The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 63

Psa 63:1

SUPERSCRIPTION: "A PSALM OF DAVID. WHEN HE WAS IN THE DESERT OF JUDAH." Saul's unremitting pursuit of David (1Sa 22:5; 23:14-16,19-26) or else David's flight from Jerusalem and Absalom's rebellion. Various details (eg, "king" in v 11) make the latter identification more prob.

(NT) Close // between the rebellion against David and the rejection of Jesus by his nation and esp by its rulers (WGos 730-732).

EARNESTLY I SEEK YOU: "Early will I seek thee" (AV): The habit of rising early in the morning is practically universal in Palestine (Psa 57:8; Gen 19:2; 21:14; 28:18; Exo 34:4; Job 1:5; Pro 1:28; etc). God is to be sought early in the morning; otherwise he is sought in vain: as the manna, unless collected at early dawn, dissolves.

IN A DRY AND WEARY LAND WHERE THERE IS NO WATER: Cp Psa 42:1,2; 84:2; 143:6. These words are to be given full value, both lit and spir (2Sa 16:2,14; 17:29). But banishment from friends and comforts does not banish one from God. In fact, it may bring God closer: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled" (Mat 5:6).

(NT) Cp the Lord's "I thirst" (Joh 19:28; Psa 22:15; 69:21; Isa 53:2 -- a root out of a "dry ground"). The scene of the Lord's crucifixion outside Jerusalem // the desolation of David's wilderness. The familiar hymn notwithstanding, the dry, hot and dusty Golgotha was anything but "a green hill" far away!

Psa 63:2

David's longing to be back in Jerusalem. He had sent back the ark of the covenant: 2Sa 15:25-29 (ct v 17: "far off").

IN THE SANCTUARY: (NT) (1) Jesus called before the Sanhedrin in solemn assembly? Or (2) the "sanctuary" of his own body (Joh 2:19)? Or (3) consider this and similar passages (Psa 27:4; 48:1-3,12,13; 84:1-4; 122:1-4,6,7) as the poss words and thoughts of the 12-year-old Jesus, making prob his first "official" visit to the Temple in Jerusalem (Luk 2:39-52).

YOUR POWER AND YOUR GLORY: Allusion to the ark of the covenant: Psa 73:24; 78:61; 1Sa 4:21; 1Ch 16:11. Note the phrasing in Psa 62:11,12: God speaking from the place of "power"! This phrase suggests the young man Isaiah seeing the power and glory of God in the Temple (Isa 6:1-8).

Psa 63:3

YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE: This word (chesed: "lovingkindness" in AV) often ref to God's Covenants of Promise: here, to the great promise of 2Sa 7, which was better than this life because it involved a promise to David of everlasting life in the kingdom of his Eternal Son (2Sa 7:16: "before thee"). But how was this promise to be fulfilled when a rebellious son reigned in Jerusalem?

Psa 63:4

I WILL PRAISE YOU AS LONG AS I LIVE: Impl man's mortality and the silence of death (Psa 6:5; 104:33; 146:2).

I WILL LIFT UP MY HANDS: Paul likewise exhorted men (brethren) to "lift up holy hands" in prayer (1Ti 2:8). "Holy hands" = "clean hands" in Psa 24:4; Jam 4:8. And Jeremiah adds, "Let us lift up our hearts with our hands" (Lam 3:41). Cp Psa 28:2; 134:2; 141:2; 1Ki 8:54; Joh 17:1.

(NT) The pierced hands of Christ on the cross.

Psa 63:5

MY SOUL WILL BE SATISFIED AS WITH THE RICHEST OF FOODS: "As with marrow and fatness" (AV). Ref peace-offerings (Lev 3:9,10). David's confidence that all would yet work out right. Meanwhile there was the lavish help of faithful Barzillai (2Sa 17:27-29; Psa 23:5). God is able to provide a spiritual "banquet" even in a dry and desolate land (v 1 here).

(NT) Even when on the cross Jesus knew that one day he would be King of the Jews, and preside at a glorious banquet for his beloved (Isa 25:6-9). But also how many times during his ministry was Joh 4:32 (cp also vv 13,14 there) realized: his "meat and drink" being to do the will of his Father?

Psa 63:6

ON MY BED I REMEMBER YOU: An uncomfortable bed, too, in the course of this hasty flight. (The word in this case is plural -- lit, "beds" -- because at this time David scarcely spent two nights in the same place!)

I THINK OF YOU THROUGH THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT: The marvelous sight of the night sky, with the slow inexorable progress of the stars, would emphasize the slow but sure purposes of God. The word for "meditate" implies talk, either in prayer, or in the comfort of conversation with those on guard during the night watches. Guards would be necessary because of the risk of prompt pursuit, as Ahithophel had advocated (2Sa 17:1-3).

(NT) Was there any counterpart to this in the experience of Jesus? Luk 9:58?

THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT: The Hebrews divided the night into three "watches": generally speaking, the first, or beginning, watch (Lam 2:19) was from sunset to approx 10 pm; the second, or middle, watch (Jdg 7:19) from 10 pm to 2 am; and the third, or morning, watch (Exo 14:24; 1Sa 11:11) from 2 am to sunrise. See also Psa 119:148. (The later, Roman, method consisted of four watches: Mat 14:25; 24:43; Mar 6:48; 13:35; Luk 12:38.)

Psa 63:7

THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS: Another allusion to the ark and the cherubim of glory: 2Sa 15:25. Psa 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:1. Cp also Deu 32:10,11; Rth 2:12; and Mat 23:37.

(NT) He was strengthened and encouraged by a Passover angel (Luk 22:43).

Psa 63:8

MY SOUL CLINGS TO YOU: While his enemy would follow hard after him (v 9a). "Clings" is sw "cleaves" in Gen 2:24; Deu 10:20; Rth 1:14.

YOUR RIGHT HAND UPHOLDS ME: While the hostile right hand would wield a sword against him (v 10).

(NT) Peter's experience, as he attempted to "follow" Jesus by walking to him on the water: as he was sinking "Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him" (Mat 14:31). The very same phrase ("his right hand doth embrace me") is used by the Bride in the Song 2:6; 8:3 to describe her Beloved. At first sight, there might seem to be little of common ground in these two allusions; yet both describe the tender loving care that Christ shows toward those who have entered into the bonds of covenant with him.

RIGHT HAND: Strength (Exo 15:6; Psa 20:6; 63:8; 118:15,16); righteousness (Psa 48:10); authority (Isa 62:8); honor (Gen 48:13-18; 1Ki 2:19); salvation (Psa 17:7; 60:5); and fellowship (Psa 16:11).

Psa 63:9

Re David's experiences: 2Sa 16:11; 17:1-3; cp Psa 55:15; Num 16:31-34.

"Souls" die, are destroyed, and are consigned to the grave: Jos 10:28,30,32,35,37,39; Jdg 16:16; Job 7:15; 33:18; Psa 16:10; 33:19; 35:17; 49:15; 78:50; 89:48; Eze 18:4,27; etc.

Psa 63:10

THEY WILL BE GIVEN OVER TO THE SWORD: "They shall fall by the sword" (AV) is, lit (see AV mg), "they shall run out like water" -- ie their life-blood will gush out from their sword wounds. Cp 2Sa 14:14.

FOOD FOR JACKALS: "A portion for foxes" (AV), or "jackals" (RSV) -- tearing and ravaging the corpses on the battlefield. "These sinister, guilty, woe-begone brutes, when pressed with hunger, gather in gangs among the graves, and yell in rage, and fight like fiends over their midnight orgies; but on the battlefield is their great carnival. Oh! let me never even dream that any one dear to me has fallen by the sword, and lies there to be torn, and gnawed at, and dragged about by these hideous howlers" (LB 94).

(NT) "A portion for jackals": Lit true in AD 70 (cp Lam 5:18).

Psa 63:11

"Every one that sweareth by him" (the king?) (AV). If so, this is exemplified by the faithful Ittai in 2Sa 15:21.

THE MOUTHS OF LIARS: The mouth of them that speak lies (ie against David) shall be stopped. Ref Absalom and Shimei (2Sa 15:3; 16:7,8). The stopping of the mouths of liars, as a pattern of the time of the end, when only truth may be spoken, is picked up by Paul in Rom 3:19; Tit 1:10,11.


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