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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 63

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 63:0


The Thirsting Soul Satisfied in God MT Intro A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah Joyful in the Fellowship of God Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies Longing For God Yearning For God
Psalms 63:1-5 Psalms 63:1-2 Psalms 63:1-4 Psalms 63:1-5 Psalms 63:1-2
Psalms 63:3-5 Psalms 63:3-5
Psalms 63:5-8
Psalms 63:6-8 Psalms 63:6-8 Psalms 63:6-8 Psalms 63:6-8
Psalms 63:9-11 Psalms 63:9-11 Psalms 63:9-11 Psalms 63:9-11 Psalms 63:9-11

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. Surprisingly this Psalm has no imperatives, jussives, or cohortatives.

B. This Psalm does not admonish others but describes a personal search for a deep, personal relationship with God (cf. Psalms 42:1-4).

C. Like so many Psalms there is an aspect of tension with enemies (cf. Psalms 63:9-11). Because of Psalms 63:11, this reflects the thoughts of the King, so they may be

1. foreigners

2. faithless Israelites

D. Psalms 63:11a does not automatically make this a royal Psalm; see note at Psalms 63:9-11 for options.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 63:1-5 1O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 4So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

Psalms 63:1-5 In this strophe the psalmist describes how he feels about God (Psalms 63:1, Elohim and El, see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY).

1. he seeks Him earnestly (lit. “look early” ) BDB 1007, KB 1465, Piel imperfect (cf. Psalms 78:34; Proverbs 7:15; Proverbs 8:17; Isaiah 26:9; Hosea 5:15); the same root is the noun form for “dawn” (cf. Psalms 57:8)

2. his soul (lit. nephesh, BDB 659) thirsts for God BDB 854, KB 1032, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 42:2; Psalms 84:2; Matthew 5:6

3. his flesh (BDB 142) yearns (lit. “faints”) for God BDB 484, KB 480, Qal perfect; only here in the OT; from Arabic root “to be pale of face”

4. he describes his thirsting and fainting as caused by being in a dry and weary land where there is no water (cf. Psalms 143:6); God is often described as the source of “living water” (cf. Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; John 4:10; John 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17)

This intense search for God in a dry land is caused because of the refreshing joy he knew earlier in the worship in the temple (Psalms 63:2).

1. beheld God in the sanctuary (lit. “in holiness,” cf. Psalms 60:6; Psalms 89:35; Psalms 102:19) BDB 302, KB 301, Qal perfect; this word can mean sanctuary but does not necessarily mean that; I do not think this line of the poem mandates a person in exile; AB (p. 97) even suggests “heavenly sanctuary” in Psalms 63:5 and “eternal life” in Psalms 63:4

2. see His power BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal infinitive construct, cf. Psalms 59:17; Psalms 62:11

3. see His glory BDB verb above assumed (a double object)

Exactly how the power and glory were manifested is not stated but since the word “glory” is used of the Shekinah glory (i.e., cloud) during the wilderness wanderings (cf. Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:10; Exodus 24:16, Exodus 24:17; Exodus 40:34, Exodus 40:35; Leviticus 9:6, Leviticus 9:23; Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19; Numbers 20:6), possibly something like 1 Kings 8:11 occurred again (the other option is a vision of God Himself, like Isaiah 6:0 or Ezekiel 1:0; Ezekiel 10:0).

Psalms 63:3-5 These verses describe how the psalmist praises God because of His lovingkindness (see SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED) is better than life.

1. his lips will praise God BDB 986 II, KB 1387, Piel imperfect

2. he will bless God as long as he lives BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect

3. he will lift up his hands BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect

4. his soul is satisfied BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal imperfect, cf. Psalms 36:8

5. his mouth offers praises with joyful lips BDB 237 II, KB 248, Piel imperfect

Psalms 63:4 “lift up hands” See note at Psalms 28:2.

“in Your name” See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH.

Verses 6-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 63:6-8 6When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, 7For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 8My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Psalms 63:6-8 This strophe continues the psalmist's reflection of God's goodness and care.

1. he remembers God as he sleeps BDB 269, KB 269, Qal perfect, cf. Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Psalms 119:15, Psalms 119:48, Psalms 119:97, Psalms 119:99;

2. he meditates on God at night BDB 211 I, KB 237, Qal imperfect, cf. Psalms 4:4

3. God has been his help (BDB 740 I) BDB 224, KB 243, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 27:9

4. he is protected (in the shadow of God's wings) and sings for joy BDB 943, KB 1247; Piel imperfect

5. he (lit. nephesh) clings to God BDB 179, KB 209, Qal perfect, cf. Genesis 2:24; Ruth 1:14; 2 Kings 18:6

6. God's right hand upholds him BDB 1069, KB 1751, Qal perfect, cf. Psalms 18:35; Psalms 41:12

Notice how #5 and #6 reflect both sides of the covenant relationship. It invokes choices and actions by both God and human.

Psalms 63:7 “in the shadow of Your wings” See note at Psalms 17:8 and Special Topic: Shadow as Metaphor for Protection and Care.

Psalms 63:8 “right hand” See note at Psalms 18:35 and SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

Verses 9-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 63:9-11 9But those who seek my life to destroy it, Will go into the depths of the earth. 10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes. 11But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Psalms 63:9-11 As happens often in the Psalms, a strophe is addressed to the psalmist's enemies. In this one “the king” is specifically mentioned. This could mean

1. the king is the psalmist

2. the psalmist is addressing problems the king faced and expresses how he knows the king would feel (cf. Psalms 63:11a)

3. it is a literary technique to link individual Psalms to corporate Psalms (cf. Psalms 63:11b)

These are statements about the enemies (i.e., those who seek his life to destroy it and, thereby Israel).

1. they will go into the depths of the earth (i.e., the Pit, Sheol, the grave, see SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?).

In the OT all humans go to Sheol, as all humans go to Hades in the NT to wait judgment day. It is possible that “the lowest part” represented the abode of the faithless follower and pagan.

2. they will be poured out to the power of the sword BDB 620, KB 669, Hiphil imperfect

3. they will be prey for foxes (i.e., no proper burial)

4. the mouth of those who speak lies will be stopped BDB 698, KB 55, Niphal imperfect

Because of this

1. the king will rejoice in God BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect

2. everyone who swears by Him (BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal participle) will glory BDB 237, KB 248, Hithpael imperfect, cf. Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 65:16

Right and truth and faith will prevail in the end because of the character and purposes of our God!


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How is this Psalm similar to Psalms 42:0?

2. Was the psalmist in exile? Why or why not?

3. To what does Psalms 63:2b refer?

4. Where do you think Psalms 63:3-5 occurs?

5. Who are the enemies of Psalms 63:9-10?

6. Is this a royal Psalm? Why or why not?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 63". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-63.html. 2021.
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