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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 63

In this psalm we hear the longing of the God-fearing for the sanctuary because it is God’s dwelling place on earth, while yet he is far from it. In the previous psalm, God is his trust, while here God is the great refreshment for his thirsty soul. As in Psalms 61-62, we see in this psalm the longing for close fellowship with God.

Psalms 61-63 were written in the same period. They refer to the same period in the end time and portray the remnant’s exercises of faith when they are driven out of the land. They come to realize that although they are far from Jerusalem, they may yet experience the LORD’s lovingkindness. Thus, they still come to praise.

Verses 1-5

Yearning for God

For “a Psalm of David” (Psa 63:1a) see at Psalm 3:1.

The psalm informs us about the circumstances David is in when he writes the psalm. That is “when he was in the wilderness of Judah”. Since David is speaking of his kingship (Psa 63:11), it is plausible that it is the time, when he is fleeing from Absalom. Then he is in the wilderness (2Sam 15:23), where he is separated from the ark and the dwelling place of God (2Sam 15:25). The trial of David reveals what was in his heart. So too will it be with the remnant in the future. David proves to be hungry and thirsty for righteousness (Mt 5:6), for God himself.

David begins the psalm by telling God Who He is to him (Psa 63:1b). God is his God. This speaks of an intense love for God. His deep love for Him we also hear when he then says that he seeks God “earnestly”. He does so because his soul thirsts for Him and his flesh yearns for Him (cf. Psa 42:1b-2). His soul and his flesh represent his whole person. His severe thirst and intense yearning are a spiritual reflection of the wilderness in which he is. He feels like being in a wilderness, like being in “dry and weary land where there is no water”.

When the Lord Jesus says on the cross “I am thirsty” (Jn 19:28), it is a thirst for God because of the three hours in which He is forsaken by God. When the rich man thirsts in Hades (Lk 16:23-24), it is a thirst because as a creature he is eternally separated from his Creator (cf. Psa 42:1b-2).

He remembers God’s “power” and “glory” which he has “seen … in the sanctuary” (Psa 63:2). He has always entered God’s sanctuary to worship and meet God (2Sam 7:18a), with the result that God has revealed Himself to him in His power and glory.

Those who are in God’s presence become impressed with the power of His love and the glory of His Person. David beheld something of that glory, that is, he had an intense look at it. These are the impressions of God's presence he has made with his heart. He has not forgotten them. Now that he is in the wilderness, he wants to experience them again and even more intensely.

Whoever has been an eyewitness of God’s power and lovingkindness with the eyes of his heart, has as it were “tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1Pet 2:3). As a result, he also knows that God’s lovingkindness – that is, the blessings God wants to give on the basis of the covenant – is better than life (Psa 63:3). Life is the most precious possession one has. But the lovingkindness of God surpasses life. We may lose life, but the lovingkindness of God remains, while the awareness of it increases, especially as life seems to flow away. When that awareness becomes great to one’s heart, one’s lips open to praise God.

Blessing or praising God (Psa 63:4) here precedes salvation (cf. 2Chr 20:21-22). Praising God for His lovingkindness is also not limited to a single moment, but can be done continually as long as we live. We do not wait with it until we are with Him. Whoever loves God and experiences His lovingkindness will never stop praising Him. In God’s Name he will lift up his hands as the outward gesture of lifting up his heart to praise God.

Being thus occupied with God’s lovingkindness satisfies the soul “as with marrow and fatness” (Psa 63:5). Here the God-fearing transcends the wilderness conditions, so to speak, and his mouth praises God “with joyful lips”. He sings about Who God is to him. His body does suffer through his sojourn in the wilderness, but his soul is abundantly satisfied with the best of fellowship with God. God is the best part for the soul (Psa 16:5). This is experienced most when the circumstances are tough.

Verses 6-8

Support From God

From early in the morning [earnestly is literally early] (Psa 63:1b) until late at night, when he is in bed (Psa 63:6), David is dealing with God. When he cannot sleep, in the night watches – in the Old Testament the Jews divided the night watches into three night watches – he meditates on God (cf. Psa 119:148). Then he does not ‘count sheep’ to fall asleep, but meditates on the Shepherd. There is so much about Him to remember. We can also think about Who He is to us and what He has done for us and praise Him for it.

David looks back at God’s faithfulness in the past. He tells God that He “has been” his “help” (Psa 63:7). He trusts that also in the future the LORD will not disappoint him and will deliver him. Therefore, he can always sing for joy. He feels safe and secure under the shadow of God’s wings. There he finds protection from the heat of the sun during the day and there he finds warmth during the cold of the night. There he is close to God, despite the fact that he cannot be in the sanctuary. God Himself is his sanctuary here (cf. Isa 8:13-14). That brings up a song of praise in him; there, in that place so close to God, he can sing for joy.

It fills him with deep desire never to let go of God again (Psa 63:8). His soul clings to God and goes after Him. He expresses his covenant loyalty to God and, as it were, becomes attached to Him (cf. Deu 10:20). To cling to or adhere to someone is to attach oneself to someone in an intimate way. It is like the man’s joining or attaching to his wife (Gen 2:24).

In doing so, he is upheld by God’s right hand, which symbolizes God’s power. He does not have to cling to God in his own strength and follow Him. It means that God holds David’s hand with His right hand and leads him (cf. Isa 41:10; 13).

Verses 9-11

Rejoice in God

After the praise, David suddenly becomes aware, as it were, as a thought in retrospect, oh yes, the enemies are still there, but they are unimportant. If you have seen God, then you become aware of the greatness of God and the pettiness of your enemies.

David knows he has enemies (Psa 63:9). The contrast indicated by the word “but” shows that his enemies have no part in Who God is to him and what he has in God. They are after him to destroy that. They want to take away from him his fellowship with God. In this they will not succeed. On the contrary, they will “go into the depths of the earth”. He is close to God, they will be rejected far from God.

Their fate is that they will be “delivered over to the power of the sword” (Psa 63:10). They have used the sword to bring down others and therefore will themselves be brought down by the sword, i.e. killed (Rev 13:10). After that, they will “be a prey for foxes”. The Hebrew word sualim can be translated as both “foxes” and “jackals”. Jackals are true scavengers, foxes are casual scavengers. That the enemies are prey for these animals means that they are not buried, which is a huge disgrace (cf. Isa 66:24). The disgrace will be even greater when the unholy foxes will feast on their dead bodies (cf. Rev 19:17-18; 21).

In contrast, the king will “rejoice in God” (Psa 63:11). David knows that he will ultimately rejoice in God because God will give back to him the throne from which he was expelled. God is his source of rejoicing. Those who rejoice in God will acknowledge His authority and exaltation above all. He will consecrate himself to Him and serve Him alone. He expresses this by swearing by Him.

He who swears by God involves Him in all his intentions in the acknowledgment of His authority (Deu 6:13; cf. Gen 42:15-16) and “will glory”. To glory means to boast in God, to honor and magnify Him for the help He has given in carrying out the intentions.

Liars also boast, but they speak lies. These are the people who have spread lies about God’s king. Their mouths will be stopped forever. This will be the fate of the antichrist and all his followers who have spread lies about the Christ of God. “Their part [will be] in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev 21:8).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 63". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.