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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 63

 

 

Verse 1

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; Psalms 63:1-11.-Two divisions; each begins with his soul-thirst for God in his exile from holy ordinances (Psalms 63:1-3; Psalms 63:6-8); in each follows his hope for the future; in Psalms 63:4-5, hope of HIS OWN blessedness; in Psalms 63:9-10, hope of the destruction of his foes; concluding summary (Psalms 63:11) answering to title.

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah - not referring, as the marginal references (1 Samuel 22:1-23; 1 Samuel 23:1-29) imply, to David's flight from Saul; for the mention in Psalms 63:11 that David was "king" forbids this; but to his flight from Absalom to "the wilderness of Judah" (2 Samuel 15:23; 2 Samuel 15:28; 2 Samuel 16:2; 2 Samuel 17:16), "the plains of the wilderness." This wilderness (cf. Matthew 3:1) lay east of Judah and south of Benjamin, and stretched from near Jericho on the north, to the southwest end of the Dead Sea and the mountains of Edom on the south. Compare Hebrew, Psalms 63:1, "thirsty" (hayeephim), with 2 Samuel 16:2; 2 Samuel 16:14; 2 Samuel 17:2. In Psalms 42:1-11 he was beyond Jordan; in this psalm he is in the wilderness on the near side of Jordan.

O God, thou art my God. Faith enabled David to appropriate God as his, even in the greatest affliction (Psalms 3:7).

My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee - who alone canst satisfy the thirst of an immortal "soul." The vehemence of the soul's desire affects the "flesh;" the body is affected by strong emotion (Psalms 84:2).

In a dry and thirsty land - literally, 'a weary land,' the epithets that apply to himself, 'dry and weary,' being transferred to the "land" (2 Samuel 16:14).


Verse 2

To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

To see thy power and thy glory, so (as) I have seen thee in the sanctuary - literally, 'so in the sanctuary I have beheld thee, that I may see thy power and thy glory.' Thus "to see," or 'that I may see thy power,' follows "my soul thirsteth for thee," etc.; 'so in the sanctuary I have beheld thee,' is a parenthesis. What I 'thirst for' is, "to see thy power and thy glory," as once I saw it. The abruptness of the interrupted clauses accords with his excitement. The "so" is beautifully forcible; so lovable and so fully satisfying to thy people did I formerly behold thee, my soul therefore now thirsts for thee (cf. Psalms 27:4; Psalms 27:13). David's desire in this psalm, and in the parallel psalm, Psalms 42:1-11, be restored to the visible sanctuary (cf. Psalms 43:3 with 2 Samuel 15:25).


Verse 3

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Because thy loving-kindness (is) better than life. This gives the reason why he so eagerly thirsts after God, and after the ordinances of the sanctuary-namely, because in the land of the people of the covenant, God's "loving-kindness" is fully revealed; and that loving-kindness is better than lives (so the Hebrew) - i:e., better than life and all life's earthly blessings. What I desire is not so much my restoration to the good things of life, of which I have been deprived, as restoration to spiritual ordinances.

My lips shall praise thee - after that thou hast in thy loving-kindness restored me to external communion with thee and the Church in thy sanctuary. "Praise" - literally, 'to still' or 'soothe by praise.'


Verse 4

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Thus will I bless thee while I live - literally, in my lives - i:e., on my restoration to the good things of life, as well as to what I prize far more-thy loving-kindness revealed in thy sanctuary-I will bless thee with all that I have and all that I am. The 'lives' here refer to the 'lives' in Psalms 63:3.

I will lift up my hands in thy name (Psalms 28:2) - namely, praising thee for thy character of power and love revealed in my behalf. God's name is God's revelation of Himself (Psalms 20:1; Psalms 20:5).


Verse 5

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness - I shall enjoy a spiritual feast of good things, when I shall have been restored (cf. Psalms 23:5; Isaiah 25:6).


Verses 6-10

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

-Second strophe. His hearty desire after God even now in his banishment, whence follows the confident hope of the destruction of his enemies who banished him.

Verse 6. When I remember thee upon my bed, (and) meditate on thee in the night watches. Thus, the English version connects this verse with Psalms 63:5. But the division of the strophes renders the following translation preferable, which, moreover, obviates the need of supplying "and:" 'Whenever I remember thee upon my bed, I meditate on thee in the night watches.' The remembrance of thee on my bed so engrosses me that I cannot draw my mind off the thought, so as to fall into the obliviousness of sleep; I often meditate on thee through the whole night watches. So Psalms 119:55; Psalms 119:148; Psalms 1:2. The Hebrew is beds, probably alluding to the fact that in his unsettled life in exile, he seldom slept for many nights in the same bed, but through fear of adversaries slept in different places. There were three night watches: the first (Lamentations 2:19); the middle (Judges 7:19); the third or morning watch (Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 2:11). In the New Testament the Roman usage of four prevails.

Verse 7. Because thou hast been my help. This gives the reason why he cannot divest himself of continual meditation on God.

Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice - a favourite phrase of David's (Psalms 61:4; Psalms 17:8; Psalms 91:4).

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. Hosea 6:3 tells us the blessed effect of this - "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." Or translate as Hengstenberg, 'my soul cleaves to thee' (as Jacob did to the angel with whom he wrestled for the blessing); and then follows, in the beautiful relation between the soul and its God,

Thy right hand upholdeth me - as it upheld Peter from sinking into the waters (Matthew 14:30-31; cf. Psalms 18:35; Psalms 60:5).

Verse 9. But those (that) seek my soul to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. Hengstenberg, for the parallelism, translates, 'But they (shall be) for destruction (who) seek my soul; they shall go into the lower parts of the earth'-as Korah and his rebel company did of old (Psalms 55:15; Numbers 16:31-35) - literally, (shall be) 'for sudden destruction.' 'To seek the soul' needs no such addition as in the English version (2 Samuel 16:11). Moreover, the analogy of Psalms 63:10 favours the distinct declaration of the enemies' destruction, in each of the two halves of the verse.

Verse 10. They shall fall by the sword - literally, 'They shall pour out (the adversary like water) upon the hands of the sword.' The phrase is impersonal: "they" is the French on, 'The adversary shall be poured, out' -

i.e., given over 'to the power of the sword.'

They shall be a portion for foxes - or 'jackals,' which prey upon unburied carcasses. Compare for the fulfillment of David's expectation as to the rebels, 2 Samuel 18:7-8; 2 Samuel 18:14; 2 Samuel 18:17.


Verse 11

But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

But the king shall rejoice in God. It is that he is God's anointed king which forms the ground of his hope. Therefore he says "the king" instead of I.

Every one that sweareth by him - i:e., by the king, as the token of loyalty (Genesis 42:15-16). Shall glory - shall triumph in the success vouchsafed by God to the king's cause.

But the mouth of them that speak lies - the rebels (Psalms 62:4).

Shall be stopped - silenced in death (Psalms 63:9-10).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 63:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-63.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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