A Song of Sorrow

By John Martin

There are times when life is just plain hard. There are moments when the words of Job seem far too real; “We’re all adrift in the same boat: too few days, too many troubles.” (Job 14:1 – The Message) I find myself in one of those seasons of life when I too feel that life is full of trouble.

Don’t misunderstand, I am a very blessed man and when I look around and see some of the troubles that others are facing, I know mine are trivial in comparison, but for me – they are very real and bothersome. It is like the old saying goes, the only difference between major surgery and minor surgery is major surgery is performed on us personally and minor surgery is what they do on everyone else! So regardless of the degree of pain or the seriousness of the issue you may be facing, we all face times of trouble when life is difficult. This past week while I was complaining to God about my troubles… err, I mean when I was praying and meditating on a solution, I was reminded of Psalm 61.

This Psalm was written by a man who was walking through one of the deepest valleys of his life, King David. While we do not know exactly when it was written, nearly all Bible scholars agree that it was written by David toward the end of his exile from Jerusalem when Absalom rebelled against him.

Absalom had done his best to take his father’s throne and his father’s life. As a result of Absalom’s actions, David had been exiled from his home and family. David had been hunted by soldiers loyal to his own son. Absalom had done everything in his power to destroy his father. The only reason David survived Absalom’s revolt was the grace of God.

When this Psalm was written, the rebellion is over, Absalom is dead, and David is headed home. He is going back with sorrow in his heart because the son he loved more than life itself is gone. He is going back to reclaim his rightful place on the throne of Israel. He is going home to help restore a nation torn apart by a brutal civil war. David is going home, but he is going home with a heart filled with sorrow.

Out of a sorrowful, broken heart comes this sweet, precious Psalm. Out of that broken heart of a shattered father pours a song of undiluted praise and worship. Notice the title, “To the chief musician, upon Neginah. A psalm of David.” The word “Neginah” refers to a “song played upon a stringed instrument.” This Psalm was written by David when his heart was broken. The title indicates that David wrote notonly the words of this Psalm, but that he took his harp in his hand and let the music pour from his heart and his hands.

I want to take a few moments and share with you a few thoughts from the heart of David that can help each of us as we walk through our own valleys and face our own set of troubles.


In verses one and two we see the request that arises from David’s heart as he cries out, “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!” King David, mourning the loss of his son, knowing his kingdom is in turmoil at the betrayal of Absalom and his soul feeling crushed beneath the weight of the responsibility of leadership calls out to God during his sorrow. David reaches up to the only hope he has. He lifts his voice to the Lord and seeks an audience with the only One Who can help Him.

There are times when life overwhelms us as well. When those times come, we may sometimes think the Lord does not care about us, and that we must beg Him for His attention. But we must remember that the Lord has already promised to hear us when we call on Him! Isaiah 65:24 says, I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! (Isaiah 65:24 NLT).

We can rest assured and pray with confidence knowing that the very God of Heaven will incline His ear to hear us! He listens for our voice because He is our Father and we are His children!


Even as David begins to make his requests to God, he realizes that God will provide for him and protect him. In verses three and four, David acknowledges that God is a“safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me”.

Like David we can look back over our life and remember the times when sorrows and troubles abounded. We can remember that in every trial we have ever faced, God has provided us a place of safety and protection. We can look back and see how God has brought us through and because of His continued faithfulness we can be certain that He will not fail us now!


Because David made his request known to God and realized that God was able to deal with all the troubles and trials of life, in closing his song of sorrow David is able to resolve to live in light of what he knows to be true. Listen to what he sings in verses five thru eight: For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So, will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows (Psalm 61:5-8, KJV).

This should be our resolve as well. There will be times when our heart is breaking, but if we belong to Christ, then we can know He is working for our good and His glory. Romans 8:28 reminds us of just that fact – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28, NLT). Therefore, our resolve should be to trust Him regardless of the circumstances and determine in our hearts that we will commit all we have and all we are to Him. We must resolve to praise Him in spite of how we feel, what we think, or how things look!

I don’t know what you are facing today, and I cannot promise you that you may not face worse days in the future. But I can offer you these words of encouragement; learn to rest in the Lord and trust Him to do what is right for you and your family!

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