A Consideration of Psalm 62

This psalm is sometimes referred to as “the only psalm.” Of course, it’s not really the “only” psalm; we call it that because the word “only” occurs so often in it.

  • Only my soul finds rest in God;
  • He only is my rock and my salvation;
  • He only in my fortress;
  • Find rest in God only

While facing certain calamity, the psalmist had found out that only God could be trusted and relied upon. During times of uncertainty, only God should be our desire. When we need rest, it can only be found in God. Everything else, and everybody else proves to be untrustworthy in times of our greatest need.

Tradition indicates that psalm 62 was written in the context of one of the greatest heartbreaks of David’s life; the rebellion of his son, Absalom. 2 Samuel 15 gives us an idea of how awful this experience was on David:

But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. (2 Samuel 15:30)

Most of us cannot relate to what David went through; David found out that not only had his son rebelled against him, but his own flesh and blood had plotted to steal the throne from his own father! David also made the unhappy discovery that many of the people he trusted—his friends and court officials—conspired against him along with Absalom. When he needed them the most, his friends and family turned their backs on him. He could trust no one. Maybe that is something you can relate to. Here was a man who had dedicated his life to God. He had asked for and been granted forgiveness, he was loved by God and sought to do God’s work to the very best of his ability. And yet, in spite of David’s enviable relationship with God and amidst the great success God had blessed him with, David’s world collapsed around him. How he dealt with this is the lesson we can take away from Psalm 62.

1. Some background

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

As with the previous psalm we studied, the superscription gives us a few details. First, we know who wrote psalm 62; David. He didn’t write all the psalms, but he did write many of them. David was the first “renaissance man!” At various times in his life, he was a hard working shepherd, he was a mighty warrior, he was a musician, a writer, a poet, a song writer, and he was leader among men, and a king. Most important, however, David was a man of God.

The psalm was written for a man by the name of Jeduthun, who is called the “director of music.” Who was this man? An earlier psalm, 39, was also written to Jeduthun, and his name is mentioned several times throughout the psalms. He is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16, along with his job description:

With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, “for his love endures forever.” Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were stationed at the gate. (1 Chronicles 16:41, 42)

So Juduthan was a musician and “band leader,” whose family held a vital leadership position in the public worship of Israel.

2. A test of faith, verses 1—4

Literally, verse one begins like this:

Only my soul is silent before God…

Often times, the most eloquent prayer offered in God’s presence is the one no man can hear. During this terrible time, David encouraged himself by considering who his God is. What was David’s estimation of his God?

  • Only God can give a person rest;
  • Salvation or deliverance can only come from God;
  • Only God is dependable because He cannot be moved (“rock”);
  • Only God offers shelter and protection

For David and for any child of God, God is literally a “high tower,” a common theme in David’s writing:

You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me. (Psalm 59:9, 10)

There were probably those close to David who urged him to fight against his son; to stand his ground for he was God’s anointed. But, as we know the story, David left town and lived alone and sought refuge in his God, not in his own strength or in the advice of men. It looked for all the world like David was a defeated man—defeated by his own son. But this was no defeat, it was a test of faith.

In contrast to his great faith in God, David had very little faith in man. The very strong tone of verse 3 shines in Moffatt’s translation:

How long will you be threatening a man, you murderers all, as if he were a shaky fence, a tottering wall?

These men, Absalom included, in their opposition to David were really in opposition to God—they were destructive, selfish liars. And there were a lot of them. Yet, in the face of such violent and powerful opposition, a person with faith in God may overcome victoriously. The question “How long” is not a mournful longing for a bad situation to change, but rather it is written in the form of a challenge to those ungodly rebels. The godly man, David, is seen calling out his ungodly foes to cease and desist their evil scheming. Only a person with confidence in God could do that!

Those who oppose God and God’s people work many forms of evil. They speak evil and work evil. The last phrase of verse 4 is striking because it is not mere poetry; David is describing the actions of a real person: Shimei—

With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Shimei was such a man. While David sat on the throne, Shimei was his friend and loyal supporter. But now, with Absalom on the throne and David hiding, Shimei felt free to speak his mind.

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. (2 Samuel 16:5, 6)

One of David’s few remaining friends, Abishai, advised David to kill Shimei. But David understood something Paul would write many centuries later:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

David understood that God was permitting these things to happen to him:

What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” (2 Samuel 16:10)

Most of us don’t think like that. When bad things happen to us, we more often than not feel “put upon,” like we are, for some reason, the objects of Divine wrath. In fact, we would do well to learn what David learned; God permits enemies a place in our lives for the purpose of testing us so that our faith may be strengthened.

2. A time for faith, verses 5—8

Verses 5 parallels verse 1 and verse 6 repeats verse 2. The motif of confidence in the Lord is repeated by the psalmist for emphasis. But David does not repeat his ideas verbatim:

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. (verse 1)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (verse 5)

Instead of salvation (in verse 1), we find hope (in verse 5). The reason David had this hope in salvation is because his faith in God was based in God protects, fights for, and defends those who belong to Him. The time for faith is not when all is sunshine and roses! The time for faith is when all seems lost. The KJV’s rendering of verse 5 points to how we ought to be praying:

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

Is that how you approach God—in expectation? Expecting God to act does not have to mean “presumption.” Nor does it mean you are necessarily taking God for granted. David prayed as we ought to pray: our expectation is from God. In other words, David expected God to direct his prayers in the direction of God’s will, so that David’s expectation would be the same as God’s. David did not hope that things would change the way he wanted them to; his hope was in God; that God would do what was best for David.

The modern believer would do well to adopt the same attitude David had. We are so accustomed to claiming “our rights” in every kind of situation. We arrogantly think we can even claim our rights in regards to how our lives should go. And many times, that’s how our prayers are prayed, as though we were demanding our rights from God. The reality is, our so-called rights descend from God, not the other way around. Instead of shaking our fists at God and demanding things of Him, we should take a lesson from David, and recall what John Calvin wrote:

Never, as if he had said, will he frustrate the patient waiting of his saints; doubtless my silence shall meet with its reward;I shall restrain myself, and not make that false haste which will only retard my deliverance.

No wonder David wrote, “I will not be shaken.” His faith was in God, not in anything or anyone else. That last clause of verse 6 sounds like a repeat of what David wrote in verse 2, but here it is much stronger. David could not be shaken, and he was confident that he would not be “dispossessed” or “overthrown.” He knew the situation involving his son would resolve itself in his favor.

3. A triumph of faith, verses 9—12

David learned that you can’t trust everybody all the time; people tend to be very unreliable, but God alone is unfailing all the time. Verses 9 and 10 indicate that prayer and faith had given David a proper perspective on people and things. We naively look at “highborn” people and envy their status, but David learned that status, while it promises much, “lies,” or delivers very little. David’s thoughts in these two verses don’t translate well into English, but the idea behind them seems to be that people of “high rank” proved to be a disappointment to the psalmist. The same can be said of one’s resources or possessions. In the end, they fail as well.

Man, even the greatest, is always found wanting; the Lord is always faithful and true. Note verses 11 and 12a:

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.

God can be trusted because He has the power to do whatever needs to be done. Granted, the wording of verse 11 is a bit awkward; God said one thing but David heard two things? Taylor’s comments on this are helpful:

A divine revelation given more than once has special weight. The content of this revelation is not two separate things, but one: God’s omnipotence and kindness together work to the end that every man, good or evil, receives his just recompense.

The power to make things right in David’s life resided in God, not in David. David had no power to bring his son in line and repair the damage he caused Israel. But God had that power, and God could use that power justly. Not only is God strong, but He is also loving. Imagine how cold God would be if all He had was power! No, strength and mercy belong to our God. He never acts rashly or harshly. Both the godly and ungodly get what’s coming to them:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works. (2 Timothy 4:14)

Unlike people, who think things and do things that hurt us, either intentionally or unintentionally, God’s power is tempered with His mercy and is exercised in perfect wisdom. How can you not trust a God like that?

At the heart of the Jewish faith was the mercy seat. At the heart of the Christian faith is mercy.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

That is mercy.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

2 Responses to “THE “ONLY” PSALM”

  1. 1 Ren Ish April 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Thank you.

  2. 2 Edgar September 1, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    God bless you. I’ve learnt a lot.

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