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David's thirst for God: his manner of blessing God: his confidence of his enemies' destruction, and his own safety.
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
Title. לדוד מזמור mizmor ledavid.— The beginning of this psalm evidently shews, that David was, when he wrote it, in a wilderness or desart country, (1Sa 22:5 probably the forest of Hareth, or Ziph, belonging to Judah,) absent from the sanctuary: for he therein expresses the impatience of his desires to be restored to the solemnity of divine worship, and resolves, that, when God grants him that satisfaction, he will continually employ himself in celebrating his lovingkindness; Psalms 63:3-4. This, he tells us, would be to him a more grateful entertainment than the richest feast, Psalms 63:5.—should employ his waking hours in the watches of the night, Psa 63:6 and confirm his pleasing trust and confidence in the divine protection, Psalms 63:7.—And from his adherence to God, and past experience of his favour, he assures himself of the disappointment and destruction of his enemies; but that himself, and all who feared God, should rejoice in his salvation, Psalms 63:8-11. Chandler.
Psalms 63:1. Early will I seek thee— To seek God, is to address him by supplication and thanksgiving: and as our safety by night should be acknowledged by the sacrifice of praise, so should our protection through the day be humbly sought after by serious prayer every morning. My soul thirsteth for thee, continues the Psalmist; i.e. eagerly desires to approach thee: Thirsting, in all languages, is frequently used for earnestly longing after, or passionately wishing for anything. He goes on, my flesh longeth for thee. The verb כמה kamah, tendered longeth, is used only in this place; and therefore the signification of it is rather uncertain, but will receive light from the Arabic dialect. In Golius's Lexicon it signifies, His eye grew dim—his colour was changed, and his mind weakened; and, therefore, as used by the Psalmist, implies the utmost intenseness and fervency of desire; as though it impaired his sight, and altered the very hue of his body; effects oftentimes of eager and unsatisfied desires. Houbigant and some other critics are for altering the Hebrew in the next clause, and reading, not in a dry land, but as a dry land; which is figuratively said to thirst for water, when it wants rain. But David describes his own eager desire to approach God's sanctuary, by the figurative expression of thirsting himself, and not by barren land's thirsting for or desiring water; and the reading of the text is genuine, as he represents his present situation, which was in a dry and thirsty wilderness. The whole clause, however, should be thus rendered, My flesh pines away for thee in a dry land, and where I am faint without water. He experienced the vehemency of thirst in a wilderness, where he could get no supply of water, and by that sensation expresses the vehemence and impatience of his own mind to be restored to the worship of God.
Psalms 63:2. To see thy power, &c.— The meaning, says Jarchi, here is, "I have thirsted to see thy power and thy glory, as I have seen thee in the holy tabernacle in Shilo; where my soul was satisfied with the vision of thy power and glory." The Psalmist refers here to the cloud and glory, which he had seen in the tabernacle and above the ark, and which were the peculiar emblems of the divine majesty.
Psalms 63:4. I will lift up my hands in thy name— i.e. "I will, in the most solemn manner, pay my adorations to thee, and render thee most grateful acknowledgments for thy benefits, as the only living and true God."
Psalms 63:8. My soul followeth hard after thee— My soul hath kept close,—hath adhered to thee. The Psalmist means that his soul adhered to God with the warmest affection, and longed to offer up his sacrifices of praise in his sanctuary.
Psalms 63:9. But those that seek my soul, &c.— Our version connects both parts of the verse. I rather think there are two distinct parts in it, as there are in all the other verses; and that the rendering should be, They shall be for destruction, who seek my life: they shall go into the lowest parts of the earth; i.e. That they themselves should be destroyed and brought down to the grave, who sought his destruction. Chandler.
Psalms 63:10. They shall fall, &c.— Their blood shall gush out by the edge of the sword. The verb properly signifies the boiling of water in a pot; when, through the violence of the heat, it is thrown out of it: and, from hence, it figuratively denotes the bursting or boiling out of the blood from the wound of a sword, or any other deadly instrument. Virgil, in a very lively manner, has expressed it by another almost similar word:
Tum caput ipsi aufert domino, truncumque reliquit Sanguine singultantem. AEn. 9. ver. 332.
The gasping head flies off; a purple flood Flows from the trunk that welters in the blood. DRYDEN.
One almost sees the blood sobbing, as it were, and gushing out from the headless body. The expression, as used by the Psalmist, denotes that they should die a violent death, and their blood should be spilled by the edge of the sword; and the next expression, They shall be a portion for foxes, signifies, "They shall be left unburied, and as a prey to ravenous beasts." Bochart has shewn that foxes preyed upon dead bodies. See his Hieroz. pars 1: cap. 13 and Chandler.
Psalms 63:11. But the king shall rejoice— David was king by designation, and anointed when he was in the wilderness of Judah; but had not then taken the title, and was not advanced to the throne. Hence M. Le Clerc and others think that this psalm could not be written by him when he sojourned in the wilderness. But I apprehend that this objection is but of little force; for all that he affirms is, that when his enemies shall be destroyed, then the king shall rejoice in God; speaking of himself undoubtedly, though not of what he now was, but should then be when God had delivered him from those who sought his life. Every one that swears by him shall glory; i.e. Who invokes his name, worships him, and makes him the object of religious reverence and fear; all which is implied in swearing, as an oath is an immediate appeal and solemn act of worship to God. Mudge renders the latter part of the verse thus: Every one that sweareth by him shall glory; whereas the mouth of them who pronounce a lie shall be stopped: for he observes judiciously, that the two clauses of the verse seem to be opposed to each other: they that swore by the God of Israel, to those who pronounced a lie, or named the false gods. The former should find occasion for glorifying, whereas the mouth of the other should be stopped.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Wherever David was, he found his heart in tune for praise; a wilderness shall echo with his songs, since thither divine Providence hath led him: the children of God should learn of him, even though sorrowful, to be always rejoicing, and, when most desolate and solitary, to make melody still in their hearts unto God.
1. The ground of all his comfort was this, O God, thou art my God: a sense of an interest in his love and favour, can make a prison a palace, a wilderness a paradise.
2. He resolves to cleave to God, and longs for his return to the sanctuary, from which at present he suffered an irksome banishment. Early will I seek thee; here, though destitute of public ordinances, in private prayer and secret meditation he would exercise himself, beginning with the dawn of day; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, with eager and importunate desire, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: no waters of the sanctuary to refresh and comfort his soul; therefore he pants for the courts of God's tabernacle, To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary; to enjoy some sweet manifestations of divine favour where he was, as he had formerly been favoured with when engaged in the worship of the sanctuary, and thither he wishes to return. Note; (1.) This world is a barren land, nothing in it can satisfy the longings of the soul. God alone is the believer's all-sufficient portion. (2.) The more we are convinced of the emptiness of the creature, the more we should fly to the fulness of God. (3.) They who know the blessings of public ordinances, will feelingly regret the want of them. (4.) Wherever we are, a throne of grace is open; and, if we diligently seek the Lord, we may find the same comfortable presence of God under a tree or in a mountain, as in the midst of the congregation.
2nd, His desires are answered, and prayers soon exchanged for joyful praises.
1. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life: my lips shall praise thee; though life is a blessing, yet without God's love, in the midst of life we are in death; we may then only be truly said to live, when, quickened by his Spirit, our souls live by him and for him: in this case even death becomes our privilege, and removal from earth is our translation to the life of eternity.
2. He is determined to continue his praise as long as his being: thus, as he had begun, he purposes to persevere, and lift up his hands incessantly below in thanksgiving, till he should join above the everlasting songs of saints and angels. Note; They who expect to spend eternity in God's praise, will begin the pleasing service here, and learn in every state, condition, and circumstance, to give thanks.
3. He promises himself great delight in his service; this work of praise shall be his present reward. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; the most delicious viands to the taste would not be so grateful, as to his soul this happy communion with God, while his mouth praised him with joyful lips. Note; There is a complacence and inward satisfaction to be enjoyed in God's love and service, compared with which the highest gratifications of sense are poor and insipid.
4. By night as well as day, on this pleasing subject his thoughts continually dwelt. When I remember thee upon my bed; lying down to rest, and waking up in the morning, God was last and first in his thoughts; and meditate on thee in the night-watches; when his eyes were kept waking that he could not sleep, he employed the hours of darkness in contemplation, which more than recompensed the lost repose.
3rdly, Resolved to praise, he wanted not abundant matter for his song.
His experience of past support, and confidence of present help, afforded cause of rejoicing. Thou hast been my help, and art willing to save me to the uttermost, therefore under the shadow of thy wings, where, as the chickens shelter themselves from danger, and are refreshed with the vital warmth, my soul is comfortably lodged, will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee, in prayer, meditation, and every means of grace within his power: thy right hand upholdeth me, by which alone I am supported and strengthened, to run and not be weary, and to walk and not be faint. Note; (1.) They who would cleave to God faithfully, are called upon to follow hard after him in the means of grace and the path of duty. (2.) Our strength for the one or other is not in ourselves but from him, without which our feet would quickly stumble, our hearts grow dead, and our lips be sealed up in silence, and forget to pray or praise.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 63". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13