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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 62

 

 

Verse 1

Heading.

‘For the Chief Musician; after the manner of Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.’

This Psalm is again a Psalm of David, dedicated for the purpose of Tabernacle worship to the Chief Musician. Jeduthun, also named Ethan (unless Ethan suddenly died and was replaced by Jeduthun - 1 Chronicles 15:17 ff; 1 Chronicles 16:41-42), along with Asaph and Heman, was a leader in Tabernacle worship in the time of David, directly under the order of the king (1 Chronicles 25:6), singing and playing on the brazen cymbals (1 Chronicles 16:41-42; 1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:3; 1 Chronicles 25:6). He continued to hold this position in the time of Solomon (2 Chronicles 5:12). His descendant officiated in the time of Josiah, and was the king’s seer (2 Chronicles 35:15). ‘After the manner of’ may indicate that he was responsible for the setting or musical composition.

The Psalm was written at a time when David was in fear of his life (Psalms 62:3-4), possibly during the Absalom rebellion (they were trying to thrust him down from his dignity - Psalms 62:4), or even when he was fleeing from Saul (he had held a dignified position under Saul). Either way he is looking to God to be his refuge, and his whole dependence is on God.

The Psalm divides into three sections:

1) The Psalmist declares his trust in God as his security, and challenges those who act deceitfully and seek his life (1-4).

2) He calls on himself and his people to trust wholly in God, Who is their sure defence and refuge (5-8).

3) He warns against trusting in man of any level, or in brute force, or in riches, and calls on his hearers to recognise that power and true love belong to God Who deals with men on the basis of what they reveal themselves to be. (9-12).

1). The Psalmist Declares His Trust In God As His Security, And Challenges Those Who Act Deceitfully And Seek His Life (1-4).

The Psalmist tells us that he waits quietly on God for God to deliver him, because God is his Rock, and his High Tower ensuring his complete safety. On this basis he challenges his adversaries, who are seeking to kill him because they only see him as leaning wall or a tottering fence. Little do they realise the truth about him. They think that they can drag him down from his high position, using lies, deceit and hypocrisy. They do not realise that his life is in the hands of God. Feigning to be his friends (blessing with their mouth) they are inwardly out to get him (cursing him inwardly).

This could equally apply to his situation when he was a commander under Saul, or when he was hiding from Absalom. The fact that they feign friendship may point to the former, for in the case of the flight from Absalom men were either for him or against him.

Psalms 62:1

‘My inner life waits in silence for God only,

From him comes my deliverance.’

Note the emphasis in the Psalm on ‘only’ (Psalms 62:1-2; Psalms 62:4-6). His whole dependence and concentration is on God alone. He knows that in the final analysis He alone is the One in Whom he can trust. Thus he is able to declare that he waits in silence on God alone, because God only is his Rock and deliverance. When we have God with us we need nothing else.

To wait in silence is to wait patiently and in confident trust. He is aware that he does not need to batter God with his prayers because he knows that God is with him and is watching over him. The same is true for all who are truly His. That is why Jesus taught us to pray ‘our Father’. Whatever the circumstances, it is to Him that we can look for deliverance. The thought here is of salvation from those who are against us. But we can only be sure of it if our hearts are set on God.


Verse 2

‘He only is my rock and my deliverance,

He is my high tower, I will not be greatly moved.’

And this is why he can wait in silence before God in such confidence. It is because God is his Rock and his High Tower. Compare here Psalms 62:6, and see also Psalms 18:2.

God is his Rock. In other words He is firm and immovable, offering total security and a sure foundation. He is also his Deliverance. He knows that He will act on his behalf in order to deliver him from his enemies. Furthermore He is his High Tower, strong and unscaleable, the One in Whom he can feel absolutely safe. Knowing that his God has such attributes he knows that he will not be greatly moved.

Note the possibility that he will be moved to some extent. He is after all human. He may trip up but he will not be utterly cast down. We can compare Psalms 37:24, ‘though he fall he will not be utterly cast down, for YHWH upholds him with His hand’. So he is sure that with God on his side, such adverse movement will be unimportant and temporary. In Psalms 62:6, however, his faith has advanced and he is confident that he will not be moved at all.


Verse 3

‘How long will you set upon a man,

That you may slay him, all of you,

Like a leaning wall,

Like a tottering fence?’

But while he sees God as his Rock and his strong tower, He is invisible to his adversaries who consequently see him as vulnerable and collapsing. They see him as like a leaning wall which could fall at any moment, and as a tottering fence which is totally insecure. They do not realise that God is with him. That is why they are going about to slay him. They do not realise how foolish their attitude is when they are dealing with one with whom God is pleased.

So David asks them how long they intend their behaviour and attitude to go on? For how long are they futilely going to set on him in order to slay him? He has no fear, for his confidence is in God.


Verse 4

They only consult to thrust him down from his dignity,

They delight in lies,

They bless with their mouth,

But they curse inwardly. [Selah.’

He describes the kind of people that they are. Their only aim is to drag him down from his exalted position, to strip him of his authority. And in order to do so they are prepared to use lies, and false accusations. And their hypocrisy is brought out in that publicly they bless him with their mouths, while privately they curse him in their hearts. Note how their perfidy and untrustworthiness contrasts with the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God as already described. He is firm and sure, they are totally untrustworthy.

‘Selah.’ Let the worshippers think of that.


Verses 5-8

2). He Calls On Himself And His People To Trust Wholly In God, Who Is Their Sure Defence And Refuge (5-8).

He now repeats and expands on what he has said in Psalms 62:1-2, calling on himself again to wait quietly before God alone, because his expectation is from Him. He knows that he can wait quietly because it is God Who is his Rock, his Deliverance, his High Tower, his Glory and his Refuge. But this time his aim is not only to encourage himself, but also his followers who are sharing his predicament (Psalms 62:8). Now he is unswerving in his certainty that he will not be moved.

Psalms 62:5-6

‘My inner life, wait you in silence for God only,

For my expectation is from him,

He only is my rock and my deliverance,

He is my high tower, I will not be moved.

He again calls on his inner life to wait in silence for God only. And this time it is his expectation that is set on God, as he eagerly awaits his deliverance. He has no doubt that when God is ready He will act.

He then outlines why he is so certain that God will act, building on what he has said in Psalms 62:2. It is because it is He Who is his Rock, the Rock on which he can stand firm as he awaits His Deliverance; and is his High Tower in which he has taken refuge so that nothing can touch him. And now he drops the word ‘greatly’. Nothing can move him because he is in God’s hands. For his Deliverance and his Glory are in God’s hands.

Psalms 62:7-8

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, you people,

Pour out your heart before him, God is a refuge for us. [Selah.’

He knows that both his deliverance and his reputation are in God’s hands. Note his confidence that God will not only deliver him but will also restore his reputation and honour (his Glory). In Psalms 62:4 they sought to thrust him down from his dignified position. Now he asserts his confidence that he will not only be delivered, but that that dignity will be restored. If this was written when he was being dispossessed as a Commander, he will, as we know, achieve kingship. If as a King, he will be restored to the throne with greater honour. And he knows that this will be so, because in God is the Rock of his strength, and his Refuge. In God he is both made strong and protected.

And all this was not only true for himself, but also for all true believers. He calls on ‘you people’ to trust in Him at all times, and to pour out their hearts before Him, because God is their Refuge too. He is a Refuge for all who trust in Him.

We now learn that the fact that David was able to wait silently on God (Psalms 62:1; Psalms 62:5) arose from the fact that he had poured out his heart before Him. He had put everything in God’s hands and he could therefore now quietly await his deliverance. We too can pour out our hearts before Him. As God’s children we can take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there.


Verses 9-12

3). He Warns Against Trusting In Man Of Any Level, Or In Brute Force, Or In Riches, And Calls On His Hearers To Recognise The Fact That Power And True Love Belong To God Who Deals With Men On The Basis Of What They Reveal Themselves To Be (9-12).

The Psalm is brought to its conclusion by a comparison between failing man and the unfailing God. Men are unreliable. They are full of emptiness and deceit. They are lightweight. Their ways are not to be trusted. Thus we are not to be like them. We must not set our hearts on oppression, dishonesty and greed. Rather we should look to the One Who is reliable, the One Who is always true, the One Who is full weight. For power belongs, not to men, but to God, and He is not only all-powerful, but also all-loving to those who respond to His covenant.

Psalms 62:9

Men of low degree are only vanity,

And men of high degree are a lie,

In the balances they will go up,

They are altogether vanity.’

David recognises men for what they on the whole are, vain and empty, deceitful and lightweight. There are few who can be wholly relied on. Whether in low positions, or in high positions, they are out for themselves. Men in low positions are empty, like puffs of wind, here today and gone tomorrow, totally unreliable. They are only out for themselves. Men in high positions are deceitful and unreliable. They are a lie. They are for you one moment, and the next they have turned against you, depending on which way the wind blows. They too are only out for themselves.

Indeed if you put such men on one side of a set of balances, they are so lightweight that their side will shoot upwards. They have no ‘weight’. They are lighter than a puff of wind. They are insubstantial. There is nothing weighty about them. They have no substance. They oppress, they steal, they set their hearts on riches. They are not to be trusted.

Psalms 62:10

Do not trust in oppression,

And do not become vain in robbery,

If riches increase,

Do not set your heart on them.’

Those who trust in God (the ones to whom the Psalm is addressed) are not to be like them. They are not to trust in oppression, heavy handedness and bullying. They are not to reveal their shallowness by engaging in theft and robbery. They are not to let wealth take possession of them. (They are rather to trust in God, walk honestly before Him, and hold on to wealth lightly. Their hearts are to be set on God).

Psalms 62:11-12

‘God has spoken once, twice have I heard this,

That power belongs to God.

Also unto you, O Lord, belongs covenant love,

For you render to every man according to his work.’

In contrast to such men is God. Whilst men may appear powerful it is with God that power really lies. Indeed God has twice repeated the fact that power belongs to Him. He is over all. In the end all will be decided according to His plan and will. For He is Lord.

But with God there is no danger of His power being misused. For God acts in covenant love towards those who look to Him. He enters into a covenant of love with all who will respond to him, and behaves accordingly. Towards those who respond to His covenant He is totally reliable. He deals with men openly and honestly. He renders to every man according to his work. As Paul puts it. ‘To those who by patient endurance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and incorruption, he gives eternal life, but to those who are factious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and indignation’ (Romans 2:7-8).

Man is not saved by his works, but his works reveal what kind of a man he is. He either stands up to examination because His trust is in God, or he is weighed in the balances and found wanting because his trust is elsewhere.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 62:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/psalms-62.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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