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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Psalms 62

 

 

Verses 1-12

INTRODUCTION

Superscription.—"To the Chief Musician." See introduction to Psalms 57. "To Jeduthun." See introduction to Psalms 39. "A Psalm of David." "There are no historical statements or decisive references to known events in the life of David," says Moll; "yet the relationships with Psalms 39. on the one side, and with Psalms 4. on the other, point to the time of his persecution by Absalom. This relation with Psalms 39. makes it desirable to translate the characteristic אַךְ which is repeated (Psa ; Psa 62:4-6; Psa 62:9) not by, yea, surely; but by, only.… In order to allow the designed repetition of the same word to be clearly manifest in the translation, it is better to retain the translation only as this is appropriate throughout. For the assertion, that only with God is the soul entirely quieted (Psa 62:1), because God only is the rock (Psa 62:2), upon which, when the singer is established, he can designate as vain (Psa 62:3) the attacks of those who only desire to cast him down from his high place (Psa 62:4);—this assertion is at once the foundation for the exhortation of his soul, to turn to God alone in confident submission (Psa 62:5), because God only is the reliable helper (Psa 62:6). This repetition forms not only the transition to the renewal of the appropriate personal confession (Psa 62:7), but likewise to the exhortation of the people to constant trust in God (Psa 62:8), because men are only breath one and all (Psa 62:9), the trust in temporal possessions, whether goods or powers, is vain (Psa 62:10); but God has spoken the word, which has been frequently heard, and is valid once for all, that the power is His (Psa 62:11). Therefore the petitioner, moved by the assurance of the government of God, which recompenses justly, turns to the grace of God which is equally essential with His power (Psa 62:12)." The psalm is divided into three strophes, each of four verses. Amyraldus calls attention to a peculiar characteristic of this psalm, viz., that it does not contain any expression of "fear or dejection, and there is also no prayer in it, although on other occasions, when in danger, he never omits to pray." Thus the psalm is the utterance of "the full assurance and perfection of faith."

Homiletically we shall view the psalm as setting forth, The Trial, Triumph, and Exhortation of faith.

THE TRIAL AND TRIUMPH OF FAITH

(Psa .)

I. The trial of the good man's faith. The trials of which the Poet speaks in this psalm arose from the assaults of his enemies. Notice—

1. Their design. They aimed at the overthrow of the Psalmist. "They only consult to cast him down from his excellency." Conant: "They only consult to thrust him from his elevation." The "excellency," or "elevation," points to the high station of David, and it is noteworthy that the word to "cast down," or "thrust from," is used in 2Sa , by David with reference to Absalom. The enemies were envious of David's dignity, and sought to defame his reputation and to thrust him from his throne. The enemies of the godly seek to drag them down from their spiritual elevation, to overthrow them, by engaging them in sinful practices or pursuits.

2. Their method. They endeavoured to carry out their atrocious design—

(1). By violence. "How long will ye imagine mischief against a man?" &c. We incline to the translation of Conant: "How long will ye rush upon a man, will break him down, all of you, as a wall inclined, as a fence that is thrust down?" Hengstenberg and Hupfield translate רָצַח, murder. But Ewald, Delitzsch, Moll, Perowne, et al., translate: to break down. The enemies of the Psalmist were violent They assaulted him by force. They rose in arms against him to effect his overthrow and to destroy him. There have been times in the history of the Christian Church when bonds and imprisonments, fire and sword, have been used against its members.

(2). By deliberation. "They consult." They employed subtlety as well as strength to effect their wicked designs. "Craft and power," says Starke, "are the weapons of the ungodly; if the one is not enough, they seize the other, and not unfrequently make their attacks with both at once."

(3). By falsehood. "They delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly." These words are literally true of Absalom. By means of fair speeches, when his heart was false and black, he "stole the hearts of the men of Israel." In falsehood they took delight. "A chief weapon which the world has always employed in its bitter contest with the Church, has been that of lies." The great leader of the forces of wickedness is the great liar. (Joh .) Force, subtlety, falsehood are all employed to promote the triumph of evil.

3. Their cowardice in all this. "How long will ye rush upon a man, will break him down, all of you?" Mark the contrast—"all" opposed to "a man." All against one!

Such was the trial of the Psalmist. Will his faith in God bear the strain, and enable him to rise superior to his troubles? Will he issue from the trial victor, or vanquished? retaining his hold on God, or drifting from Him?

The trial of his faith is an illustration of the trial of the faith of the godly now, both in its design and in its method.

II. The triumph of the good man's faith. The victory of the Psalmist is manifest,—

1. In his intense realisation of the all-sufficiency of God (Psa ; Psa 62:5-7). He trusted in God as the rock of his strength, his salvation, his defence, his refuge. Here are the ideas of abiding and unchanging strength, a "rock;" secure shelter and protection, a "refuge;" elevation above danger, a "defence," or "high-place;" and complete deliverance from trials and perils, "my salvation." Calvin: "The reason why he heaps together so many names of God is, that he may meet and throw back the assaults of Satan, by, as it were, so many shields." Again: "The epithets which David applies to God, in reference to His power to uphold, are like so many pillars, by which he supports his steadfastness." Moll: "God can screen believers against their enemies with as many shields as He has names."

2. In his reliance upon God alone. The only, which is the characteristic mark of the psalm, is used not less than four times of the Psalmist's trust in God (Psa ; Psa 62:5-6). Spurgeon: "We cannot too often hear the toll of that great bell only; let it ring the death-knell of all carnal reliances, and lead us to cast ourselves on the bare arm of God." In himself alone God is more than sufficient to meet all the needs of His people.

3. In his assurance of safety and stability. In Psa , he says, "I shall not be greatly moved." He might be shaken; but would not be overthrown. He might be troubled; but would not be distressed—he might be perplexed; but would not be left in despair, &c. And in Psa 62:6 he exclaims, "I shall not be moved." His confidence increased as he sang this psalm of faith. "The more faith is acted the more active it is. It grows by being exercised." How triumphant was the assurance of St. Paul as to the security of believers in Christ Jesus! (Rom 8:31-39.)

4. In his rest in God. "My soul waiteth only upon God." Margin: "My soul is silent," &c. Conant: "Only in God is my soul quieted." Hengstenberg: "Only to God is my soul silent." The silence "denotes the opposite of that state of tumultuous agitation which prevails in the soul as long as it looks anywhere else for help, when in great trouble, than to God." (Comp. Psa ; Psa 22:2.) Barnes:—"The feeling is that which exists when we have entrusted all to God; when, having entire confidence in His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His mercy, we commit the whole case to Him as if it were no longer our own. Such is the calmness—the peace—the quiet—the silence of the soul—when all is left with God." See on this point the beautiful hymn in "The Child's Christian Year."

"O Lord, now happy should we be

If we could cast our care on Thee," &c.

Here then we have faith triumphantly resting in God. Such triumph may be the portion of every godly soul. (Comp. 1Pe .)

THE EXHORTATION OF FAITH

(Psa .)

The Psalmist having expressed his own unfaltering confidence in God, proceeds in these verses to exhort all men to exercise a similar trust in God. In this exhortation let us consider—

I. The trust prohibited. (Psa .) The objects of trust which the Psalmist prohibits are—

1. Man. "Only vanity are men of low degree," &c. David regards both common men and men of distinction as alike unworthy of confidence:—

(1.) Because of their inability. "Only vanity are men of low degree." They are empty, unsubstantial creatures—a mere breath—utterly incapable of aiding any one in the great needs of life. In the ordinary and everyday trials of life men can be sympathetic and helpful to each other; but in its great and deep and solemn experiences how powerless are they to help each other!

(2). Because of their unfaithfulness. "Men of high degree are a lie." Men of exalted rank are not to be regarded as the objects of the soul's trust. As an object of confidence man may fail by reason of his want of constancy as well as by his want of power. Test men in this respect, and you will find them either feeble, or false, or both. "To be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity." Arndt: "If there were any one among men, immortal, not liable to sin, or to change, whom it were impossible for any one to overcome, but who was strong as an angel, such a one might be something, but inasmuch as every one is a man, a sinner, mortal, weak, liable to sickness and death, exposed to pain and terror, like Pharaoh, even from the most insignificant animals, and liable to so many miseries, that it is impossible to count them, the conclusion must be a valid one: ‘man is nothing.'" "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man," &c. (Jer )

2. Oppression. "Trust not in oppression." Let no man hope to render himself safe and strong by oppressing others. The victories of the conqueror may be reversed. The arm of the tyrant may be broken. And then the oppressed may arise and crush the oppressor. He who thinks to "strengthen himself in wickedness" will, sooner or later, find that in so doing he has made an utter mistake. (Comp. Psa .)

3. Unlawfully acquired wealth. "Become not vain in robbery." There are, we fear, thousands in this nominally Christian land who are trusting in wealth which has been unrighteously obtained. Men who have made their fortunes by robbing their employes of their fair wages, by adulterating their goods or otherwise defrauding in business, by "sharp practice" in trade and speculation, by deceptive advertisements, &c.;—let not these men pride themselves on their wealth. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing." "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you;" &c. (Jas .)

4. Lawfully acquired wealth. "If riches increase, set not your heart upon them." The word "increase," or "spring up," is used as the antithesis of "robbery," to denote wealth obtained by lawful means. Even such wealth is not to be trusted in. See an outline on The folly of Trusting in Riches (Psa ).

None of these things constitute a true ground of trust for man. Neither any one of them nor all of them combined can meet his deepest needs—the needs of his awful soul. He who trusts in them is doomed to disappointment, to misery, and to ruin.

II. The trust prescribed. (Psa ; Psa 62:11-12.)

1. Its nature. The Psalmist represents this trust as comprising

(1) Abiding confidence in God. "Trust in Him at all times." "We must have an actual confidence in God," says Matthew Henry, "upon all occasions, trust in Him upon every emergency, to guide us when we are in doubt, to protect us when we are in danger, to supply us when we are in want, to strengthen us for every good word and work." "At all times," even in the severest affliction, the extremest danger, &c.

(2) Unreserved communication with God. "Pour out your heart before Him." Tell Him all its griefs and fears, all its sins and sorrows, all its hopes and desires. We can thus pour out our heart unto God. We cannot unto man; not even to the most trusted amongst men.

"Not e'en the tenderest heart, and next our own,

Known half the reasons why we smile and sigh."

But unto God we can unfold our most "secret throbbings." He is wise, considerate, merciful, &c. We may thus pour out our heart unto Him. He will not repulse us; but will kindly and patiently listen to us. We should thus pour out our heart unto Him. It is our duty as well as our privilege to fully unburden the heart to God.

(3) This trust is represented as an exercise for all "people." Not simply the people of Israel are meant by "ye people," but all mankind. "All shall be welcome to trust in God, for He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth."

2. Its ground. "God is a refuge for us.… God hath spoken once," &c.

(1) God is the Almighty refuge of those who trust in Him. "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God." The power of God is a guarantee of His ability to protect and save those who trust in Him. This truth God had deeply impressed upon the mind and heart of the Psalmist. "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this," &c. As he had marked God's works in creation David had heard this testimony—"Power is God's." He found the same great truth in the written Word; and had witnessed confirmations of it in Providence. He "is able to do exceeding abundantly," &c.

(2) God is the gracious refuge of those who trust in Him. Mere strength is not sufficient to inspire confidence. It may awaken apprehension and alarm. But God is as kind as He is strong. "Also unto Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy." Perowne: "Power without love is brutality, and love without power is weakness. Power is the strong foundation of love, and love is the beauty and the crown of power."

(3) God is the righteous refuge of those who trust in Him. "Thou renderest to every man according to his works." He never does wrong to any of His creatures. He is the vindicator of the oppressed and injured. Here then we have a broad, immovable, and eternal ground for confidence in God.

CONCLUSION.—How unspeakably important is the object of the soul's trust! "We may make unsuccessful speculations in business, we may venture all we have on some ruinous enterprise, we may even put our lives in jeopardy and lose them; still all may not be lost:—the soul may be safe. But if we trust the soul to something that will fail us at the day of judgment, then the loss will be tremendous and irreparable." "Trust in HIM at all times, ye people." Psa ; Jer 18:7-8. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."

In what, or in whom, are we trusting?

GOD A REFUGE

(Psa .)

"God is a Refuge for us."

I. Illustrate the interesting fact here declared.

Consider—

1. The medium through which God is the refuge of His people. The godly among the Israelites believed in the promised Messiah, and to them God was a refuge. It is through the work of Christ and by faith in Him that God is our refuge. Sin had created a breach between God and us. That breach is healed by the work of the Messiah. Through His mediation we have access to God.

2. The perfections of His nature which qualify God to be the refuge of his people. The power of God is engaged on their behalf. To have an Almighty friend for our refuge is an inestimable privilege. Divine wisdom. All our dangers and difficulties, all our enemies and their designs, are known unto God; and He is able to guard us from every danger, to lead us through every difficulty, and to frustrate the designs of all our foes. Infinite goodness. God is ready to afford His aid. Nah . Faithfulness. On His promises and engagements we may safely rely. Accessibility. God is with us. He is a refuge ever near to us. Immutability. Creatures may be fickle and changeable, but God is unchangeable. Self-existence and independence. Our best earthly friends may die, &c.; but God is an ever-living friend. (Deu 33:27.)

3. This interesting truth it confirmed by historical facts. In all ages God has been the refuge of His people. The preservation of the Church is an illustration of this truth. It has been like a bush burning with fire, yet not consumed.

II. Consider the uses to which the subject may be applied.

1. As connected with the events of Providence. A wise and good and righteous God governs human affairs.

2. As a source of consolation and joy to the Church. The aspect of things may in many respects be such as to awaken our fears; but "God is a refuge for us."

3. As a comfort to individual believers. In losses, family trials, bereavements, &c., "God is a refuge for us."

LEARN—

1. The importance of trusting in God. In troubles, difficulties, temptations, afflictions, and in death, trust in Him as your refuge.

2. The importance of religion. If you neglect religion you will have no refuge. But if you believe the Gospel, God will be your refuge. He will guide you by His counsel, and afterward receive you to glory.—Abridged from an unpublished MS.

THE POWER OF GOD

(Psa .)

Though the truth of God's power is one of the most simple and elementary, though it is one taught by reason and nature as well as by revelation, it is one which is thoroughly learnt only after much Divine teaching and often many painful experiences.

I. Produce some proofs that men to not generally believe in the power of God.

1. In the fact of sin. By his every sin the sinner proclaims his disbelief of God's power. He regards all His declarations of it as so many vainglorious boastings. He cannot fulfil His threatenings, &c. Vain imaginations these.

2. In open and avowed infidelity. Miracles are impossible; and as the Gospel is full of miracles it must be rejected. Though God may have power, He has not omnipotent power.

3. In the trust which is reposed in means altogether apart from God. Is it not still true that oppression and robbery and increased riches are regarded as means which will be all-sufficient for the attainment of desired ends? When success comes we worship the instrument; and when distress visits us the last place which we think of, when we are seeking help and deliverance, is Jehovah's footstool.

4. Distrust is another proof of disbelief in God's power. All distrust implies not only a doubt of His faithfulness, or a questioning of His omniscience, but also a want of faith in His power. Behold the Israelites, &c., (Num ; Psa 78:19; Num 14:1-4).

5. In the fear of man (Isa ). Faith in God's power would overshadow the fear of man.

6. One more proof is furnished by despair. If despair relates to temporal things, the conclusion to which it has come is, that things have gone too far; &c. Or, if it relates to heavenly hopes, it reasons on similar grounds. These sins are too great for God to pardon; this torrent of corruption is too strong for God to stem.… He may be mighty to save, but not omnipotent to save.

II. Offer some helps to faith in God's power.

1. That by which David encourages his faith in Psalms 121. "My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth." Is not He who made heaven and earth sufficient unto you?

2. In the resurrection of Christ. His tombstone was pressed down by the law, sin, death, and hell. Of all the tasks which His power ever had to overtake, this was assuredly the greatest; and if He failed not here, where elsewhere is it possible for Him to fail? Now we may proclaim Him omnipotent to save.

3. The abiding of His grace in the heart of man is a proof of the mighty power of God.

4. And the continued existence of the Church of Christ is one continued miracle, one living, present, impressive proof of the mighty power of God.

CONCLUSION.—Believe in God's power—

(1) for the pardon of your sins.

(2) For grace to help in time of need. His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.—A. F. Douglas (Abridged from The Christian World.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 62:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-62.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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