The title of this psalm is To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
The Chief Musician is thought by some to be the Lord GOD Himself, and others suppose him to be a leader of choirs or musicians in David’s time, such as Heman the singer or Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:33, 16:5-7, and 25:6).
Jeduthun (mentioned also in the titles of Psalm 39 and Psalm 77) was one of the musicians appointed by David to lead Israel’s public worship (1 Chronicles 16:41; 25:1-3). Charles Spurgeon wrote regarding Jeduthun: “The sons of Jeduthun were porters or doorkeepers, according to 1 Chronicles 16:42. Those who serve well make the best of singers, and those who occupy the highest posts in the choir must not be ashamed to wait at the posts of the doors of the Lord’s house.”
A. Waiting upon God, who is my rock and defense.
1. (1-2) David’s soul silently waits for God.
Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.
a. Truly my soul silently waits for God: The emphasis in this line is of surrendered silence before God and God alone. The word truly is often translated alone or only and seems to have that sense here.
i. “It is hard to see this in the English text, because the Hebrew is almost untranslatable, but in the Hebrew text the word only or alone occurs five times in the first eight verses (in verses 1, 2, 4, 5, 6), and once in verse 9.” (Boice) Kidner said of this Hebrew word ak, “It is an emphasizer, to underline a statement or to point to a contrast; its insistent repetition gives the psalm a tone of special earnestness.”
ii. “The words have all been said – or perhaps no words will come – and the issue rests with Him alone.” (Kidner)
iii. “The natural mind is ever prone to reason, when we ought to believe; to be at work, when we ought to be quiet; to go our own way, when we ought steadily to walk on in God’s ways.” (Müller, cited in Spurgeon)
iv. “This is why God keeps you waiting. All that is of self and nature must be silence; one voice after another cease to boast; one light after another be put out; until the soul is shut up to God alone.” (Meyer)
b. From Him comes my salvation: In many psalms David began by telling his great need or describing his present crisis. Here, David began by declaring his great confidence in and trust upon God.
i. Psalm 62 seems to come from a time of trouble, yet it asks God for nothing. It is full of faith and trust, but has no fear, no despair, and no petition.
ii. “There is in it throughout not one single word (and this is a rare occurrence), in which the prophet expresses fear or dejection; and there is also no prayer in it, although, on other occasions, when in danger, he never omits to pray.” (Amyraut, cited in Spurgeon)
c. He only is my rock and my salvation: David trusted in God alone for his strength and stability. The description is of a man completely focused upon God for His help, firmly resolved to look nowhere else.
i. “Because God only is our Rock, let us ever be silent only for God.” (Morgan)
ii. He is my defense: Or, fortress. “The tried believer not only abides in God as in a cavernous rock; but dwells in him as Warrior in some bravely defiant tower or lordly castle.” (Spurgeon)
2. (3-4) David complains to his enemies and of his enemies.
How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.
They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah
a. How long will you attack a man: David’s faith was in God alone, but he had words for his enemies. He rebuked them for their crazy persistence in attacking him, and warned them of judgment to come (you shall be slain).
b. Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence: David’s image is clear enough, but there is disagreement among translators and commentators as to whom this applies. The New King James Version presents the opponents of David as the leaning wall and a tottering fence. Others think that David himself was the leaning wall, in his weakness unfairly set upon by his enemies.
i. Spurgeon gave the sense of the first: “Boastful persecutors bulge and swell with pride, but they are only as a bulging wall ready to fall in a heap; they lean forward to seize their prey, but it is only as a tottering fence inclines to the earth upon which it will soon lie at length.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The English Standard Version gives the second sense: How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence.
c. They only consult to cast him down: David described his enemies as those who only think through a matter if it involves bringing down a man of God. They were liars, especially in the sense of being two-faced (they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly).
3. (5-7) David’s calm confidence in God alone.
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
a. My soul, wait silently for God alone: In the opening lines of the psalm, David said that this was the state of his soul. Here he spoke to his soul, telling it to remain in that place of trust in and surrender to God. David’s complete expectation was upon God.
i. “David now urges on himself the silence which he simply stated in verse 1.” (Kidner)
ii. For God alone: “They trust not God at all who trust him not alone. He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot upon a quicksand, will sink and perish, as certainly as he that standeth with both feet upon a quicksand. David knew this, and therefore calleth earnestly upon his soul (for his business lay most within doors) to trust only upon God.” (Trapp)
b. He only is my rock and my salvation: David assured himself by repeating the lines from Psalm 62:2. It was true for David and he wanted it to remain true.
i. He is my defense: “Not my defender only, but my actual protection.” (Spurgeon)
c. I shall not be moved: David repeated the idea from Psalm 62:2, but with this small variation. In verse 2 he wrote, I shall not be greatly moved. In this verse he seems to come to an even stronger position: I shall not be moved.
i. “There may be deep meaning in the slight omission of ‘greatly’ in the second refrain. Confidence has grown.” (Maclaren)
d. My refuge is in God: The emphasis again reflects David’s decision to trust in nothing or no one else. God alone is his salvation, his glory, his rock, his strength, and his refuge. We sense David was tempted to trust many different things, but he refused and kept his expectation in God alone.
i. “Observe how the Psalmist brands his own initials upon every name which he rejoicingly gives to his God – my expectation, my rock, my salvation, my glory, my strength, my refuge; he is not content to know that the Lord is all these things; he acts in faith towards him, and lays claim to him under every character.” (Spurgeon)
B. David teaches others and teaches himself.
1. (8) Teaching the people to trust in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
a. Trust in Him at all times, you people: David felt what was good for him was good for others, also. As a leader of God’s people he spoke wisdom to them, reminding them that God was worthy at all times of their trust in Him.
i. “The comforts which David had found, he exhorteth others to seek, in faith and prayer.” (Spurgeon)
b. Pour out your heart before Him: God’s strength and stability made David rightly think of Him as a rock. Yet God was not insensitive or unfeeling like a rock. God invites His people to pour out their heart – their sorrows, their joys, their trust, and their doubt, all of it – before Him.
i. “Pour it out as water. Not as milk, whose colour remains. Not as wine, whose savour remains. Not as honey, whose taste remains. But as water, of which, when it is poured out, nothing remains.” (Le Blanc, cited in Spurgeon)
c. God is a refuge for us: He welcomes the poured-out heart as the cities of refuge welcomed the hunted man in ancient Israel.
2. (9-10) Teaching the people what not to trust in.
Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.
a. Surely men of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are a lie: This psalm speaks much of trusting in God alone. Now David explained why it was important to not set trust in man. David understood that whether they are men of low degree or high degree, they are altogether lighter than vapor. There is no substance there worthy of trust.
i. “Common men can give no help. They are vanity, and it is folly to trust in them; for although they may be willing, yet they have no ability to help you: ‘Rich men are a lie.’ They promise much, but perform nothing; they cause you to hope, but mock your expectation.” (Clarke)
ii. However, it is possible that David did not intend the reader to understand a distinction between men of low degree and men of high degree; it may simply be an expression of Hebrew poetic repetition and parallelism. “The distinction of ‘lowborn men’ and ‘the highborn’ is based on the different words for ‘man’ in the MT [Masoretic Text]: adam and ish (Psalm 62:9; cf. 49:2). But it is equally possible to treat both [parts] of Psalm 62:9 as a general reference to mankind: ‘mankind is but a breath; mankind is but a lie.’” (VanGemeren)
iii. “The point, then, is not so much that we have nothing to fear from man (as in Psalm 27:1ff.), as that we have nothing to hope from him.” (Kidner)
b. Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery: David had seen men advance through cruel or dishonest ways. He warned the people against this, understanding that the results never justify the evil used to get the results.
c. If riches increase, do not set your heart on them: As a king, David ended up being a very wealthy man, though most of his earlier years were lived in deep poverty. David knew what it was to see riches increase, and he knew the foolishness of setting one’s heart on them. It’s possible to hold great wealth without trusting in those riches, but it isn’t easy.
i. “If they grow in an honest, providential manner, as the result of industry or commercial success, do not make much account of the circumstance; be not unduly elated, do not fix your love upon your money-bags.” (Spurgeon)
ii. There are at least three ways in which one may set the heart on riches.
· To take excessive pleasure in riches, making them the source of joy for life.
· To place one’s hope and security in riches.
· To grow proud and arrogant because of riches.
iii. “Whether rightly or wrongly won, they are wrongly used if they are trusted in.” (Maclaren)
iv. “Riches are themselves transient things; therefore they should have but our transient thoughts.” (Caryl, cited in Spurgeon)
v. “As we must not rest in men, so neither must we repose in money. Gain and fame are only so much foam of the sea.” (Spurgeon)
vi. “1 Timothy 6:17ff. may be alluding to this verse in its own careful treatment of the subject.” (Kidner)
3. (11-12) Teaching himself about God’s power and mercy.
God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work.
a. God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God: This truth was deeply ingrained in David’s soul. Through repetition he understood that power belongs to God and to none other. This is why David was so determined to trust in God and God alone.
i. Since power belongs to God, David refused to look for strength anywhere else. Since power belongs to God, David did not long for power unto himself. Since power belongs to God, David did not become arrogant as a ruler, knowing any power he held was as God’s representative.
b. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy: Gratefully, David understood that God’s nature was much more than power. He also is rich in mercy. Just as men could and should look to God for power, so they should look to Him for mercy.
i. Mercy translates one of the great words of the Old Testament, hesed. It may perhaps be better translated as love, lovingkindness, or loyal love. David knew power belongs to God, but that God is a God of love who is loyal and good to His people.
ii. “The second attribute used to be translated ‘mercy’, but verse 12 makes it particularly clear that this word (hesed) has its basis in what is true and dependable. It is closely linked with covenant-keeping, hence the modern translations, steadfast love or ‘true love.’” (Kidner)
iii. “David says that he has learned two lessons: that God is strong and that God is loving.” (Boice)
iv. This meant that David had no expectation of mercy from man. If it came he was pleased, but he knew that ultimately this great covenant love [mercy] belonged to God.
v. “This tender attribute sweetens the grand thought of his power: the divine strength will not crush us, but will be used for our good; God is so full of mercy that it belongs to him, as if all the mercy in the universe came from God, and still was claimed by him as his possession.” (Spurgeon)
vi. “This is the only truly worthy representation of God. Power without love is brutality, and love without power is weakness. Power is the strong foundation of love, and love is the beauty and the crown of power.” (Perowne, cited in Boice)
vii. “The power of God is more than the strength of the adversaries; the mercy of God is equal to dealing with all the need of the failing soul.” (Morgan)
c. For You render to each one according to his work: We don’t normally think of this as an expression of God’s mercy. In some ways it sounds more like God’s judgment. Yet David had in mind the good man or woman whose goodness is despised by this world. The God of mercy would reward their goodness (even on a relative measure) as the world ignored or rejected it.
i. “Man neither helps us nor rewards us; God will do both.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “To all mankind, therefore, the prophet here recommendeth meditation on these two most interesting subjects; the ‘power’ of God to punish sin, and his ‘mercy’ to pardon it. Fear of the former will beget desire of the later.” (Horne)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org