Psalm 62 is a psalm of David in which he is experiencing unjust attacks and feels threatened by enemies who seek to topple him. In this psalm, David counsels his soul to trust in God alone. When anxious fears arise, he is conscious to turn to the Lord and not people or riches. Trusting in the Lord alone, and waiting in silence, are key features of the psalm. The Psalm is broken into three stanzas, with two ending with Selah.
Psalm 62 may contain a chiasm, which is a literary device intended to draw the reader’s attention to key statements for emphasis. A basic chiasm takes the form of A-B-C-B-A, which means the first and fifth sections share a parallel thought, as do the second and fourth sections, with the emphasis on the middle section.
A Have confidence in God (Psa 62:1-2)
B Corrupt persons cannot be trusted (Psa 62:3-4)
C God alone saves (Psa 62:5-8)
B Corrupt persons cannot be trusted (Psa 62:9-10)
A Have confidence in God (Psa 62:11-12)
If Psalm 62 contains a chiasm, then verses 5-8 serve as the main point of the Psalm, in which David directs his mind, as well as the minds of others, to the truth that God alone saves.
Superscription – Psalm 62:1a
Psalm 62:1a provides the introduction, “For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David” (Psa 62:1a). The introduction is similar to other Psalms (Psa 39:1; 77:1). According to Earl Radmacher, “Jeduthun in the superscription was the chief of one of the choirs in the temple (1 Chr 9:16) whose descendants founded a temple choir (1 Chr. 16:41-42).” The historical background of the psalm is not known. From the superscription we know it was written by David.
David opens his psalm, saying, “My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation” (Psa 62:1b). Here, David sets the tone for the rest of the psalm, in which he seeks to maintain his focus on the Lord alone as the One who is able to save him from his troubles. Scripturally, believers are virtuous by choice and never by chance. Here, David speaks of his soul’s disposition, that he waits in silence (דּוּמִיָּה dumiyyah), which here denotes quietness, rest, repose, as he waits patiently for the Lord to act (cf., Psa 37:7; Lam 3:25-26). Such waiting on the Lord is a discipline of the godly. Several times throughout this Psalm, David repeats the use of the word only (אַךְ ak), which appears as a restrictive particle to show his complete reliance upon God. David states, “My soul waits in silence for God only” (Psa 62:1), “He only is my rock and my salvation” (Psa 62:2), “My soul, wait in silence for God only” (Psa 62:5), “He only is my rock and my salvation” (Psa 62:6). David once uses the word negatively, saying, “Men of low degree are only vanity” (Psa 62:9), which means they are not to be trusted.
David continues, saying, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Psa 62:2). David’s confidence in God produced stability in the face of adversity, which meant he would not be greatly shaken (מוֹט mot). Here, David’s mental and emotional state is secure, because God is his rock, deliverer, and stronghold. According to Tremper Longman, “While circumstances conspire to upset his life and fill him with anxiety (see vv. 3–4), he relaxes in his relationship with God. He knows that the solution to his troubles comes from God who is his salvation. Through his use of metaphors of protection, he reveals his belief that God will not let those who assault him overwhelm him.”
David briefly turns his focus to his attackers, saying, “How long will you assail a man, that you may murder him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?” (Psa 62:3). The question of how long a trial may last is often upon the lips of psalmists (Psa 13:1-2; 35:17; 74:10; 79:5; 89:46; 94:3). The phrase also indicates David has been dealing with this stressful situation for a while. David speaks of being assailed by another. To be assailed (הוּת huth), according to Allen Ross, “could be from a verb ‘to shout’ (הוּת), meaning to rush against him with shouts, or from a verb ‘to speak continuously’ (הָתַת), meaning to overwhelm with reproaches.” David is amazed at the persistence of his enemies and that they keep coming at him with relentless attacks in an effort to wear him down. David perceives his assailants as wanting to “murder him.” The Hebrew רָצַח ratsach, according to HALOT, means “to kill, murder, strike down, [or] slay.” However, Ross notes, “the verb may have more of its basic meaning of ‘break down’ or ‘throw down,’ especially with the images to follow. It is clear that they were all trying to destroy him.” The phrase “like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence”, could refer to David’s enemies, or David himself. The NET Bible translates it as referring to David’s enemies, saying, “All of you are murderers, as dangerous as a leaning wall or an unstable fence” (Psa 62:3). However, it seems preferrable to understand the phrase as pertaining to David who sees himself as inherently weak, unstable, and ready to fall if pushed hard enough. There is no resource within David to sustain him, and he knows it; therefore, he wisely looks to God for help.
David continues to describe his attackers, saying, “They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position; they delight in falsehood; they bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse. Selah” (Psa 62:4). In the previous verse (62:3), the evil, who like to feel powerful, are drawn to weakness in others in order to destroy them. However, in Psalm 62:4, they are pictured as seeking to thrust down the person who holds a high office. Kidner notes, “Evil, being ruthlessly competitive, is attracted to weakness, to give a last push to whatever is leaning or tottering. It is also attracted to strength, the target of its envy and duplicity.” David recognizes there are evil persons who seek his office, “to thrust him down from his high position” in order to elevate themselves to a place of power. Their tactics are to employ falsehood (כָּזָב kazab), which means their words are deceptive as they twist reality to their advantage. Deception, in its cruelest form, is a method of psychological warfare that seeks to manipulate another person’s perception of reality in order to distract, discourage, and defeat a person by destroying their confidence. Such tactics break a person down and destroy their will to fight. These evil persons are dishonest when face to face with the king, in that “they bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse” (Psa 62:4b). Allen Ross notes, “The idea of the verb ‘curse’ is to ‘treat lightly’ or ‘despise.’ The blessing may have taken the form of public praise, or court flattery, but it was false. They had pretended to honor him, but when they thought it was safe to do so, they threw off the pretense and set about to bring him down.”
David, being aware of his enemies and the tactics they employ, gives wise counsel to his own soul, saying, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him” (Psa 62:5). Here, David engages in a form of self-talk, in which he counsels himself to wait for God alone. In this way, David was his own biblical counselor as he applied God’s Word to his situation in order to produce stability in his soul. The reason for such self-counsel is that he, like all believers, wrestle with maintaining his faith in the Lord, as his thoughts alternate between his hypocritical enemies who traffic in lies and seek to undermine him, and God who is his salvation and strength. Robert Hubbard states, “We admire the confidence and security reflected in this psalm, but we should not imagine they come easily or naturally. In fact, this psalm of trust admits that these qualities do not come without effort.” The phrase “wait in silence” translates the Hebrew verb דָּמַם damam, which means “to be motionless, to stand still…to keep quiet.” The verb is a Qal imperative, which means David is commanding his own soul to “wait in silence for God only.” According to Ross, “The human spirit cannot always remain constant in its confidence. Perhaps the more he reflected on the threat from his deceptive enemies the more he sensed the need to exhort himself to hold fast to his silent confidence in God “alone” (אַךְ). This is the positive way of saying “fret not.” It is a reminder of the object of his faith, and the need to remain calm in that faith.”
When David shifted his focus from God to the problem, it appears his soul became agitated, which required him to refocus back on the Lord, in order that he might be calm again. In principle, the stability of the believer is predicated on the biblical content and continuity of his thinking. Biblical self-talk is a feature of growing believers who, by discipline of mind and will, place their faith in the Lord. Adversity in this world is inevitable, but how we handle it is optional. When adversity arises because of the sinful actions of others, we must not allow our thoughts to run away into fear or frustration (which is the default mechanism of our lower nature). Rather, we must take our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), arresting and isolating those aberrant beliefs that cause unwarranted stress in the soul. It is a benefit to us that we discipline our minds to focus on God and His Word, which bring about cognitive and emotional stability (Isa 26:3; Col 3:1-2). In the growing believer, this takes years to master, but the end result is that our faith will be strengthened, and we will enjoy greater stability in our souls; a stability that honors the Lord, strengthens us, and edifies others.
Keeping his focus on the Lord, David states, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken” (Psa 62:6). Because God is David’s rock, salvation, and stronghold, the result is inner stability. The benefit of having God as his rock and salvation meant David would “not be shaken” ( לֹ֣א אֶמּֽוֹט- lo emmot). The adversity of David’s situation does not overwhelm his soul. David continues, saying, “On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God” (Psa 62:7). David personalizes his trust in God as the One who saves and provides security in the midst of adversity. When David speaks of “my glory” (כָּבוֹד kabod), he’s likely speaking of his reputation and honor as the king of Israel, a position the Lord Himself assigned to David. Having spoken of his personal trust in God, David then encourages his audience to do the same, saying, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psa 62:8). David’s wise counsel to others is to “Trust in Him at all times” (Psa 62:8a). To have trust (בָּטַח batach – Qal imperative) “expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence.” We trust what we believe is beneficial to us. Of course, there is no greater trust one can have than in the Lord Himself, and this trust should be in Him at all times and in all situations.
In contrast to God who is able to save those who trust in Him, David advises his audience not to place ultimate confidence in people or riches. David says, “Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath” (Psa 62:9). David speaks of men of low degree ( בְּנֵי אָדָםbene adam) as being vanity (הֶבֶל hebel), meaning they have no substance of character and are transitory. They are a puff of wind. And men of rank (בְּנֵי אִישׁ bene ish) are a lie (כָּזָב kazab), meaning they are an illusion (CSB) and not what they appear to be. Neither classes of men have the lasting qualities that make for a stable relationship. Though David viewed himself as a weak and tottering wall, he saw his enemies, whether low or high, as nothing at all. Wiersbe notes, “David’s enemies had acquired their power and wealth by oppressing and abusing others, and David warned his own people not to adopt their philosophy of life. How tragic when God’s people today put their trust in their wealth, positions, and human abilities and not in the God who alone can give blessing.”
David says of his enemies, “in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath” (Psa 62:9b). The balances (מאֹזֵן mozen), in this statement, seem to refer to the scales of divine judgment. That is, when these people are viewed from the divine perspective, there is nothing to them but the optic of weighty importance. According to Ross, “People think they are important, but in fact they are nothing more than a wisp of air, insignificant and worthless—and so they are unrighteous, of no value to God.” In contrast, the righteous who know and walk with the Lord have substance of character, which might explain David’s previous use of the term glory (כָּבוֹד kabod), which in its basic meaning refers to something that is heavy.
David continues his instruction, saying, “Do not trust in oppression and do not vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart upon them” (Psa 62:10). Power feeds pride in those who operate by human viewpoint. Having nothing more than themselves and their wealth to sustain them, the arrogant seek to retain their power by oppression, which is a common feature of tyrants. David warns his hearers not to trust in oppression or riches, saying, “do not set your heart upon them” (Psa 62:10b). David is instructing his audience to regulate their own hearts (לֵב leb), and not to direct their thoughts and affections on oppression or riches as a source of personal security. Oppression speaks of the desire to overpower others by means of force or deceitful manipulation, and this because the oppressor feels threatened by others.
David closes out his psalm, saying, “Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God; 12 and lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord, for You recompense a man according to his work” (Psa 62:11-12). David reports that “Once God has spoken” to him, which means that what follows is divine perspective. David also says, “twice I have heard this”, which, according to Radmacher, “is a convention of wisdom literature to use a number and then raise it by one (Prov 30:11–33). The point here is that David has heard the message with certainty.” The two things David understood was “that power belongs to God; and lovingkindness is Yours” (Psa 62:11b-12a). Though people may hold positions of power, whether assumed or delegated (cf. John 19:10-11), God alone holds absolute power (עֹז oz). But, unlike people, God’s power is never arbitrary or cruel, for it is tied to His lovingkindness (חֶסֶד chesed). God, who delivers His righteous ones, does so because of His loyal love for them. The God of power is also the God of love. Power unchecked can be unpredictable and harmful; but when regulated by love, it is safe and beneficial.
In the final clause, David stated of God, “You recompense a man according to his work” (Psa 62:12b). Under the Mosaic Law, God promised to reward His people when they lived in righteous conformity with His directives (see Deut 28:1-14). Israelites who abided by God’s directives and lived righteously could, with absolute confidence, trust that God would reward them as He’d promised, for “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Num 23:19a), and “the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind” (1 Sam 15:29a; cf., Tit 1:2; Heb 6:18). Though a believer might experience adversity as David was experiencing, in the end, God would prove to be his Savior and would reward him for his faithfulness.
In the dispensation of the Church age, though God may sovereignly choose to bless some materially (1 Tim 6:17-19), generally we are not promised material riches in this life. Rather, we are promised that when we live righteously, we can expect unjust persecution (2 Tim 3:12; cf., Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 3:14). Of course, God being just, will reward us as His children, but our reward is promised in the afterlife, when we stand before His judgment seat to be compensated for the life we’ve lived on earth (1 Cor 3:10-15). Ours is a future reward.
Psalm 62 is a picture of confidence in the Lord as David faces a threatening situation and counsels his own soul to operate and abide by divine viewpoint. David seeks to calm his soul with divine viewpoint rather than let it focus on unsettling circumstances which create anxiety. David knows that God is powerful and good and will provide what he needs as his Rock, Refuge, and Savior. In this way, David is able to apply God’s Word to his situation and stabilize his own soul in the midst of adversity. David knows he’s in a covenant relationship with God and that if he follows the Lord’s directives and lives righteously, that God will reward him as He promised (Deut 28:1-14). Christians living in the dispensation of the Church age rest in divine promises that God is with us (Heb 13:5-6), for us (Rom 8:31), and will guard our hearts and minds when we live by faith (Phil 4:4-7).
Dr. Steven R. Cook
- The Gospel Explained
- Walking with God
- Biblical Self-Talk
- The Life of Faith
- The Lord is My Shepherd – Psalm 23
- God is our Refuge and Strength – Psalm 46
- Choosing the Faithful Way – Psalm 119: 25-32
- God’s Word Sustains Us – Psalm 119:89-96
- Establish Our Footsteps – Psalm 119:129-136
- Seek Your Servant – Psalm 119:169-176
- A Song of Ascent – Psalm 123
- Bible Promises that Strengthen our Faith
 Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 688.
 Tremper Longman III, Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2014), 244.
 Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, Kregel Exegetical Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2011–2013), 369.
 Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 1283.
 Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, 369.
 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 239.
 Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, 370.
 Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston, “Foreword,” in Psalms, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 258.
 Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 226.
 Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, 370.
 John N. Oswalt, “233 בָּטַח,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 101.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Worshipful, 1st ed., “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004), 211.
 Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, 373.
 Earl D. Radmacher, et al, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 689.