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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Psalms 62

 

 

Verses 1-12

EXPOSITION

THIS psalm, like so many, is the cry of an afflicted one—a man of high position, whom his enemies seek to destroy, or, if that be not possible, to thrust down from his dignity (Psalms 62:3, Psalms 62:4). He himself is full of trust in God, and calmly confident that his enemies cannot succeed (Psalms 62:1, Psalms 62:2, Psalms 62:5-7). The confidence which he feels he tries to impart to his people (Psalms 62:8). In conclusion, he warns his enemies that they are likely to provoke God's powerful anger (Psalms 62:9-11), and encourages his friends by the thought of God's mercy, and of his goodness in rewarding those who faithfully serve him.

It is evident that the psalm contains nothing but what is suitable to the character of David, to whom the "title" assigns it; and further, that it accords well with his circumstance, when the revolt of Absalom was imminent. In further proof of the Davidical authorship may be urged "the earnestness of thought, the depth and force of religious feeling," and "the vigour and sublimity of the language" (Canon Cook).

The psalm divides into three stanzas, each of four verses, the break between the first and second and between the third and fourth being notified by the usual pause mark, "Selah."

Psalms 62:1

Truly my soul waiteth upon God; rather, my soul waiteth only upon God (Revised Version). The initial word, ak ( אַךְ), which occurs six times in this psalm (Psalms 62:1, Psalms 62:2, Psalms 62:4, Psalms 62:5, Psalms 62:6, Psalms 62:9), is best translated "only" in every instance. It always intensifies the word or phrase to which it is attached—"only upon God"—"only he"—"only from his excellency"—"only vanity." From him cometh my salvation (comp. Psalms 35:3; Psalms 37:39; Psalms 65:5, etc.).

Psalms 62:2

He only is my Rock (comp. Psalms 61:2, and the comment ad loc.). And my Salvation (so Psalms 18:2; Psalms 27:1; Psalms 118:14, Psalms 118:21). He is my Defence; or, my High Tower, my Strong Hold. I shall not be greatly moved. Comp. Psalms 62:6, where, with still greater confidence, the waiter declares, "I shall not be moved," i.e. not moved, or shaken in my faith, at all.

Psalms 62:3

How long will ye imagine mischief agaiust a man? rather, How long will ye assault (or, set upon) a man? Attack him, that is—seek to do him grievous hurt, as ye are attacking me. Ye shall be slain all of you; rather, that ye may crush him, all of you together. The hope of the conspirators under Absalom was in their united strength. As a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. The words supplied in the Authorized Version should be omitted. It is David who is viewed by his enemies as a bulged wall (see Isaiah 30:15) or a tottering fence, which it requires only a strong push to throw down.

Psalms 62:4

They only consult to cast him down from his excellency; i.e. they have no other thought but this—to cast me down from my high station, while I have no other thought but to trust in God, and to look to him for support and protection (Psalms 62:1, Psalms 62:2, Psalms 62:6). They delight in lies. Some indication of the "lies" circulated against David at this Time is given in 2 Samuel 15:3-5; 2 Samuel 16:7, 2 Samuel 16:8. They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly; literally, they bless with his mouth, which may be explained as meaning either, "They bless, each of them, with his mouth" (Kay, Cheyne), or "they Bless through the mouth of their leader "—i.e. Ahithophel (Canon Cook).

Psalms 62:5-8

From the thought of his bitter enemies and their wicked machinations against him, the psalmist returns to expressions of his own full confidence in God—first falling back on almost the identical words of his opening stanza (comp. Psalms 62:5, Psalms 62:6 with Psalms 62:1, Psalms 62:2); then slightly varying them (Psalms 62:7); and finally commending trust and confidence to the remnant of the people who continue faithful to God and to his anointed (Psalms 62:8).

Psalms 62:5

My soul, wait thou only upon God. Compare the opening words of the psalm, which are nearly identical. For my expectation is from him. "Expectation" here takes the place of "salvation" in Psalms 62:1. Otherwise there is no difference. The God who has given salvation in the past is the Being from whom it is expected in the future.

Psalms 62:6

He only is my Rock and my Salvation; he is my Defence; I shall not be moved. Identical with Psalms 62:2, except in the omission of the single word "greatly." The psalmist's confidence has increased. He feels now that, whatever his enemies may attempt, he will not be shaken at all.

Psalms 62:7

In God is my salvation and my glory. The last phrase is new. The psalmist feels that the God who saves him, at the same time sheds on him glory and honour. The Rock of my strength, and my Refuge, is in God (comp. Psalms 9:9; Psalms 57:2; Psalms 94:22, etc.).

Psalms 62:8

Trust in him at all times, ye people. It is characteristic of David to join the "people" with himself in all his fears and in all his hopes. Even at the worst times, God had always some faithful ones in Israel—a "remnant" (Isaiah 1:9); and men of this sort clung to David through all his perils, and were sufficiently numerous to constitute a "people" (see 2 Samuel 18:1-6). Pour out your heart before him (comp. Psalms 42:4; Psalms 142:2, etc.): God is a Refuge for us (comp. Psalms 62:7).

Psalms 62:9-12

"Here the psalmist becomes didactic" (Professor Cheyne). He encourages the faithful, and warns the wicked, by the declaration that men of every sort "are but vanity"—have no strength, no permanence—while power belongs only to God. Those who "oppress" and "rob" are, consequently, not to be feared—there is no strength in riches—God alone determines the issues of things. Unto him belongs mercy, or loving kindness—a quality which leads him not only to forgive men their transgressions, but to "reward" them, when, by his assisting grace, they have done good works.

Psalms 62:9

Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie; rather, only vanity—or, nought but vanityare men of low degree; common men, as we call them—mere sons of Adam. This is too evident for dispute; but, in the view of the psalmist, this is not the worst. "Men of high degree" (beney ish) are no better—they are "a lie"—an unreality—a fading, false illusion. To be laid in the balance; rather, in the balance, they go up (Hupfeld, Ewald Hitzig, Revised Version). They are altogether lighter than vanity; or, altogether made out of vanity (Kay); i.e. there is no substance, no solidity, in them.

Psalms 62:10

Trust not in oppression (comp. Psalms 62:3). The class that supported Absalom was the class of oppressors in Israel, whom David kept under and restrained as far as possible. The writer warns them against trusting in their power to oppress, since such strength as they have is not their own, but lent them by God. And become not vain in robbery; or, rely not vainly on robbery (Kay). Do not suppose that God will allow you to continue oppressing and robbing. Such a belief is a vain illusion. If riches increase, set not your heart upon them. Even when wealth accumulates naturally, and not as the result of ill-doing, it is not a thing to be trusted or set store by.

Psalms 62:11

God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this (comp. Job 33:14). When a thing is spoken twice, then assurance is made doubly sure. That power belongeth unto God. God, i.e; is the only ultimate Source of all power.

Psalms 62:12

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; or, loving kindness. "Of Divine power all nature speaks; the knowledge of God's mercy rests mainly on revelation" (Kay). For thou renderest to every man according to his work. When God rewards well doing, it is Still of his mercy, since no man can claim that he deserves reward.

HOMILIES BY W. FORSYTH

Psalms 62:1-12

This is a psalm of testimony.

It includes two things.

I. AN EXPRESSION OF PERSONAL CONFIDENCE IN GOD. Some trust in themselves; others in their fellow men; others, in the laws of nature. All this is so far good. It is well to be self-reliant. It is well to take advantage of the wisdom and help of others. It is well to act in the line of law, and in dependence upon the settled order of things with which we are connected. But there is something higher and better. The true way is to trust in God. Trust in God puts things in their right places; inspires courage and fortitude; ennobles and satisfies our whole being (Psalms 62:5-7).

II. AN EARNEST EXHORTATION TO ALL MEN TO PUT THEIR TRUST IN GOD. (Psalms 62:8-12.) All men have their trials. There will come times when they are troubled and perplexed, when they must look out of themselves anxiously for help. They are tempted. They are in danger of putting their trust in objects that are vain and worthless. If disappointed, they are apt to get soured and hardened in sin. The remedy counselled is twofold.

1. Trust. God is the true and only Being worthy of supreme trust. There is everything in him to inspire confidence and hope. "At all times." In the darkness and in the light, in adversity as won as prosperity; when he hides his face as when he makes his countenance to shine upon us.

2. Prayer. We are always free to come to God. We may tell him all that is in our hearts. What a joy in this trust! What a comfort in this unbosoming of ourselves! God will not only hear, but have pity. He will not only answer, but magnify his "power" and his "mercy" in our deliverance. Who so fit to give this counsel—as to trust and prayer—as the man who is speaking from the depths of his own experience, and from the abiding convictions of his own heart (2 Corinthians 4:13; 1 John 1:1-3)!—W.F.

Psalms 62:1

Waiting.

"Silent unto God"—so the word "waiteth" may be interpreted. Take this in connection with the word "only" repeated with such emphasis and meaning, and we may understand the silence as deeply expressive.

I. SIGN OF FAITH. The soul says, "I can trust and wait."

II. RECORD OF CONFLICT. There has been a struggle. Peace has not been won without a hard fight, and "strong crying and tears." We must sacrifice self before we can say, in the silence of our hearts, "All is well."

III. EXPRESSION OF THE SOUL'S COMPLETE ACQUIESCENCE. There may have been disappointments from men, but there is hope in God. He is to be trusted at all times. His will is holy and good, and all our "expectation is from him." Hence there is the stillness of content (Psalms 62:5-8).

IV. FORESHADOWING OF VICTORY. "Power belongeth unto God," and that power is pledged in behalf of his people. How God may work we cannot surely tell, but we wait for light. There is a time to "stand still" (Exodus 14:13); and there is a time to "go forward" (Exodus 14:15). When we do as the Lord commands, we shall "see the salvation of God."—W.F.

Psalms 62:6

Steadfastness.

"I shall not be moved." We are susceptible to influence. We may be "moved." The word here is not a boast, but an expression of confidence in God. Peter said, in effect, "I shall not be moved," and he was put to shame. But if we trust in God, then our strength will not fail. We shall stand "steadfast and immovable" in the surges of the waves and the violence of the storm. There is the—

I. CONSCIOUSNESS OF RIGHTNESS.

II. THE SENSE OF BEING BACKED BY THE POWER OF GOD.

III. THE OVERMASTERING FORCE OF LOVE.

IV. THE EXULTING PROSPECT OF FINAL VICTORY. Paul said, "None of these things move me" (Acts 20:24). So all strong in the love of God and in the confidence that right must triumph in the end, will suffer rather than sin, and die rather than be false to Christ (Hebrew Psalms 12:1, Psalms 12:2).—W.F.

Psalms 62:9

Laid in the balance.

I. RANK. Precedence among men does not depend on moral worth. It is a matter of etiquette. The man of "low degree" before men may be of "high degree" before God. The man who gets the "lowest place" in the great houses of this world may sit in the highest place in the kingdom of God. "Knighthoods and honours borne without desert are titles but of scorn" (Shakespeare). The true honour is that which cometh from God only.

II. RICHES. Most people would like to be rich. In this, as in other matters, there is a right way and a wrong way. It is hinted (Psalms 62:10) that if riches increase, it may be by "oppression" and "robbery." But though they should be obtained lawfully, they bring great responsibilities and risks, and often prove a delusion and a mockery (1 Timothy 6:9). The true riches are not in the hand, but in the heart; not in the abundance of things outward, but in faith and love and good works—in being "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

III. REFUTATION. What others think of us is of importance. It so far settles our place and our influence in society. But the judgment of men is not the judgment of God. In the world, in society, in the Church, our reputation may stand high, but if our reputation and our character—which is what we are really and in the sight of God—do not agree, we are but hypocrites and liars. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 5:20).—W.F.

Psalms 62:11

Omnipotence.

"Power belongeth unto God."

I. EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION. All around us we see evidences of power. Much of it can be traced to man. But besides, mark the forces that are continually at work, in the earth and in the heavens,—and behind all these is God. He is the Force of all forces. Even with man, in sight of all his works, boasting is excluded. What have we that we have not received? "In God we live and move and have our being."

II. EMPLOYED FOR THE HIGHEST INTERESTS OF MEN. Power in bad hands is a curse. But in good hands it is a blessing. God alone is capable of using power in the wisest manner, and for the best and holiest ends. It is true that, as God works by means, he of necessity limits himself. He has established a certain order of things, and by this he is pleased, so far, to bind himself in his actions. But in everything we may see his mercy and truth. In the material, the mental, and the spiritual world he is ever working, animating, upholding, and controlling all things for the advancement of his own holy ends and for the highest good of his creatures.

III. SECURING THE ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS OF THE GOOD. Power without love is brutality. Love without power is weakness. God's power is in Christ—for our redemption (Romans 1:4; Acts 10:38; Ephesians 1:19; Matthew 28:18; John 17:2). This power is quickening (Ephesians 2:1), regulating (Acts 9:1-9), energizing (Philippians 4:19), elevating (Ephesians 1:19), consoling (2 Corinthians 12:9). It rests as a beneficent influence on God's people, for time and for eternity.—W.F.

HOMILIES BY C. SHORT

Psalms 62:1-12

Danger and safety.

The psalmist, like a mighty eagle, poises himself on the wings of his faith at a great height above the dangers that threatened him, and feels safe. Three things claim consideration.

I. DANGER.

1. His kingly dignity was threatened. (Psalms 62:4.) The position of the Christian is in constant danger.

2. His life was in danger. (Psalms 62:3.) His enemies rushed upon him to overthrow him as if he were a bowing wall or a tottering fence. Our spiritual life is in danger from numerous foes.

II. SAFETY THE MOST ABSOLUTE.

1. He silently trusts in God as Salvation. Does not pray, but confidently trusts, as a child in his father. Heaps epithet on epithet, denoting the sense of safety. "High Tower, Rock," etc. The perfection of trust in God.

2. He exhorts others to the same perfect trust. "At all times." God is the common Refuge and Salvation for all who will trust him, because he "careth" for all.

III. THE REVELATION ON WHICH HIS TRUST WAS GROUNDED. (Psalms 62:11, Psalms 62:12.)

1. That God has universal power. If we need strength, we are to seek it, not in robbery or riches, but in God, who is Almighty.

2. That God is filled also with loving kindness. "Power without love is brutality, and love without power is weakness;" but when both are combined they are the guarantee of righteous rule, and that God will "reward every man according to his work."—S.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 62:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/psalms-62.html. 1897.

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