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Psalm 63

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Thirsting Soul Satisfied in God
MT Intro
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah
Joyful in the Fellowship of God Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies Longing For God Yearning For God
63:1-5 63:1-2 63:1-4 63:1-5 63:1-2
  63:3-5     63:3-5
    63:5-8    
63:6-8 63:6-8   63:6-8 63:6-8
63:9-11 63:9-11 63:9-11 63:9-11 63:9-11

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Surprisingly this Psalm has no imperatives, jussives, or cohortatives.

 

B. This Psalm does not admonish others but describes a personal search for a deep, personal relationship with God (cf. Ps. 42:1-4).

 

C. Like so many Psalms there is an aspect of tension with enemies (cf. Ps. 63:9-11). Because of verse 11, this reflects the thoughts of the King, so they may be

1. foreigners

2. faithless Israelites

 

D. Verse 11a does not automatically make this a royal Psalm; see note at 63:9-11 for options.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 63:1-5
 1O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
 My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
 In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
 2Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
 To see Your power and Your glory.
 3Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
 My lips will praise You.
 4So I will bless You as long as I live;
 I will lift up my hands in Your name.
 5My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
 And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

63:1-5 In this strophe the psalmist describes how he feels about God (Ps. 63:1, Elohim and El, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1).

1. he seeks Him earnestly (lit. "look early" ) — BDB 1007, KB 1465, Piel imperfect (cf. Ps. 78:34; Pro. 7:15; 8:17; 13:24; Isa. 26:9; Hos. 5:15); the same root is the noun form for "dawn" (cf. Ps. 57:8)

2. his soul (lit. nephesh, BDB 659) thirsts for God — BDB 854, KB 1032, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 42:2; 84:2; Matt. 5:6

3. his flesh (BDB 142) yearns (lit. "faints") for God — BDB 484, KB 480, Qal perfect; only here in the OT; from Arabic root "to be pale of face"

4. he describes his thirsting and fainting as caused by being in a dry and weary land where there is no water (cf. Ps. 143:6); God is often described as the source of "living water" (cf. Isa. 12:3; 44:3; 55:1; Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10; 7:37-38; Rev. 21:6; 22:17)

This intense search for God in a dry land is caused because of the refreshing joy he knew earlier in the worship in the temple (Ps. 63:2).

1. beheld God in the sanctuary (lit. "in holiness," cf. Ps. 60:6; 89:35; 102:19) — BDB 302, KB 301, Qal perfect; this word can mean sanctuary but does not necessarily mean that; I do not think this line of the poem mandates a person in exile; AB (p. 97) even suggests "heavenly sanctuary" in Ps. 63:5 and "eternal life" in Ps. 63:4

2. see His power — BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal infinitive construct, cf. Ps. 59:17; 62:11

3. see His glory — BDB verb above assumed (a double object)

Exactly how the power and glory were manifested is not stated but since the word "glory" is used of the Shekinah glory (i.e., cloud) during the wilderness wanderings (cf. Exod. 16:7,10; 24:16,17; 40:34,35; Lev. 9:6,23; Num. 14:10; 16:19; 17:7,10; 20:6), possibly something like 1 Kgs. 8:11 occurred again (the other option is a vision of God Himself, like Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel 1; 10).

63:3-5 These verses describe how the psalmist praises God because of His lovingkindness (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) is better than life.

1. his lips will praise God — BDB 986 II, KB 1387, Piel imperfect

2. he will bless God as long as he lives — BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect

3. he will lift up his hands — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect

4. his soul is satisfied — BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 36:8

5. his mouth offers praises with joyful lips — BDB 237 II, KB 248, Piel imperfect

 

63:4 "lift up hands" See note at Ps. 28:2.

▣ "in Your name" See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH at Ps. 5:11-12.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 63:6-8
 6When I remember You on my bed,
 I meditate on You in the night watches,
 7For You have been my help,
 And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
 8My soul clings to You;
 Your right hand upholds me.

63:6-8 This strophe continues the psalmist's reflection of God's goodness and care.

1. he remembers God as he sleeps — BDB 269, KB 269, Qal perfect, cf. Deut. 6:6-9; Ps. 119:15, 48,97,99;

2. he meditates on God at night — BDB 211 I, KB 237, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 4:4

3. God has been his help (BDB 740 I) — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 27:9

4. he is protected (in the shadow of God's wings) and sings for joy — BDB 943, KB 1247; Piel imperfect

5. he (lit. nephesh) clings to God — BDB 179, KB 209, Qal perfect, cf. Gen. 2:24; Ruth 1:14;

2 Kgs. 18:6

6. God's right hand exploits him — BDB 1069, KB 1751, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 18:35; 41:12

Notice how #5 and #6 reflect both sides of the covenant relationship. It invokes choices and actions by both God and human. 

63:7 "in the shadow of Your wings" See note at Ps. 17:8 and Special Topic at Ps. 5:11-12.

63:8 "right hand" See note at Ps. 18:35 and SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Ps. 7:3-4.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 63:9-11
 9But those who seek my life to destroy it,
 Will go into the depths of the earth.
 10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
 They will be a prey for foxes.
 11But the king will rejoice in God;
 Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
 For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

63:9-11 As happens often in the Psalms, a strophe is addressed to the psalmist's enemies. In this one "the king" is specifically mentioned. This could mean

1. the king is the psalmist

2. the psalmist is addressing problems the king faced and expresses how he knows the king would feel (cf. Ps. 63:11a)

3. it is a literary technique to link individual Psalms to corporate Psalms (cf. Ps. 63:11b)

These are statements about the enemies (i.e., those who seek his life to destroy it and, thereby Israel).

1. they will go into the depths of the earth (i.e., the Pit, Sheol, the grave, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6).

In the OT all humans go to Sheol, as all humans go to Hades in the NT to wait judgment day. It is possible that "the lowest part" represented the abode of the faithless follower and pagan.

2. they will be poured out to the power of the sword — BDB 620, KB 669, Hiphil imperfect

3. they will be prey for foxes (i.e., no proper burial)

4. the mouth of those who speak lies will be stopped — BDB 698, KB 55, Niphal imperfect

Because of this

1. the king will rejoice in God — BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect

2. everyone who swears by Him (BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal participle) will glory — BDB 237, KB 248, Hithpael imperfect, cf. Isa. 48:1; 65:16

Right and truth and faith will prevail in the end because of the character and purposes of our God!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How is this Psalm similar to Psalm 42?

2. Was the psalmist in exile? Why or why not?

3. To what does verse 2b refer?

4. Where do you think verses 3-5 occur?

5. Who are the enemies of verses 9-10?

6. Is this a royal Psalm? Why or why not?