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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.

8 My soul has cleaved hard after thee The Hebrew verb means also to apprehend, or follow, especially when in construction with the preposition which is here joined to it, and therefore we might very properly render the words, — My soul shall press or follow after thee. 434434     Dr Adam Clarke renders, “My soul cleaves, or is glued after thee.” “This phrase,” says he, “not only shows the diligence of the pursuit, and the nearness of the attainment, but also the fast hold he had got of the mercy of his God.” But even should the other translation be retained, the sense is, that David’s heart was devoted to God with steadfast perseverance. The phrase, after thee, is emphatical, and denotes that he would follow with unwearied constancy, long as the way might be, and full of hardships, and beset with obstacles, and however sovereignly God might himself seem to withdraw his presence. The latter clause of the verse may be taken as referring simply to the deliverance which he had previously mentioned as having been received. He had good reason to persevere, without fainting, in following after God, when he considered that he had been preserved in safety, up to this time, by the divine hand. But I would understand the words as having a more extensive application, and consider that David here speaks of the grace of perseverance, which would be bestowed upon him by the Spirit. To say that he would cleave to God, with an unwavering purpose, at all hazards, might have sounded like the language of vain boasting, had he not qualified the assertion by adding, that he would do this in so far as he was sustained by the hand of God.

9. And they, whilst they seek, etc. Here we find David rising to a more assured confidence, and triumphing as if he had already obtained the victory. And there is every reason to believe, that though he had escaped his difficulties, and was in circumstances of peace and prosperity when he wrote this psalm, yet he only expresses what he actually felt at the critical period when his life was in such imminent danger. He declares his conviction that the enemies who eagerly sought his life would be cut off; that God would cast them headlong into destruction; and that their very bodies should be left without burial. To be the portion of foxes, 437437     Under the Hebrew word שועל, shual, here rendered fox, was comprehended, in common language, the jackal, or Vulpes aureus, golden wolf, so called in Latin because its color is a bright yellow; and in this sense שועל, shual, has been generally interpreted here, because the jackal is found in Palestine, and feeds on carrion. Both of these circumstances are, however, also applicable to the fox, and, moreover, Bochart has made it probable that the specific name of the jackal (the θῶς of the Greeks) in Hebrew was אי, aye, the howler, being so called from the howling cry which he makes particularly at night. The term occurs in Isaiah 13:22; 34:14; and Jeremiah 50:39; where איים, ayim, is rendered, in our version, “the wild beasts of the islands,” an appellation very vague and indeterminate. At the same time, it is highly probable that shual generally refers to the jackal. Several of the modern oriental names of this animal, as the Turkish chical, and the Persian sciagal, sciachal, or schachal — whence the English jackal — from their resemblance to the Hebrew word shual, favor this supposition; and Dr Shaw, and other travelers, inform us, that while jackals are very numerous in Palestine, the common fox is rarely to be met with. We shall, therefore, be more correct, under these circumstances, in admitting that the jackal of the East is the Hebrew shual These animals never go alone, but always associate in packs of from fifty to two hundred. They are known to prey on dead bodies; and so greedy are they of human carcases, that they dig them out of their graves, and devour them, however putrescent They have been seen waiting near the grave at the time of a funeral eagerly watching their opportunity of digging up the body almost as soon as it was buried. “I have known several instances,” says a traveler quoted by Merrick, “of their attacking and devouring drunken men, whom they have found lying on the road, and have heard that they will do the same to men that are sick and helpless. I have seen many graves that have been opened by the jackals, and parts of the bodies pulled out by them.” They visit the field of battle to prey upon the dying and the dead, and they follow caravans for the same purpose. It is usual with the barbarous nations of the East to leave the bodies of their enemies, killed in battle, in the field, to be devoured by jackals and other animals. When the Psalmist, therefore, says that his enemies would become a portion for foxes, the meaning is, that they would be denied the rites of sepulture, which was deemed a great calamity, — that they should be left unburied, for jackals and other wild beasts to prey upon and devour. is the same thing with being left to be torn and devoured by the beasts of the field. It is often denounced as one judgment which should befall the wicked, that they would perish by the sword, and become the prey of wolves and of dogs, without privilege of sepulture. This is a fate which the best of men have met with in the world, — for good as well as bad are exposed to the stroke of temporal evil; — but there is this distinction, that God watches over the scattered dust of his own children, gathers it again, and will suffer nothing of them to perish, whereas, when the wicked are slain, and their bones spread on the field, this is only preparatory to their everlasting destruction.

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