *wings, but he does for people what a mother bird does for its babies. God keeps people safe.

In verse 5 David says that God has answered his *prayer. Some Bible students translate "the inheritance" as "the answer". "The inheritance" means the land of Israel, the Promised Land. "The people that are afraid of your name" are the people that serve God. Here it means Davidís people. "Afraid of" is difficult to translate. It does not mean that they thought that God would hurt them, but that God was more powerful than they were. In English we say that they were "in *awe" of God. If Psalm 61 is about David fighting the Syrians, then the *inheritance is the land that David got in the fight. If it is about Absalom wanting to be king, then the *inheritance is the land of Israel that David got back when Absalom died. An *inheritance is something that someone gives you. God gave Davidís people the land that he had promised them. That is why we call it "The Promised Land".

Verses 6 and 7 make a *prayer that we can always pray for our leaders. It is important that our leaders have Godís "kind love and *truth". It will make them good leaders.

In verse 8 we do not know what David promised to do. Maybe he said, "If you give me help, God, I will always serve you".

Something to do

1.  Look for things where you live that help you to remember God. Look in Psalm 36 in this set for some ideas.

2.  If you have a Bible read in:

    2 Samuel 8 for the story of David in Syria

    2 Samuel chapters 15 to 19 for the story of Absalom.

3.  *Pray for the leaders of your country that God will give them his kind love and *truth.

Word list

awe ~ afraid of someone greater than you, but still loving them.

for ever (and ever) ~ always, with no end.

harp ~ an instrument (thing) that makes music.

heart ~ part of our body; the Jews thought that you used your *heart to think; so to know it "in your heart" or "by heart" means that you remember it.

heaven ~ the home of God.

higher ~ more than high.

inherit ~ when someone that dies gives you something.

inheritance ~ what someone that dies gives to you.

like ~ another word for "as".

praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.

praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.

praise God ~ say how great that God is.

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

shelter ~ a cover from wind, rain or danger.

stringed instruments ~ for making music, *like the guitar and *harp and violin.

tent ~ a small house made of animalsí skins.

tower ~ a tall, safe building made of stone and/or wood.

truth ~ words that are true.

wings ~ what a bird uses to fly with.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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