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Psalm 63

Comfort and Assurance in God’s Presence

A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.


O God, you are my God, I seek you,

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.


So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.


Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.


So I will bless you as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands and call on your name.



My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,

and my mouth praises you with joyful lips


when I think of you on my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;


for you have been my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.


My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.



But those who seek to destroy my life

shall go down into the depths of the earth;


they shall be given over to the power of the sword,

they shall be prey for jackals.


But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by him shall exult,

for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

In the words which follow, David expresses his consequent resolution to praise God. When we experience his goodness, we are led to open our lips in thanksgiving. His intention is intimated still more clearly in the succeeding verse, where he says that he will bless God in his life There is some difficulty, however, in ascertaining the exact sense of the words. When it is said, So will I bless thee, etc., the so may refer to the good reason which he had, as just stated, to praise God, from having felt how much better it is to live by life communicated from God, than to live of and from ourselves. 430430     “Melius esse nobis vivificari ab ipso quam apud nos vivere.” Or the sense may be, so, that is, even in this calamitous and afflicted condition: for he had already intimated that, amidst the solitude of the wilderness, where he wandered, he would still direct his eye to God. The word life, again, may refer to his life as having been preserved by divine interposition; or the sense of the passage may be, that he would bless God through the course of his life. The former meaning conveys the fullest matter of instruction, and agrees with the context; he would bless God, because, by his goodness, he had been kept alive and in safety. The sentiment is similar to that which we find elsewhere,

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord;” — (Psalm 118:17)

and again; —

“The dead shall not praise the Lord, neither any that go down into silence, but we who live will bless the Lord,”
(Psalm 115:17, 18.)

In the lifting up of hands, 431431     “The practice of lifting up the hands in prayer towards heaven, the supposed residence of the object to which prayer is addressed, was anciently used, both by believers, as appears from various passages in the Old Testament, and by the heathen, agreeably to numerous instances in the classical writers. Parkhurst, considering the ‘hand’ to be the chief organ or instrument of man’s power and operations, and properly supposing the word to be thence used very extensively by the Hebrews for power, agency, dominion, assistance, and the like, regards the lifting up of men’s hands in prayer as an emblematical acknowledging of the power, and imploring of the assistance of their respective gods. Is it not, however, rather the natural and unstudied gesture of earnest supplication?” — Mant. in the second clause of the verse, allusion is made to praying and vowing; and he intimates, that besides giving thanks to God, he would acquire additional confidence in supplication, and be diligent in the exercise of it. Any experience we may have of the divine goodness, while it stirs us up to gratitude, should, at the same time, strengthen our hopes of the future, and lead us confidently to expect that God will perfect the grace which he has begun. Some understand by the lifting up of his hands, that he refers to praising the Lord. Others, that he speaks of encouraging himself from the divine assistance, and boldly encountering his enemies. But I prefer the interpretation which has been already given.

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