Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Psalms 62


Resignation to God When Foes Crowd in upon One

Concerning this Psalm, which is placed next to the preceding Psalm by reason of several points of mutual relationship (cf. Psalms 62:8 with Psalms 61:4, Psalms 61:8; Psalms 62:9 with Psalms 61:4; Ps 62:13 b with Psalms 61:9), as being a product of the time of the persecution by Absalom, and also concerning על־יוּתוּן, we have spoken already in the introduction to Psalms 39:1-13, which forms with it a twin pair. The particle אך occurs there four times, and in this Psalm even as many as six times. The strophic structure somewhat resembles that of Psalms 39:1-13, in that here we also have longer strophes which are interspersed by tristichs.

Verses 1-4

The poet, although apparently irrecoverably lost, does not nevertheless despair, but opposes one thing to the tumultuous crowding in upon him of his many foes, viz., quiet calm submission - not, however, a fatalistic resignation, but that which gives up everything to God, whose hand (vid., 2 Samuel 12:7-13) can be distinctly recognised and felt in what is now happening to him. אך (yea, only, nevertheless) is the language of faith, with which, in the face of all assault, established truths are confessed and confirmed; and with which, in the midst of all conflict, resolutions, that are made and are to be firmly kept, are deliberately and solemnly declared and affirmed. There is no necessity for regarding דּוּמיּה (not דּומיּה ), which is always a substantive (not only in Psalms 22:3; Psalms 39:3, but also in this instance and in Psalms 65:2), and which is related to דּוּמה, silence, Psalms 94:17; Psalms 115:17, just as עליליּה, Jeremiah 32:19, is related to עלילה, as an accus. absol .: in silent submission (Hupfeld). Like תּפּלּה in Psalms 109:4, it is a predicate: his soul is silent submission, i.e., altogether resigned to God without any purpose and action of its own. His salvation comes from God, yea, God Himself is his salvation, so that, while God is his God, he is even already in possession of salvation, and by virtue of it stands imperturbably firm. We see clearly from Psalms 37:24, what the poet means by רבּה . He will not greatly, very much, particularly totter, i.e., not so that it should come to his falling and remaining down. רבּה is an adverb like רבּת, Psalms 123:4, and הרבּה, Ecclesiastes 5:19.

There is some difficulty about the ἅπαξ λεγομ . תּהותתוּ .לןדו ( Psalms 62:4 ). Abulwalîd, whom Parchon, Kimchi, and most others follow, compares the Arabic hatta 'l - rajul , the man brags; but this Arab. ht (intensive form htht ) signifies only in a general way to speak fluently, smoothly and rapidly one word after another, which would give too poor an idea here. There is another Arab. htt (cogn. htk, proscindere ) which has a meaning that is even better suited to this passage, and one which is still retained in the spoken language of Syria at the present day: hattani is equivalent to “he compromised me” (= hataka es - sitra ‛annı̂ , he has pulled my veil down), dishonoured me before the world by speaking evil concerning me; whence in Damascus el - hettât is the appellation for a man who without any consideration insults a person before others, whether he be present or absent at the time. But this Arab. htt only occurs in Kal and with an accusative of the object. The words עד־אנה תהותתו על־אישׁ find their most satisfactory explanation in the Arab. hwwt in common use in Damascus at the present day, which is not used in Kal , but only in the intensive form. The Piel Arab. hwwt ‛lâ flân signifies to rush upon any one, viz., with a shout and raised fist in order to intimidate him.

(Note: Neshwân and the Kâmûs say: “ hawwata and hajjata bi - fulân - in signifies to call out to any one in order to put him in terror (Arab. ṣâḥ bh );” “but in Syria,” as Wetzstein goes on to say, “the verb does not occur as med. Jod, nor is hawwata there construed with Arab. b , but only with ‛lâ . A very ready phrase with the street boys in Damascus is Arab. l - 'yy š' thwwt ‛lı̂ , 'why dost thou threaten me?' “)

From this הוּת, of which even the construction with Arab. ‛lâ , together with the intensive form is characteristic, we here read the Pil . הותת, which is not badly rendered by the lxx ἐπιτίθεσθε, Vulgate irruitis .

In Psalms 62:4 it is a question whether the reading תּרצּחוּ of the school of Tiberias or the Babylonian תּרצּחוּ is to be preferred. Certainly the latter; for the former (to be rendered, “may you” or “ye shall be broken in pieces, slain”) produces a thought that is here introduced too early, and one that is inappropriate to the figures that follow. Standing as it still does under the regimen of עד־אנה, תרצחו is to be read as a Piel ; and, as the following figures show, is to be taken, after Psalms 42:11, in its primary signification contundere (root רץ ).

(Note: The reading of Ben-Asher תּרצּחוּ is followed by Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, and others, taking this form (which could not possibly be anything else) as Pual . The reading of Ben-Naphtali תּרצּחוּ is already assumed in B. Sanhedrin 119 a . Besides these the reading תּרצּחוּ without Dag .) is also found, which cannot be taken as a resolved Piel, since the Metheg is wanting, but is to be read terotzchu, and is to be taken (as also the reading מלשׁני, Psalms 101:5, and ויּחלקם, 1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 24:3) as Poal (vid., on Psalms 94:20; Psalms 109:10).)

The sadness of the poet is reflected in the compressed, obscure, and peculiar character of the expression. אישׁ and כּלּכם (a single one-ye all) stand in contrast. כּקיר וגו, sicut parietem = similem parieti (cf. Psalms 63:6), forms the object to תּרצּחוּ . The transmitted reading גּדר הדּחוּיה, although not incorrect in itself so far as the gender (Proverbs 24:31) and the article are concerned (Ges. §111, 2, a ), must apparently be altered to גּדרה דחוּיה (Olshausen and others) in accordance with the parallel member of the verse, since both גּדרה and גּדר are words that can be used of every kind of surrounding or enclosure. To them David seems like a bent, overhanging wall, like a wall of masonry that has received the thrust that must ultimately cause its fall; and yet they rush in upon him, and all together they pursue against the one man their work of destruction and ruin. Hence he asks, with an indignation that has a somewhat sarcastic tinge about it, how long this never-satiated self-satisfying of their lust of destruction is meant to last. Their determination ( יעץ as in Isaiah 14:24) is clear. It aims only or entirely ( אך, here tantummodo, prorsus ) at thrusting down from his high position, that is to say from the throne, viz., him, the man at whom they are always rushing ( להדּיח = להדּיחו ). No means are too base for them in the accomplishment of their object, not even the mask of the hypocrite. The clauses which assume a future form of expression are, logically at least, subordinate clauses (EW. §341, b). The Old Testament language allows itself a change of number like בּפיו instead of בּפיהם, even to the very extreme, in the hurry of emotional utterance. The singular is distributive in this instance: suo quisque ore , like לו in Isaiah 2:20, ממּנּו, Isaiah 5:23, cf. Isaiah 30:22, Zechariah 14:12. The pointing יקללוּ follows the rule of יהללו, Psalms 22:27, ירננו, Psalms 149:5, and the like (to which the only exceptions are הנני, חקקי, רננת ).

Verses 5-8

The beginning of the second group goes back and seizes upon the beginning of the first. אך is affirmative both in Psalms 62:6 and in Psalms 62:7. The poet again takes up the emotional affirmations of Psalms 62:2, Psalms 62:3, and, firm and defiant in faith, opposes them to his masked enemies. Here what he says to his soul is very similar to what he said of his soul in Psalms 62:2, inasmuch as he makes his own soul objective and exalts himself above her; and it is just in this that the secret of personality consists. He here admonishes her to that silence which in Psalms 62:2 he has already acknowledged as her own; because all spiritual existence as being living remains itself unchanged only by means of a perpetual “becoming” ( mittelst steten Werdens ), of continuous, self-conscious renovation. The “hope” in Psalms 62:6 is intended to be understood according to that which forms its substance, which here is nothing more nor less than salvation, Psalms 62:2 . That for which he who resigns himself to God hopes, comes from God; it cannot therfore fail him, for God the Almighty One and plenteous in mercy is surety for it. David renounces all help in himself, all personal avenging of his own honour - his salvation and his honour are על־אלהים (vid., on Psalms 7:11). The rock of his strength, i.e., his strong defence, his refuge, is בּאלהים ; it is where Elohim is, Elohim is it in person ( בּ as in Isaiah 26:4). By עם, Psalms 62:9, the king addresses those who have reamined faithful to him, whose feeble faith he has had to chide and sustain in other instances also in the Psalms belonging to this period. The address does not suit the whole people, who had become for the most part drawn into the apostasy. Moreover it would then have been עמּי (my people). עם frequently signifies the people belonging to the retinue of a prince (Judges 3:18), or in the service of any person of rank (1 Kings 19:21), or belonging to any union of society whatever (2 Kings 4:42.). David thus names those who cleave to him; and the fact that he cannot say “my people” just shows that the people as a body had become alienated from him. But those who have remained to him of the people are not therefore to despair; but they are to pour out before God, who will know how to protect both them and their king, whatever may lie heavily upon their heart.

Verses 9-12

Just as all men with everything earthly upon which they rely are perishable, so also the purely earthly form which the new kingship has assumed carries within itself the germ of ruin; and God will decide as Judge, between the dethroned and the usurpers, in accordance with the relationship in which they stand to Him. This is the internal connection of the third group with the two preceding ones. By means of the strophe vv. 10-13, our Psalm is brought into the closest reciprocal relationship with Psalms 39:1-13. Concerning בּני־אדם and בּני־אישׁ vid., on Psalms 49:3; Psalms 4:3. The accentuation divides Psalms 62:10 quite correctly. The Athnach does not mark בּמאזנים לעלות as an independent clause: they are upon the balance לעלות, for a going up; they must rise, so light are they (Hengstenberg). Certainly this expression of the periphrastic future is possible (vid., on Psalms 25:14; Psalms 1:1-6 :17), still we feel the want here of the subject, which cannot be dispensed within the clause as an independent one. Since, however, the combining of the words with what follows is forbidden by the fact that the infinitive with ל in the sense of the ablat. gerund . always comes after the principal clause, not before it (Ew. §280, d ), we interpret: upon the balances ad ascendendum = certo ascensuri , and in fact so that this is an attributive that is co-ordinate with כּזב . Is the clause following now meant to affirm that men, one and all, belong to nothingness or vanity ( מן partitivum ), or that they are less than nothing ( מן comparat .)? Umbreit, Stier, and others explain Isaiah 40:17 also in the latter way; but parallels like Isaiah 41:24 do not favour this rendering, and such as Isaiah 44:11 are opposed to it. So also here the meaning is not that men stand under the category of that which is worthless or vain, but that they belong to the domain of the worthless or vain.

The warning in Psalms 62:11 does not refer to the Absalomites, but, pointing to these as furnishing a salutary example, to those who, at the sight of the prosperous condition and joyous life on that side, might perhaps be seized with envy and covetousness. Beside בּטח בּ the meaning of הבל בּ is nevertheless not: to set in vain hope upon anything (for the idea of hoping does not exist in this verb in itself, Job 27:12; Jeremiah 2:5, nor in this construction of the verb), but: to be befooled, blinded by something vain (Hitzig). Just as they are not to suffer their heart to be befooled by their own unjust acquisition, so also are they not, when the property of others increases ( נוּב, root נב, to raise one's self, to mount up; cf. Arabic nabata , to sprout up, grow; nabara , to raise; intransitive, to increase, and many other verbal stems), to turn their heart towards it, as though it were something great and fortunate, that merited special attention and commanded respect. Two great truths are divinely attested to the poet. It is not to be rendered: once hath God spoken, now twice (Job 40:5; 2 Kings 6:10) have I heard this; but after Psalms 89:36 : One thing hath God spoken, two things (it is) that I have heard; or in accordance with the interpunction, which here, as in Psalms 12:8 (cf. on Psalms 9:16), is not to be called in question: these two things have I heard. Two divine utterances actually do follow. The two great truths are: (1) that God has the power over everything earthly, that consequently nothing takes place without Him, and that whatever is opposed to Him must sooner or later succumb; (2) that of this very God, the sovereign Lord ( אדני ), is mercy also, the energy of which is measured by His omnipotence, and which does not suffer him to succumb upon whom it is bestowed. With כּי the poet establishes these two revealed maxims which God has impressed upon his mind, from His righteous government as displayed in the history of men. He recompenses each one in accordance with his doing, κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ, as Paul confesses (Romans 2:6) no less than David, and even (vid., lxx) in the words of David. It shall be recompensed unto every man according to his conduct, which is the issue of his relationship to God. He who rises in opposition to the will and order of God, shall feel God's power ( עז ) as a power for punishment that dashes in pieces; and he who, anxious for salvation, resigns his own will to the will of God, receives from God's mercy or loving-kindness ( חסד ), as from an overflowing fulness, the promised reward of faithfulness: his resignation becomes experience, and his hoping attainment.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 62". 1854-1889.