The psalmist addresses his enemies and tells his audience to shun evil and trust in God.
The psalmist addresses his enemies: “How long will all of you attack a man, to crush him, as though he were a leaning wall, a tottering fence?” (v. 4)
III. Select Verses
2-3 (cf. 6-7): Truly my soul waits quietly for God; my deliverance comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and deliverance, my haven; I shall never be shaken.
10: Men are mere breath; mortals, illusion; placed on a scale all together, they weigh even less than a breath.
11: Do not trust in violence, or put false hopes in robbery; if force bears fruit pay it no mind.
12-13: One thing God has spoken; two things have I heard: that might belongs to God, and faithfulness is Yours, O Lord, to reward each man according to his deeds.
2-3. Declaration of trust
4-5. Complaint about enemies
6-8. Declaration of trust
9. Exhortation to trust in God
10-13. Wisdom lecture: shun evil, God rewards/punishes man
The literary theme of Psalm 61 is the word ach “surely” which begins six of the twelve verses. As Gerstenberger points out, the psalm is difficult to classify: “Strangely enough, there is no invocation to start out with, nor do we find clear-cut elements of complaint, thanksgiving, or hymn.” Indeed, the psalm appears to be a homily in which the reciter addresses his enemies and tells his audience to shun evil and trust in God. While some suggest that Psalm 61 is a prayer (see v. 13), it is probably one of the Psalter’s only homiletic speeches.
VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo taken from http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/sumners/sumners0904/sumners090400041/4760620-very-old-background-image-of-a-brick-wall-that-is-falling-apart.jpg