New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

Psa 63:1

A Psalm by David, when he was in the desert of Judah-
This surely refers to David's experience at the hands of Saul, and yet it was appropriated by him to the situation he endured in exile from Absalom.

God, You are my God; I will earnestly seek You-
David was fleeing from Saul, but he perceives this as a fleeing towards God, a seeking for Him. We too mush see the push factors of life as in fact pull factors towards God.

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water-
This longing for God was in terms of longing to be able to worship Him again in the sanctuary, from which he was exiled during the persecution from Saul (:2). And yet he was to come to realize that there in the desert he was as much in God's presence, even beneath the cherubim wings of the ark, as he was in the sanctuary.

Psa 63:2

So I have seen You in the sanctuary, watching Your power and Your glory-
As David had watched the glory of God and sensed His power over the ark in the sanctuary, "so" He sees God's presence in the desert.

Psa 63:3

Because Your grace is better than life, my lips shall praise You-
The idea is that ‘more than my own life do I value God’s love / grace, His hesed , covenant love, for me’. Even if he were to die, having known God's grace was enough, and David would ever praise God for that.

Psa 63:4

So I will bless You while I live, I will lift up my hands in Your name-
As explained on :3, David feels that the wonder of praising God at this moment was enough for him, whether or not he was to die at the time.

Psa 63:5

My soul shall be satisfied as with the richest food-
The same word used of how Israel in the desert were "satisfied" with the food of God's provision (Ex. 16:8,12). David clearly saw them at that time as a precedent for himself whilst in the desert (:1). Being "satisfied" with food was the continual promise for obedience to the covenant (Dt. 8:10,12; 11:15; 31:20). But he speaks in the future, "shall be satisfied", perhaps ultimately with his eye upon the Kingdom of God coming upon earth; although clearly he expected some form of this in his own immediate experience in this life.

My mouth shall praise You with joyful lips-
David's joy was not in the experience of deliverance, but in his perception of God's grace (:3).

Psa 63:6

when I remember You on my bed, and think about You in the night watches-
This "bed" would have been somewhere in the desert whilst on the run from Saul (:1). David speaks of how he "meditates day and night" on God's law (Ps. 1:2), and also of how he meditates upon "God" at night (Ps. 63:6) and in the day (Ps. 71:24). "The word was God", and still is, in the sense that our devotions to God are to be according to His word; for in practice, what we see of God is largely through His hand and statements in history which we find in His word.

Psa 63:7

For You have been my help-
In the Hezekiah context, this would have applied to how Ahaz had given money to the king of Assyria, but "he helped him not" (2 Chron. 28:21 s.w.). God was thereby revealed as the sole "hope of Israel".

I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings-
This could mean that David was full of faith that he would return to the sanctuary; or that he felt that even in exile from the sanctuary, he was as it were right there beneath the cherubic wings over the ark, with God's glory above him and the blood of atonement beneath him. This was an encouragement to the exiles.

Psa 63:8

My soul stays close to You, Your right hand upholds me-
David responded to their seeking of him by seeking God more. He uses the language of the hunt and chase to describe how he was drawing closer to God: "My soul followeth hard after thee" (Ps. 63:8; Ps. 63 is a wilderness psalm, see title). "Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul... let all those that seek thee rejoice" (Ps. 40:14,16). In this sense, David felt he wasn't fleeing from  his enemies as much as fleeing to  God : "Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies (from whom he was running): I flee unto thee to hide me" (Ps. 143:9). This fleeing to  God didn't mean that David and Jesus didn't respond or retaliate verbally; both of them, especially the Lord Jesus, did. They both pleaded their innocence, and accused their enemies of being unfair and hypocritical. Yet this must have been done from a genuine motive of love; as David loved Saul, as the thought of Saul's death must have torn at his heart, so the Lord Jesus loved Israel, weeping over Jerusalem, wishing to himself like a child for the impossible: that they would know him as their Saviour. Both David and Jesus had a real sense of direction, they could see that their mental, emotional and physical sufferings were leading them towards an altogether higher relationship with the Father. They took those sufferings as an almost welcome push towards the Father. They had a sure sense of spiritual direction in all their afflictions; this accounts for the human loneliness which they both felt. David felt that no one else understood (Ps. 14:2, a wilderness psalm) or was really seeking towards God as he was doing (Ps. 27:4,8). The Hebrew for "understand" here is that translated "wise" concerning David in 1 Sam. 18.   

Psa 63:9

But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go into the lower parts of the earth-
Saul sought  to take David's life. So many of the Psalms contain imprecations against those who were seeking David's soul- not just his physical life, but seeking to destroy his very being (e.g. Ps. 35:4; 40:14; 54:1; 63:9; 70:2; 71:13). These imprecations expose the evil of Saul, and asks God to condemn him. Some of those Psalms appear to have been written by David in the Saul days, and then rewritten at the time of Absalom's rebellion- another man who sought David's soul, and yet whom David loved. 

David's characteristic of self-examination cannot be unrelated to the fact that while on the run from Saul, he keenly meditated on the word of God (largely in the Law); Ps. 119 has many connections between his love of the word and the outlaw experiences. Perhaps David thought so much of the Law that he came close to the spirit of Moses in the desert; for "those that seek after my soul... shall go into the lower parts of the earth" is clearly alluding to the fate of Moses' enemies, Korah et al .

"The lower parts of the earth" may well be a reference to some supposed place of punishment after death. But we know from Ps. 49 and so often in the Psalms, that David believed death was unconsciousness. He may therefore have been alluding to a common curse formula, probably used by Saul against David, and wishing it to come back upon Saul.

Psa 63:10

They shall be given over to the power of the sword. They shall be jackal food-
When this happened to Saul and he was slain by his own sword, David wept deeply and genuinely. But what had happened was the fulfilment of his own prayer. Perhaps the desperate attempt to rescue Saul's body from the walls of Bethshan was an attempt to stop the latter part of the verse coming true. David surely learned the lesson we all have to- that we must be careful what we ask for in prayer lest we receive it.

Psa 63:11

But the king shall rejoice in God-
This is tacit reflection of David's faith in Samuel's prophetic word that David was indeed to be king. Perhaps David speaks of himself in the third person because he is not yet the king.


Everyone who swears by Him will praise Him, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped-
The whole reason for the Law of Moses was “so that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). Paul is quoting here from Ps. 63:11: “the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped”. He’s reasoning that because we’re all sinners, we’re all liars- for untruth is the essence of sin. We are not being true to ourselves, to God, to His word, to our brethren… we profess covenant relationship with God, to be His people, and yet we fail to keep the terms of that covenant. And the Law of Moses convicted all God’s people of this, and in this way led them to the need for Christ. Yet Is. 52:15 prophesied that the crucified Jesus would result in men shutting their mouths. The righteousness and perfection displayed there in one Man, the very human Lord Jesus, has the same effect upon us as the Law of Moses- we shut our mouths, convicted of sin.

"Speak lies" reflects again David's deep sense of injustice (see on Ps. 35:7). He uses the word for "false witness", as if they were breaking one of the ten commandments; and he uses it often, heaping condemnation upon any who dare lie / bear false witness about him (Ps. 38:19; 52:3; 63:11; 101:7; 119:29,69,86,118; 120:2; 144:8,11). And yet David lied and deceived in order to get Uriah killed so that he could take his wife for himself. Surely reflection upon that sin made him realize that his zeal to condemn dishonesty was at best misplaced; to lament it is one thing, but David was to be taught that he had himself done the very thing he so condemned.