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Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Psalms 62

 

 

Verse 1
PSALM 62

GOD, THE ONLY REFUGE FROM TREACHERY AND FALSEHOOD

SUPERSCRIPTION: FOR THE CHIEF MUSICIAN; AFTER THE MANNER OF JEDUTHUN.

A PSALM OF DAVID.

Jeduthun. In 1 Chronicles 25:1-4, we learn that Jeduthun and five of his sons were among the honored singers of Israel, having charge of the music.

A Psalm of David. As Leupold said, "There is nothing in the psalm which makes it difficult to accept the authorship of David."[1] As a matter of fact, we would recognize David as the writer of this psalm, even if there was no superscription. The entire psalm reads like an anthology of David's favorite expressions, metaphors and other characteristic word and images found in his writings.

Note the following: "my rock," "my salvation," "my high tower" (Psalms 62:2); and again, "my rock," "my salvation," and "my high tower" (Psalms 62:6); "my strength," "my refuge" (Psalms 62:7); "trust in him (God) at all times" "God is a refuge for us" (Psalms 62:8); "men are vanity ... vanity" (Psalms 62:9); "oppression of enemies," "riches not to be trusted," (Psalms 62:10), and "To the Lord belongeth lovingkindness" (Psalms 62:12). Any of these words and expressions constitutes what almost amounts to a Davidic signature; and all of them together appearing in a single short psalm makes it practically impossible to deny the production as Davidic.

It seems quite impossible to pinpoint any particular occasion which might have prompted these lines.

"There is an element of lamentation in the psalm at the beginning, and a didactic purpose at the end; but the dominant note of trust and confidence is evident throughout the psalm."[2] It is one of the few psalms in which there is no prayer or petition.

The organization of the psalm is that of Leupold.

I. Resigned to God, Despite Cruel assailants (Psalms 62:1-4).

II. Resigned, and Others Invited to Resign to God (Psalms 62:5-8).

III. Futility of All Help, Other than God's (Psalms 62:9-12).

RESIGNATION IN THE FACE OF CRUEL ASSAILANTS

Psalms 62:1-4

"My soul waiteth in silence for God only;

From him cometh my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation:

He is my high tower; I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will ye set upon a man,

That ye may slay him, all of you,

Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

They only consult to thrust him down from his dignity;

They delight in lies;

They bless with their month, but they curse inwardly.

(Selah)"

The recurrence of the word "only" is of interest in this psalm (Psalms 62:1,2,4,5.6, and 9). This word also distinguishes Psalms 39, where it occurs four times, stressing the similarity of these psalms, which Delitzsch designated "twins."

Jones has this to say about the use of "only" here.

"Only with God does the soul find rest (Psalms 62:1), because God only is the rock (Psalms 62:2), from which the psalmist can designate as vain those whose only desire is to cast him down (Psalms 62:4); this is the foundation from which he turns to God only (Psalms 62:5), because God only is his reliable helper (Psalms 62:6), all men are only a vapor (Psalms 62:9)."[3]

Kidner stated that the word "only" stands at the head of no less than five verses. "This emphasizes, or underlines the word; and the persistent repetition of it gives the psalm a tone of special earnestness."[4]

"My soul waiteth for God only" (Psalms 62:1). Fully in keeping with what David has frequently written, he considered the help of man as worthless. Without God, all the human help on earth could avail nothing.

This first verse is almost impossible to translate, as witnessed by the disagreement of the versions. Leupold stated that the Hebrew is literally, "Only unto God silence my soul."[5]

Only in God does my soul rest. (The Douay Version)

For God alone my soul waits in silence. (RSV)

Truly my soul waiteth upon God. (KJV)

I wait patiently for God to save me. (The Good News Bible)

My soul finds rest in God alone. (NIV)

Only in God do I encounter peace. (translated from Dios Habla Hoy)

Shall not my soul be subjected to God? (LXX)SIZE>

We like the Douay Version of the Bible as perhaps the most meaningful, a meaning which is almost repeated in the NIV, and similarly expressed in the Spanish Version. This is actually the thought behind Augustine's famous words, "Our souls, O God, were made for thee; and never shall they rest until they rest in thee."

"I shall not be greatly moved" (Psalms 62:2). This does not say that the psalmist shall not be `moved,' but that he shall not be `greatly moved.' As Spurgeon put it, "He might be `moved,' but not `removed.'"[6]

"How long will you set upon a man" (Psalms 62:3)? "This means `to storm in upon a man with threatening gestures.' The same words in the Arabic imply `coming in with cries and raised fists.'"[7]

"That ye may slay him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence" (Psalms 62:3). We find ourselves in disagreement here with most of the scholars whose works we have consulted, the general view being that David here likens himself to "a leaning wall or tottering fence." However, the proximity of this metaphor to "all of you" simply does not indicate that application. We think the opponents of the psalmist are here compared to a leaning wall or tottering fence. In a psalm so expressive of trust and confidence in God, it is totally unreasonable to place this metaphor in David's mouth. We appreciate Ash's comment on this:

"The wall could refer to the enemies."[8] Jamieson also agreed that this application of the words to the psalmists enemies, "makes good sense."[9]

"Their only (purpose) was to thrust him down from his dignity" (Psalms 62:4). In language appropriate in the mouth of a king, the psalmist shifts to the third person in speaking of himself, the word `dignity,' indicating a position of high honor and authority.

Verse 5
THE PEOPLE WERE INVITED TO ADOPT AN ATTITUDE LIKE THAT OF THE PSALMIST

"My soul, wait thou in silence for God only;

For my expectation is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation:

He is my high tower; I shall not be moved.

With God is my salvation and my glory;

The rock of my strength and my refuge, is in God.

Trust in him at all times, ye people;

Pour out your heart before him:

God is a refuge for us."

Psalms 62:5-6 here are almost a verbatim repeat of Psalms 62:1-2, with three variations. (1) Whereas, in Psalms 62:1 the psalmist's soul is said to rest in God; here it is commanded to do so. (2) The strong assurance of Psalms 62:2 seems to be slightly downgraded to "expectation" in Psalms 62:5. (3) "I shall not be greatly moved" (Psalms 62:2) becomes "I shall not be moved" (Psalms 62:6), meaning, "I shall not be moved at all."

"Trust in him at all times, ye people" (Psalms 62:8). The significant thing here is that David usually addressed his subjects as "my people," but if this psalm was written in the time of Absalom's rebellion, a great part of Israel had fallen into apostasy and rebellion. This might account for the use of "ye people" here. The ones addressed, of course, were those faithful to God and to David. "Even at the worst times, God always had some faithful ones in Israel, `a remnant' (Isaiah 1:9); and men of this sort always clung to David through all of his perils and were sufficiently numerous to be `a people' (2 Samuel 18:1-6)."[10]

In a number of the psalms we have noticed David's inclination always to include the people of Israel in his praise, petitions and prayers. Here he desires that all of God's "chosen" may share in the trust and confidence which God has enabled him to achieve in this psalm.

Without doubt, this invitation for the true Israel to join in this confidence and trust in God must be understood as the climax and topic sentence of this second paragraph.

Verse 9
FUTILITY OF ALL HELP EXCEPT GOD'S

"Surely men of low degree are vanity; and men of high degree are a lie:

In the balances they will go up;

They are together lighter than vanity.

Trust not in oppression,

And become not vain in robbery:

If riches increase, set not your heart thereon.

God hath spoken once,

Twice have I heard this,

That power belongeth unto God.

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth lovingkindness;

For thou renderest to every man according to his work."

"Men of low degree ... high degree" (Psalms 62:9). "The two Hebrew words from which these two renditions come mean: "Adam," and "man."[11] Adam is construed as indicating men of "low degree" as contrasted with the others. The point is that, "All men" are mortal, sinful, weak, vulnerable and absolutely temporary - "Here today and gone tomorrow." These words are not intended to derogate all mankind, but merely to emphasize humanity as contrasted with the Creator. "It is not that we have nothing to fear from humanity, but that we have nothing to hope for from men."[12]

"Are vanity" (Psalms 62:9). The marginal reading here, "a breath," is an expression which strongly resembles the words of James, "What is you life? For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14). In all of the great needs, such as salvation, spiritual strength, protection from temptation, safety from enemies, etc., men are incapable of providing that help which can be found only "in Him who loved us and gave himself up to die upon our behalf."

"In the balances they will go up" (Psalms 62:9). The Jerusalem Bible renders these words: "Put them in the scales, and up they go, lighter than a puff of wind." The imagery here, of course, is based upon the ancient balances, the form of scales used for thousands of years.

These last verses are didactic, that is, having precepts to be taught, as indicated by Yates, above.

"Trust not in oppression ... robbery . .. riches, nor power" (Psalms 62:10-11). Delitzsch considered these admonitions to have been addressed to the people who might have been tempted to join Absalom in the rebellion against David. He stated the thought here as, "The new kingship (of Absalom) carries within itself the germ of ruin; and God, as Judge, will decide between the usurpers and the dethroned, in accordance with the relationship in which they stand to God."[13] This is stated in Psalms 62:12.

"Power and lovingkindness belong to God" (Psalms 62:11-12). These attributes will enable God to judge all men in righteousness and truth, giving to every man "according to his works." Dummelow pointed out that, "Power and Mercy are the two sides of the full-orbed character of God; and both qualities are displayed in his unerring judgments of men."[14]

"Lovingkindness" (Psalms 62:12). How frequently have we encountered this word in the Davidic psalms! It surely must have been one of David's favorite words regarding God.

"To every man according to his work" (Psalms 62:12). In the last analysis, it is the "works" of men upon which Almighty God will base the final decision regarding their destiny. No, we do not mean that any man either can or ever did "earn" salvation.

What needs to be emphasized is that the "cheap grace" that has become the badge of decadent Protestantism is a foolish and deceitful error. Whoever indulges continually in sin is a servant of the devil, not of the Lord; and the Christian who does nothing good is good for nothing, much less heaven.

Men seem to have forgotten that Christ, the Head of our holy religion, gave us a preview of the Judgment in Matthew 25; in which account, the saved and the lost were distinguished from each other by the simple record of "who did" and "who did not."

Furthermore, Paul did not contradict Jesus and give us a whole new system of salvation "by faith alone," or by "grace alone." Did he not write, "We must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10)?

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 62:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=062". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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