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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 63

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-11

Psalms 63:4 . I will lift up my hands in thy name. This was swearing fidelity to the Lord. The heathens did the same to their idols; they kissed their hand, or they stretched it out. Job 31:27. Psalms 44:20. David’s generals did the same, when they swore fidelity to Solomon. 1 Chronicles 29:24. An Indian writer, cited by our missionaries, speaks to the same effect; “An idol is not Brumha [God] therefore lift not up your hand to it.” Virgil refers to the same custom among the gentiles.

Oremus pacem, et dextras tendamus inermes. ├ćNEID, 11:414.

“Let us ask for peace, and extend our right hands unarmed.”

Psalms 63:9 . The lower parts of the earth; that is, to hell, for graves they had none. See on Job 26:5.

Psalms 63:11 . But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. How was that accomplished? When Saul came out against David with three thousand of his guards, David marked the place where he lay, and in the dead of night he and the swift-footed Abishai went over to the camp, and found Saul and all around him in profound repose. David restrained Abishai from slaying the Lord’s anointed, but brought away Saul’s spear, and the cruse of water. In the morning David enjoyed a full triumph of generalship over Abner. He cried from the adjacent hill, Oh Abner, Abner; answerest thou not, Abner? Thou art worthy to die, for thou hast not kept the head of my lord the king. Abner made no defence. But Saul found a tongue. Is this thy voice my son David? Thou art more righteous than I. If a man find his enemy will he let him go again? Oh, yesterday it was rebel David, traitor David; to-day, it is my son! The battle was now over. Saul had not only lost his spear, but the whole camp was disarmed. No man in future durst say that David was forming treasons against the life of Saul, or conspiracies against his country. These, christian, these are the weapons by which thou also shalt subdue all thy foes; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God.


We have here a psalm of piety, of piety in exile, and labouring under the greatest privations. This ancient piety is founded on confidence: “Oh God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee.” My opening eves shall be an offering to the Lord. In the morning thou shalt hear my voice.

Piety is supreme in its breathings after God. My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry land where no water is. The commandment is justly founded, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. All earthly good, yea the crown itself is not to be named in comparison of God. Oh how the royal exile desired once more to tread the hallowed courts, to see the altars smoke with victims, to see the faces of the devout men, to hear the law read, and the prophets preach. There is a glory in devotion far surpassing all human delights.

There is also a blessed reality in religion: because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee, in the sublime of discourse and song. How strange is this language to the ears of worldly men. What, better than life! Yea, and the language is not solitary. There is a joy which surpasses the joy of those whose corn and wine are increased, and which fills the soul with the most seraphic delight, a joy unspeakable and full of glory.

The enjoyments of religion leave the world very far behind. Who among the votaries of pleasure is satisfied with the delights of the senses, and the gratification of the passions? How soon is the epicure satiated at the feast, the ear with music, and pride mortified that my friend was noticed, and I overlooked. Who among the rich and the great is satisfied with wealth and honour? Will feeding a fire extinguish it? Divine enjoyment bears away the palm, it reposes the soul on the bosom of its God.

But mark well, all these consolations are connected with the diligent use of means. The mind of the royal exile was thus favoured, while he meditated on the statutes of the Lord in the night watches; while he followed hard after God, and praised him with joyful hymns. Oh my soul, follow thou him in this safe, this ancient road.

To crown all, piety in trouble sees deliverance by faith, before that deliverance can actually come. It sees its enemies fall, as David’s foes on mount Gilboa; it sees confusion cover persecutors, and all liars clothed with shame. Oh my soul, rally thou around the banners of thy Saviour and king, swear to the Lord, and glory in the wings of his defence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 63". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-63.html. 1835.
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