Psalms 63

PSALM LXIII

David's soul thirsts after God, while absent from the

sanctuary, and longs to be restored to the Divine

ordinances, 1, 2.

He expresses strong confidence in the Most High, and praises

him for his goodness, 3-8;

shows the misery of those who do not seek God, 9, 10;

and his own safety as king of the people, 11.

NOTES ON PSALM LXIII

The title of this Psalm is, A Psalm of David, when he was in the

wilderness of Judea; but instead of Judea, the Vulgate,

Septuagint, AEthiopic, Arabic, several of the ancient Latin

Psalters, and several of the Latin fathers, read Idumea, or

Edom; still there is no evidence that David had ever taken

refuge in the deserts of Idumea. The Hebrew text is that which

should be preferred; and all the MSS. are in its favour. The

Syriac has, "Of David, when he said to the king of Moab, My

father and mother fled to thee from the face of Saul; and I also

take refuge with thee." It is most probable that the Psalm was

written when David took refuge in the forest of Hareth, in the

wilderness of Ziph, when he fled from the court of Achish. But

Calmet understands it as a prayer by the captives in Babylon.

Verse 1. O God, thou art my God] He who can say so, and feels

what he says, need not fear the face of any adversary. He has God,

and all sufficiency in him.

Early will I seek thee] From the dawn of day. De luce, from the

light, Vulgate; as soon as day breaks; and often before this, for

his eyes prevented the night-watches; and he longed and watched

for God more than they who watched for the morning. The old

Psalter says, God my God, til the fram light I wake; and

paraphrases thus: God of all, thurgh myght; thu is my God, thurgh

lufe and devocion; speciali till the I wak. Fra light, that is,

fra thy tym that the light of thi grace be in me, that excites fra

night of sine. And makes me wak till the in delite of luf, and

swetnes in saul. Thai wak till God, that setes all thar thoght on

God, and for getns the werld. Thai slep till God, that settis

thair hert on ani creatur.-I wak till the, and that gars me thirst

in saule and body.

What first lays hold of the heart in the morning is likely to

occupy the place all the day. First impressions are the most

durable, because there is not a multitude of ideas to drive them

out, or prevent them from being deeply fixed in the moral feeling.

In a dry and thirsty land] beerets, IN a land: but

several MSS. have keerets, AS a dry and thirsty land, &c.

Verse 2. To see thy power and thy glory-in the sanctuary.] In

his public ordinances God had often showed his power in the

judgments he executed, in the terror he impressed, and in

awakening the sinful; and his glory in delivering the tempted,

succouring the distressed, and diffusing peace and pardon through

the hearts of his followers. God shows his power and glory in his

ordinances; therefore public worship should never be neglected.

We must see God, says the old Psalter, that he may see us. In

his temple he dispenses his choicest blessings.

Verse 3. Thy loving-kindness is better than life] This is the

language of every regenerate soul. But O how few prefer the

approbation of God to the blessings of life, or even to life

itself in any circumstances! But the psalmist says, Thy

loving-kindness, chasdecha, thy effusive mercy, is better

mechaiyim, than LIVES: it is better than, or good beyond,

countless ages of human existence.

My lips shall praise thee.] Men praise, or speak well, of power,

glory, honour, riches, worldly prospects and pleasures; but the

truly religious speak well of GOD, in whom they find infinitely

more satisfaction and happiness than worldly men can find in the

possession of all earthly good.

Verse 4. I will lift up my hands in thy name.] I will take God

for my portion. I will dedicate myself to him, and will take him

to witness that I am upright in what I profess and do. Pious Jews,

in every place of their dispersion, in all their prayers, praises,

contracts, &c., stretched out their hands towards Jerusalem, where

the true God had his temple, and where he manifested his presence.

Verse 5. My soul shall be satisfied] I shall have, in the true

worshipping of thee, as complete a sensation of spiritual

sufficiency and happiness, so that no desire shall be left

unsatisfied, as any man can have who enjoys health of body, and a

fulness of all the necessaries, conveniences, and comforts of

life.

Verse 6. When I remember thee upon my bed] I will lie down in

thy fear and love; that I may sleep soundly under thy protection,

and awake with a sense of thy presence and approbation; and when I

awake in the night watches, or be awakened by them, I will spend

the waking moments in meditation upon thee.

Verse 7. Therefore in the shadow of thy wings] I will get into

the very secret of thy presence, into the holy of holies, to the

mercy-seat, over which the cherubs extend their wings. If the

psalmist does not allude to the overshadowing of the mercy-seat by

the extended wings of the cherubim, he may have in view, as a

metaphor, the young of fowls, seeking shelter, protection, and

warmth under the wings of their mothers. See the same metaphor,

Ps 61:4. When a bird of prey appears, the chickens will, by

natural instinct, run under the wings of their mothers for

protection.

The old Psalter translates, And in hiling of thi wenges I sall

joy. The paraphrase is curious. "Thou art my helper, in perels;

and I can joy in gode dedes in thi hiling, (covering,) for I am

thi bride, (bird,) and if thou hil (cover) me noght, the glede

(kite) will rawis me, (carry me away.")

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee]

dabekah naphshi achareycha, "My soul cleaves (or) is glued after

thee." This phrase 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.

Verse 9. Lower parts of the earth.] They are appointed, in the

just judgment of God, to destruction; they shall be slain and

buried in the earth, and shall be seen no more. Some understand

the passage as referring to the punishment of hell; which many

supposed to be in the centre of the earth. So the old

Psalter,-Thai sall entir in till lagher pine of hell. Lahher

or laigher, lower, undermost.

Verse 10. They shall fall by the sword] They shall be poured out

by the hand of the sword, Heb. That is, their life's blood shall

be shed either in war, or by the hand of justice.

They shall be a portion for foxes.] They shall be left unburied,

and the jackals shall feed upon their dead bodies. Or, being all

cut off by utter destruction, their inheritance shall be left for

the wild beasts. That which was their portion shall shortly be the

portion of the wild beasts of the forest. If he here refers to the

destruction of the Babylonians, the prediction has been literally

fulfilled. Where ancient Babylon stood, as far as it can be

ascertained, is now the hold of dangerous reptiles and ferocious

beasts. The jackal, or chokal, is a very ravenous beast, and fond

of human flesh. It devours dead bodies, steals infants out of the

lap of their mothers, devours alive the sick who are left by the

side of the Ganges, and even in the streets of Calcutta has been

known to eat persons who were in a state of intoxication. WARD'S

Customs.

Verse 11. But the king shall rejoice] David shall come to the

kingdom according to the promise of God. Or, if it refer to the

captivity, the blood royal shall be preserved in and by

Zerubbabel till the Messiah come, who shall be David's spiritual

successor in the kingdom for ever.

That sweareth by him] It was customary to swear by the life of

the king. The Egyptians swore by the life of Pharaoh; and

Joseph conforms to this custom, as may be seen in the book of

Genesis, Ge 42:15, 16. See also 1Sa 1:26; 17:55, and

Judith 11:7. But here it may refer to GOD. He is THE KING, and

swearing by his name signifies binding themselves by his

authority, acknowledging his supremacy, and devoting themselves

to his glory and service alone.

The Chaldee has: "And the King shall rejoice bemeymar

Eloha, in the WORD of God;" or, in the WORD GOD; Meymar, WORD,

being taken here substantially, as in many other places, by the

Targumist.

The mouth of them that speak lies] The mouth of those who

acknowledge lying vanities, that worship false gods, shall be

stopped. All false religions shall be destroyed by the

prevalence of the truth. For he, CHRIST, shall reign till all his

enemies are put under his feet. "Thy kingdom come, and hell's

o'erpower: and to thy sceptre all subdue." Amen and Amen.

ANALYSIS OF THE SIXTY-THIRD PSALM

The contents are,-

I. David's ardent desire to be in the assembly of the saints,

Ps 63:1. And the

reasons on which this desire was founded, Ps 63:2-5.

II. That though absent from God's ordinances, yet he forgot not

his Maker, Ps 63:6-8.

III. A double prophecy. 1. What should befall his enemies,

Ps 63:9, 10. And, 2. What should come to himself, Ps 63:11.

I. 1. In the first part he states his confidence in God, as the

foundation of his desires, contemplations, meditations,

invocations, and consolations: "O God, thou art my God," Ps 63:1.

2. Then he expresses his fervent desire and ardent affection. 1.

"Early will I seek thee." THEE, not other things. 2. "My soul

thirsteth for thee," &c. There is no doubt that he wanted many

things in this barren thirsty land; but of this he does not

complain, but of his want of God in the sanctuary.

And so he expresses himself in the following verse: He was about

to see the power and glory of God in the sanctuary, as he had

formerly done. He gives the reason of this: "Because thy

loving-kindness is better than life," Ps 63:3. To see thy

goodness in the use of thy ordinances, I count far beyond all the

blessings of life; and could I again be admitted there, these

effects would follow:-

1. Praise: "My lips shall praise," &c., Ps 63:4.

2. Invocation and prayer: "I will lift up my hands," &c.,

Ps 63:4.

3. The satisfaction he should receive from these: "My mouth

shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness," &c., Ps 63:5.

II. Though David is now in the wilderness, he does not forget

his duty.

1. Even there he remembered God upon his bed; and meditated,

&c., Ps 63:6.

2. "Because thou hast been my help; therefore," &c., Ps 63:7.

3. "My soul followeth hard after thee," &c., Ps 63:8. It is

evident, therefore, that even here David was not without comfort;

for, 1. He meditates, and remembers what God had done for him. 2.

He remembers that he had been his help; and therefore he rejoices.

3. He still adheres to him, and follows hard after him for help

still.

III. And now, being secure of God's protection, he foretells, 1.

What would befall his enemies; and, 2. What would come to himself.

1. To his enemies, ruin: "Those who seek after my soul, they

shall go (some) into the lower parts of the earth," the grave or

hell.

Others should "fall by the sword," lie unburied, and be devoured

by wild beasts.

-----------ελωριατευχεκυνεσσιν

οιωνοισιτεπασι

Il., I. ver. 4.

"Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore,

Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore."

POPE.

2. To himself, honour and a crown: "But the king (David) shall

rejoice in God." The reason is,-

1. "Every one that swears by him," that is who worships and

fears God, an oath being put by synecdoche for the whole worship

of God. See the notes.

2. "The mouth of them that speak lies," utter blasphemies,

curses, and perjuries, or pray and confess to strange gods, "shall

be stopped;" they shall be ashamed and confounded, and an end be

put to their iniquity by a sudden and violent death. The mouth of

God's people shall glory; but the mouth of the wicked shall be

stopped, and be silent in the dust.

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