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Verses of Psalms 63

Psalms 63 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

The faith which inspires the two preceding Psalms reaches its climax here. At a distance from the sanctuary and in peril of his life, the Psalmist throws himself upon God. What he longs for above all things is the sense of God’s presence, as he realised it in the worship of the sanctuary (Psa 63:1-2). In lifelong thanksgiving for God’s love he will find his highest joy and satisfaction (Psa 63:3-5), spending whole nights in meditation upon Him as he recalls the greatness of His past mercies (Psa 63:6-7). While he draws closer and closer to God, his enemies will be banished into the nether darkness (Psa 63:8-9). While their corpses lie ignominiously exposed on the field of battle where they fell, he and those who are loyal to God and to him rejoice in God, and all factious opposition is silenced (Psa 63:10-11).

The Psalm does not admit of clear division into stanzas. Thought follows thought out of the fulness of a loving heart, and the precise connexion of the clauses is often obscure.

Such a Psalm teaches, more effectually than any formal definition, what is meant by a Personal God a God with Whom the soul can hold converse with the whole force and fervour of a loving devotion. Its lofty spirituality is such as few can reach. But the concluding verses of the Psalm seem to be on a lower level. “We pass all at once into a different atmosphere. We have come down, as it were, from the mount of holy aspirations, into the common everyday world, where human enemies are struggling, and human passions are strong. Yet this very transition, harsh as it is, gives us a wonderful sense of reality. In some respects, it brings the Psalm nearer to our own level. The man who has been pouring out the fervent affection of his heart towards God is no mystic or recluse, lost in ecstatic contemplation, but one who is fighting a battle with foes of flesh and blood, and who hopes to see their malice defeated, their power crushed, and their carcases left to be the prey of jackals in the wilderness” (Bp Perowne). It must be remembered too that the Psalmist felt strongly that his enemies were God’s enemies, and looked for their discomfiture, not only as a visible proof of God’s favour to himself, but as a manifest token that God had not withdrawn from the government of the world, and was surely, if slowly, establishing His Kingdom among men.

The author of this Psalm was a king, for unless it is of himself as king that he speaks in Psa 63:11, it is difficult to understand the relation of the king’s rejoicing to the destruction of the Psalmist’s enemies ( Psa 63:9-10). He was apparently at a distance from the sanctuary, and was in danger from malicious enemies, whose destruction he looks for on the field of battle. The title ascribes it to David, “when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” Since he is already king, it is not to his earlier wanderings (1Sa 23:14 ff), but to his flight from Absalom, that this title must be intended to refer. The road to Jericho by which David left Jerusalem led through the northern part of the desert of Judah, and he halted at “the fords of the wilderness” before crossing the Jordan (2Sa 15:23; 2Sa 15:28). The graphic narrative in 2 Sam. refers more than once to the privations which the king had to suffer in his hasty flight ( 2Sa 16:2 ; 2Sa 16:14; 2Sa 17:29; cp. Psa 17:2). The king and his followers were ‘weary’ in the ‘weary land,’ which supplied so apt a figure of his spiritual privations. The germ of the Psalm is to be found in the faith and resignation of David’s words to Zadok, “Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of Jehovah, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation: but if he say thus, I have no delight in thee; behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him” (2Sa 15:25 f). To part with the visible symbol of God’s power and presence argued no common faith: it shewed that he was no slave to the common superstition, which regarded God’s favour as tied to the Ark.

Much of the Psalm can certainly be explained from David’s situation, and if the reference of the Psalm to David is abandoned, it is idle to speculate as to the author and his circumstances. But whoever he was, the spiritual power and beauty of Psa 63:1-8 remain the same. It is no wonder that the Psalm was adopted by the early Church as its morning Psalm (primarily on the ground of the LXX rendering of Psa 63:1), as Psalms 141 was chosen for the evening Psalm. “The Fathers of the Church,” says St Chrysostom, “appointed it to be said every morning, as a spiritual song and a medicine to blot out our sins; to kindle in us a desire of God; to raise our souls, and inflame them with a mighty fire of devotion; to make us overflow with goodness and love, and send us with such preparation to approach and appear before God.” See Bingham’s Antiquities, B. xiii. 10.

Comp. (beside Psalms 61, 62) Psalms 42-43, the companion piece in the Korahite collection.

Verses of Psalms 63

Consult other comments:

Psalms 63:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 63:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 63:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 63:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 63:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 63:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 63:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 63:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 63:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges