1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:1–2, NKJV).
Prayer is a constant, comforting, and calming spiritual blessing we have in Christ (Phil. 4:6). The Son of David, the Son of God, taught “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). David knew the blessings of prayer. In this beautiful psalm, he praises God as his great protector in times of trial, pain, and uncertainty (Ps. 61:8). Consider David’s trust in the Lord in moments of distress. (1) David had faith God would hear and respond to His prayers (v. 1). Take heart, beloved, God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12). (2) Difficult circumstances of the moment did not prevent David’s prayerful trust in God (v. 2). Regardless of where we are and what we face, prayer reaches the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). God fills heaven and earth and is not far from any of us (Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:27). (3) When we are weak, prayer brings us under the shelter of God’s strength (v. 3). Safe from the fierce storms of doubt and despair, God’s people “trust in the shelter of Your wings” (Ps. 61:4). Put your faith in God; He is faithful (1 Cor. 10:13). As Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Along with David, let us plead with the Lord to lead us to the rock of sheltering protection. God, Himself will be “our refuge and strength…A very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Indeed, “You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy” (Ps. 61:3).
But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say (Luke 6:46, NKJV)?
Why do you say yet not obey? That is the penetrating question Jesus asked those who followed Him from place to place during His ministry. Disciples (followers) learn and live the training received from their Master (Luke 6:40; John 8:31). Jesus is not our ‘Lord’ unless we obey Him. Like them, the Master challenges us to investigate our motives for saying He is Lord while disobeying His word. The Scriptures help us examine ourselves to discover and remove obstacles preventing salvation and hindering discipleship. (1) A hard heart (John 12:37-40). An open, receptive, and responsive heart accepts the word of God and is fruitful by doing the Lord’s will (Luke 8:15; Acts 17:11-12). (2) Fear and favor of men (John 12:42-43). Fearing rejection from others, many still prefer men’s favor over God’s approval. (3) Love of the world (1 John 2:15). Genuine love for Jesus obeys His commands (John 14:15). When we misplace our love and disobey Jesus, we deceive ourselves to think we love Jesus. (4) Deceived by false teaching (Luke 8:15). A popular doctrine convinces many souls that Christians cannot fall from grace (be lost). Yet, the gospel warns disciples against falling away (Gal. 5:4; Heb. 3:12-13). This false doctrine opens the door to complacent, neglectful faith (Heb. 6:11-12; 10:39). Jesus said it is foolish to hear His words and do nothing (Luke 6:49; Matt. 7:26-27). But it is wise to hear and do His words (Luke 6:47-48; Matt. 7:24-25). Yes, we must do more than say, “Lord, Lord,” to be a disciple and enter the kingdom of heaven. We must hear and do the words of Christ (Matt. 7:21-23).
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall”” (Matthew 7:24–27, NKJV).
Wisdom is achieved by hearing and doing the words of Jesus (v. 24). Why? Because He words of the truth of God (John 8:31-32). Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, building your life on hearing and obeying the truth of Jesus Christ is a solid foundation that weathers life’s storm (1 Pet. 1:6-9). “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Ps. 107:43). Conversely, foolishness follows those who hear His words but do not do them. Life’s uncertainties, sins, and sorrow batter and destroy souls that do not have the solid foundation of hearing and obeying Jesus. God pleads with humanity not to ignore Him. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1). And yet, in unbelief, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22). The choice to be wise or foolish comes down to whether we will hear and obey Jesus. From this day forward, may we all “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it” (Prov. 8:33).
Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6, NKJV).
Enemies attacked Ziklag, the Philistine city where David and his cohorts found refuge from king Saul’s attempts to kill him (1 Sam. 27:1-7). The invading Amalekites plundered and burned the city, taking captive the women and children, including David’s wives (1 Sam. 30:1-5). Sorrow consumed the people “until they had no more power to weep” (1 Sam. 30:4). Grief turned to retribution, and their leader David was in their crosshairs. Theirs was not an uncommon response, though unfair and unjust. David was innocent in the matter. He too was grieved, but not to despair. David knew he needed God’s help in this moment of crisis. The Lord was not a stranger to him; the Lord was his shepherd (Ps. 23:1). Sadly, many only turn to God in a crisis. But David could say, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence” (2 Sam. 22:2-3; Ps. 18:1-3). The Lord was his God, not the false idols of the Philistines. By the Lord’s strength, they recovered all (1 Sam. 30:8, 18-19). Turn to the Lord every day for your strength. Then, when a crisis comes, there will be no doubt the Lord is your God who will deliver you from the calamity (2 Tim. 4:16-18).
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6–8, NKJV)
Jesus is compared to two very different stones in this passage. First, He is the chief cornerstone from whom the temple of God, the church, has been measured and built (1 Peter 2:4-6; Matthew 16:18). Chosen by God for His preciousness, believers who trust Him will not be put to shame, for they are “living stones” in God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). Second, Jesus is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to those who reject Him as the chief cornerstone. Refusing to put their faith in Him, they disobey His word. The disobedient are set (appointed) to stumble over Christ in their unbelief. Christ has been set as the chief cornerstone of God’s house. By believing and obeying His word, He will not be a rock of offense over which you fall, but the precious, living stone who gives life to you (1 Peter 2:4-5).
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.
1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah (Psalm 61:1–4, NKJV)
David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, raised his voice in a cry of lamentation to God. This causes us to reflect on the abiding truth that God attends to the prayers of His people. When your heart is overwhelmed, weakened and strained by the burdens of life – illness, grief over the death of loved ones, uncertainties and doubts – it is God who hears and gives you shelter from all these storms. Like David, trust God to lead you to safety and salvation. He is your defense against every enemy, a comforting presence when life overwhelms. Trust in the protection of His wings and His dwelling place. Say with David that God is “my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psa. 62:2). Truly, God is “the rock that is higher” than any of us. He hears and heeds prayers that trust in Him. Pause today to meditate on God’s comforting presence and His promise to be “a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16–18, NKJV)
The church belongs to Christ, not to me, or you, or any other person. Jesus built the church, purchasing it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). The Father revelation (confessed by Peter) that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” forms the foundation upon which His church is built. Yet, 1.2 billion Roman Catholics believe this heavenly assembly of the saved (the “called out” ones, the church) is built upon the fleshly foundation of Peter. They have misunderstood the “rock” upon the church is built (v. 18). The name Peter (petros) is defined as “a (piece of) rock” (Strong) or a “stone” (Liddell-Scott), while the word “rock” (petra) upon which the church is built is used “of ledges…a mass of rock” (Liddell-Scott). Jesus did not build His church upon the man, Peter (a stone). He built His church upon the bedrock truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. “For no other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
46 But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. (Luke 6:46–48, NKJV)
Would you live in a house that did not have a solid foundation? Of course not! It would be dangerous and unfit for inhabitants. No building inspector would approve such a structure, and for good reason. Wisdom demands laying a strong foundation so the entire building is safe and secure. When you hear and do the words of Jesus you are like the person who digs deep and lays a solid foundation on the rock. Your life is secure, solid and safe. But listen carefully. Do not say “Lord, Lord” to Jesus and then not do what He says. That is not the deep and solid foundation upon which to build your life. Only by hearing and doing the word of Christ will your soul be saved.
24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24–27, ESV)
It matters what we do with the words of Christ and the words of His apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 14:37). Wise men and women listen to the words of Christ and actually do them. Like the well-grounded house, they withstand the withering storms of life. Their faith is secure, animated by obedience, not dead and barren (Jas. 2:17, 20). On the other hand, to hear Christ’s words and fail to do them is truly foolish. The world cannot offer anything that will withstand the tempest of temptation, sin and eternal death. Jesus does. Jesus saves. But, you must listen to Him and obey Him for Him to save you (see Matt. 7:21). Listen to the Scriptures and obey Jesus. Be wise.