Question: "What does it mean when the psalmist asks God to "lead me to the rock that is higher than I" in Psalm 61:2?"
Answer: In Psalm 61:2, the psalmist David pleads with God, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” At several times throughout the psalm, the author cries out to God and seeks His help. He asks God to “hear” his cry and “listen” to his prayer (Psalm 62:1). Through these exclamations, the psalmist recognizes that he cannot trust in his own strength and pleads with God to be his “rock.”
The psalmist calls out to God from a place of dire need: “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint” (Psalm 61:2). The writer feels isolated and weary; he is fast losing hope. Then comes the petition: “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). As he makes the request, David remembers the past help he has received from the Lord: “For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:3). God’s goodness in the past gives David faith to pray in the present difficulty.
When David asks God to “lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” he’s asking God to be his place of refuge. The Bible frequently refers to rocky formations as places of safety and security where one could hide from an enemy. In 1 Samuel 13:6, some Israelite men hid in rocky caves to flee from the pursuing Philistines. In Psalm 18:2, David refers to God as “my rock, in whom I take refuge.” When God is referred to as a “rock,” the picture is not of a small rock that someone could hold in his hand. Rather, God is like a large boulder or even a rocky mountain that serves as a foundation and place of refuge.
When the psalmist asks God to “lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” he’s also asking God to lift him up to a place of shelter and protection. Some understand the phrase “the rock that is higher than I” as a reference to the city of Jerusalem, which sits atop a mountain ridge (see Jeremiah 21:13). However, David could simply be asking God to lead him to God Himself, who is the “highest ground” one could seek. Both in biblical times and today, higher ground is considered safe and secure because it provides a strategic vantage point and is easily defended. Think of how people seek out higher ground when flood waters begin to rise or how combatants in warfare seek to take the higher ground from their enemy.
When we ask God to “lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” we’re acknowledging that He is our refuge and security and that He will provide us protection and shelter in times of trouble.