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Psalm 62

Song of Trust in God Alone

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

1

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

2

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

 

3

How long will you assail a person,

will you batter your victim, all of you,

as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

4

Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.

They take pleasure in falsehood;

they bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse.Selah

 

5

For God alone my soul waits in silence,

for my hope is from him.

6

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

7

On God rests my deliverance and my honor;

my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

 

8

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us.Selah

 


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1. Nevertheless, my soul is silent towards God. Should the translation I have followed be adopted, the psalm is to be considered as beginning abruptly, in the usual style of compositions of an impassioned kind. 409409     “Sicuti patheticae sententiae ut plurimum defectivae sunt.” — Lat. “Comme nous scavons que les propos dits de quelque affection vehemente, le plus souvent sont imparfaits.” — Fr. Of this we have an instance in Psalm 73, where the prophet, who had been agitated with doubts, as we shall see more particularly afterwards, suddenly brings his mind to a fixed decision, and, in the way of cutting off all further subject of debate, exclaims, “Yet God is good to Israel.” And so it is, I conceive, in the psalm before us. We know that the Lord’s people cannot always reach such a measure of composure as to be wholly exempt from distraction. They would wish to receive the word of the Lord with submission, and to be dumb under his correcting hand; but inordinate affections will take possession of their minds, and break in upon that peace which they might otherwise attain to in the exercise of faith and resignation. Hence the impatience we find in many; an impatience which they give vent to in the presence of God, and which is an occasion to themselves of much trouble and disquietude. The Hebrew particle אך, ach, is often used in an exclusive sense, and has been rendered by some, only; it is also employed in an affirmative sense, and has been rendered truly, or certainly. But in order to arrive at its full meaning, we must suppose that David felt an inward struggle and opposition, which he found it necessary to check. Satan had raised a tumult in his affections, and wrought a degree of impatience in his mind, which he now curbs; and he expresses his resolution to be silent. 410410     The import of the Hebrew word is “patient silence.” The Septuagint reads, “Ουχι τῶ Θεῶ ὑποταγήσεται ἡ ψυχή μου? “Shall not my soul be subject to God?” And doubtless the Psalmist intended to say that his soul was quiet, submissive, and subject; the rebellious affections being tamed and subdued. With respect to the translation of our English Bible, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God,” Dr Adam Clarke remarks, “I do not think that the original will warrant this translation.” He reads, “Surely to God only is my soul dumb;” which he thus explains: “I am subject to God Almighty. He has a right to lay on me what He pleases; and what He lays on me is much less than I deserve; therefore am I dumb before God. The Vulgate, and, almost all the versions, have understood it in this sense: ‘Nonne Deo subjecta erit anima mea? Shall not my soul be subject to God?’” With this agree the version and interpretation of Calvin. The word implies a meek and submissive endurance of the cross. It expresses the opposite of that heat of spirit which would put us into a posture of resistance to God. The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction. The Hebrew word דומיה, dumiyah, which I have rendered is silent, some consider to be the noun; and it is of little consequence which translation we adopt.

The particle אך, ach, in the second verse, I would render in the same way as in the first. The believer triumphs in one encounter with temptation only to enter upon another; and here David, who appeared to have emerged from his distress, shows that he had still to struggle with remaining difficulties. We meet with the same particle no fewer than six times throughout the psalm. This, too, may explain the many titles which he applies to God, each of which is to be considered as a foil by which he would ward off the attacks of the tempter. The expression in the close of the verse, I shall not be greatly moved, implies his persuasion that he might be overtaken with afflictions, (for he was well aware that he could claim no exemption from the common lot of humanity,) but his conviction, at the same time, that these would not overwhelm him, through the good help of God. We shall find him saying afterwards, in so many words, I shall not fall; perhaps because he felt, as he advanced in prayer, that he had greater boldness in despising affliction. Or the expressions may be taken as synonymous in the two places. The truth itself is unquestionable. The believer may be overthrown for a time; but as he is no sooner cast down than he is raised up again by God, he cannot properly be said to fall. He is supported by the Spirit of God, and is not therefore really prostrated and overcome.

3. How long will ye continue mischief? The Hebrew word תהותתו, tehotethu, 412412     Hammond observes, that this verb “is but once used in the Scriptures, and so will not be easily interpreted but either by the notion which we find put upon it by the ancient interpreters, or else by the Arabic use of it.” The Chaldee renders it, raise tumults; the Syriac, stir up, instigate, incite, or provoke; the Septuagint and Vulgate, assail, or rush upon; and the Arabic, use violence or injustice Gesenius gives the sense of the Septuagint. Kimchi and Aben Ezra read, pravitatis cogitabitis “Abu Walid compares תהותתו with the Arabic תהתהתו, with t, not with th, which signifies to multiply words; and so he would have it, according to the use of it in that tongue, to signify speaking much against, backbiting, defaming, spreading evil reports of, lashing out with your tongues against, for hurt. What he thus observes of תהותתו, with t, not th, may have place also with the word, as we have it; for the root with ת, th also in Arabic signifies mentiri, to lie, and confusion, injustice, violence; which as well agree to his sense as that of the root with t.” When David says, against a man, and uses also the third person in the fourth verse, it is of himself that he speaks. “Against a man; i e., against me, a man like yourselves, whom common hmnanity obliges you to pity; a single man, who is no fit match for you.” — Pooles Annotations which I have translated continue, or lengthen out, mischief, is rendered by some, to meditate, or imagine mischief, while others suppose an allusion to the putting forth of the tongue in sign of mockery. It has been rendered also, to rush upon, or assault. The sense of the passage seems to be, How long will ye meditate evil against a man, and persist in mischievous devices for accomplishing his ruin? He has in view the obstinate malice of his enemies, moving every stone for his destruction, and forming new plans daily for effecting it. The instruction to be learned from his experience is, that we should exercise patience, even when our enemies show unwearied cruelty in their attempts to destroy us, and are instigated by the devil to incessant artifices for our persecution. We may just advert to the meaning of the figure which is subjoined. Some think that the wicked are compared to a bowing wall, because it threatens every moment to fall to the ground, and they, upon every sin which they commit, tend more and more downwards, till they are precipitated into destruction. But it would seem as if the allusion were somewhat different. A wall, when ill built, bulges out in the center, presenting the appearance of nearly twice its actual breadth; but, as it is hollow within, it soon falls to ruins. The wicked, in like manner, are dilated with pride, and assume, in their consultations, a most formidable appearance; but David predicts that they would be brought to unexpected and utter destruction, like a wall badly constructed, and hollow in the interior, which falls with a sudden crash, and is broken by its own weight into a thousand pieces. 413413     Isaiah has also made use of this image to express sudden and utter destruction, (chapter 30:13.) The word גדר, gader, which I have rendered, a fence, means, properly, an enclosure built of slight and insufficient materials; 414414     In the East it is common for the inhabitants to enclose their vineyards and gardens with hedges, consisting of various kinds of shrubs, and particularly such as are armed with spines. They have also mounds of earth-walls about their gardens. Rawwolff describes the gardens about Jerusalem as surrounded by mud-walls, not above four feet high, easily climbed over, and washed down by rain in a very little time. Stone-walls are also frequently used. Thus Egmont or Heyman, describing the country about Saphet, a celebrated city of Galilee, tells us, “The country round it is finely improved, the declivity being covered with vines, supported by low walls. — Harmers Observations, volume 2, pp. 216-219. Doubdan describes some of these in the Holy Land as built of loose stones, without any cement to join them. The original word probably means some such “fence” as this. Indeed, it always appears to denote a wall of stones: sometimes in express contradistinction to the hedge, or thorny fence. — See Parkhursts Lexicon, on גדר and an epithet is added still more to express the violence and impetuosity of their fall. The Psalmist, then, would teach us that, high as our enemies may appear to stand, and proud and swelling as their denunciations may be, they shall be suddenly and signally overthrown, like a smitten wall.

4. Yet they consult to cast him down from his elevation I still would interpret the particle אך, ach, in an adversative sense. David, on the one hand, encouraged himself by determining to rest steadfastly upon the promise of divine favor; but, upon the other, he had before him the machinations of his enemies, characterised by cruelty, audacity, pride, and deceit. By all their attempts, as if he had said, they do nothing but precipitate their own fall; still such are the frenzy and the fury by which they are actuated, that they persist in their intrigues against me. He insinuates that their attacks were directed, not so much against himself as against God — agreeably to the picture which is given us of impiety by the poets in their fable of the Giants. 415415     “Les Poetes profanes ont dit que les Geans delibererent de prendre les plus hautes montagnes et les mettans l’une sur l’autre, monter jusques au ciel, pour arracher Jupiter de son siege.” — Fr. marg. “It was said by the profane poets that the Giants formed a design of taking the highest mountains which they could find piling them one above another, scaling the heavens, and taking Jupiter by storm.” Nothing will satisfy the enemies of God but setting themselves above the heavens. David is to be understood as primarily speaking here of himself in the third person, but of himself as elevated expressly by the divine hand. Accordingly, though we might consider that God is the party directly intended, the scope of the words rather intimates that they aimed at the overthrow of one whom God had exalted, and desired to establish in honor. In thus attempting to thwart his purpose, they were really fighting against God. The clause which follows, they delight in lies, has reference to the same thing. Refusing to acknowledge his divine vocation, they persevered in following such corrupt designs, as could only recoil upon them to their own confusion, as the Psalmist exclaims,

“O ye sons of men! how long is my glory made matter of your reproach? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” — (Psalm 4:2)

Or the expression may denote the hidden and deceitful measures which they adopted in their persecution of this saint of God; for it is immediately added, that they blessed with their mouth, but cursed inwardly Whatever may be the meaning, it is evident that David, contemplating all the treachery, intrigues, and wickedness of his enemies, supports himself by the single consideration, that his help was in God, and that every opposing instrumentality was therefore vain.

5. Nevertheless, my soul, be thou silent before God. Here there may appear to be a slight inconsistency, inasmuch as he encourages himself to do what he had already declared himself to have done. His soul was silent before God; and where the necessity of this new silence, as if still under agitation of spirit? Here it is to be remembered, that our minds can never be expected to reach such perfect composure as shall preclude every inward feeling of disquietude, but are, at the best, as the sea before a light breeze, fluctuating sensibly, though not swollen into billows. It is not without a struggle that the saint can compose his mind; and we can very well understand how David should enjoin more perfect submission upon a spirit which was already submissive, urging upon himself farther advancement in this grace of silence, till he had mortified every carnal inclination, and thoroughly subjected himself to the will of God. How often, besides, will Satan renew the disquietudes which seemed to be effectually expelled? Creatures of such instability, and liable to be borne away by a thousand different influences, we need to be confirmed again and again. I repeat, that there is no reason to be surprised though David here calls upon himself a second time to preserve that silence before God, which he might already appear to have attained; for, amidst the disturbing motions of the flesh, perfect composure is what we never reach. The danger is, that when new winds of troubles spring up, we lose that inward tranquillity which we enjoyed, and hence the necessity of improving the example of David, by establishing ourselves in it more and more. He adds the ground of his silence. He had no immediate response from God, but he confidently hoped in him. My expectation, he says, is from God. Never, as if he had said, will he frustrate the patient waiting of his saints; doubtless my silence shall meet with its reward; I shall restrain myself, and not make that false haste which will only retard my deliverance.

7. In God is my salvation One expression is here heaped upon another and this apparently because he wished to rein that infirmity of disposition which makes us so prone to slide into wrong exercise. We may throw out a passing and occasional acknowledgement, that our only help is to be found in God, and yet shortly display our distrust in him by busying ourselves in all directions to supplement what we consider defective in his aid. The various terms which he employs to express the sufficiency of God as a deliverer, may thus be considered as so many arguments to constancy, or so many checks which he would apply to the waywardness of the carnal heart, ever disposed to depend for support upon others rather than God. Such is the manner in which he animates his own spirit; and next, we find him addressing himself to others, calling upon them to enter upon the same conflict, and reap the same victory and triumph. By the people, there seems little doubt that he means the Jews. The Gentiles being yet unvisited by the true religion and divine revelation, it was only in Judea that God could be the object of trust and religious invocation; and it would appear, that by distinguishing the chosen people of the Lord from the surrounding heathen, he insinuates how disgraceful it would be in them not to devote themselves entirely to God, being, as they were, the children of Abraham, favored with the discovery of his grace, and specially taken under his divine protection. The expression, at all times, means both in prosperity and adversity, intimating the blameworthiness of those who waver and succumb under every variation in their outward circumstances. God tries his children with afflictions, but here they are taught by David to abide them with constancy and courage. The hypocrites, who are loud in their praises of God so long as prosperity shines upon their head, while their heart fails them upon the first approach of trial, dishonor his name by placing a most injurious limitation to his power. We are bound to put honor upon his name by remembering, in our greatest extremities, that to Him belong the issues of death. And as we are all too apt at such times to shut up our affliction in our own breast — a circumstance which can only aggravate the trouble and imbitter the mind against God, David could not have suggested a better expedient than that of disburdening our cares to him, and thus, as it were, pouring out our hearts before him. It is always found, that when the heart is pressed under a load of distress, there is no freedom in prayer. 419419     “Cependant que nostre coeur est enserre et comme estouppd de douleur, jamais il n’en sort de prieres naifves et franchement faites.” — Fr. Under trying circumstances, we must comfort ourselves by reflecting that God will extend relief, provided we just freely roll them over upon his consideration. What the Psalmist advises is all the more necessary, considering the mischievous tendency which we have naturally to keep our troubles pent up in our breasts till they drive us to despair. Usually, indeed, men show much anxiety and ingenuity in seeking to escape from the troubles which may happen to press upon them; but so long as they shun coming into the presence of God, they only involve themselves in a labyrinth of difficulties. Not to insist farther upon the words, David is here to be considered as exposing that diseased but deeply-rooted principle in our nature, which leads us to hide our griefs, and ruminate upon them, instead of relieving ourselves at once by pouring out our prayers and complaints before God. The consequence is, that we are distracted more and more with our distresses, and merge into a state of hopeless despondency. In the close of the verse, he says, in reference to the people generally, what he had said of himself individually, that their safety was to be found only under the divine protection.




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