March 4, 2016

Tom Lowe





Title: God Alone is a Sure Defense

A Psalm of David, to the chief Musician, to Jeduthun{2], on a stringed instrument, a wisdom psalm

Theme: The noble assertion of calm assurance in God in the midst of distress.




Psalm 62


1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

3 How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.

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

6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.

7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.




This is one of David’s psalms.  It is called the “only” psalm, not because there are no others—there are 149 others—but because the word only is significant.  “Truly [better translated only] my soul waiteth upon God . . .  He only is my rock and my salvation . . .  they only consult to cast him down . . .  wait thou only upon God . . .  He only is my rock.” Some think Psalm 62 was written when David was a fugitive from Saul.  More weight is given, however, to the belief that it was written at the time of Absalom’s rebellion.  Those were difficult years as the forces of Saul tried to continue his dynasty and dethrone God’s anointed king.  Tradition tells us that this psalm came from the greatest heartbreak of David’s life—the rebellion led by his son Absalom.  Shakespeare spoke of times that try men’s souls.  This time had come to the old king. 


David’s great sin with Bathsheba was in the recent past.  He had gone through a period when his soul was in agony and his spiritual anchors would not hold due to all the problems he faced; rebellion, an unfaithful son, betrayal by his friends, sickness, and overwhelming guilt. He had come through the dreadful period of sickness when, as some believe, he actually became a leper.  That was all behind him now; he has been forgiven and his sin put away forever.


But now he had a new trouble to face.  David had not paid much attention to the affairs of his kingdom, and instead gave his time and energy to making up for his sin, feeding his sorrow, and seeking healing for his sickness—and Absalom had been busy.  He had stolen the hearts of the men of Israel and had been actively looking for any means to seize the throne.  The conspiracy had been growing, becoming stronger every day.  The king had only recently learned about it and his alarm and disappointment had driven him back to God.  That seems to be the best setting for this psalm.


This is a simple psalm, written by a man of simple faith.  It reveals a faith and confidence in God that is akin to a child’s faith in his parents.  The message of Psalm 62 is that God is the only true refuge.  The psalm contrasts the security of trusting God with the insecurity of relying on human devices.  The repetition of the words “only” and “alone” emphasize His exclusive right to our full and undivided trust.  The exact circumstances of the psalmist may not be clear, which has led to some speculation, but what is patently obvious is his absolute trust in God.  There is no need for him to keep on crying to God; he is so sure of the dependability of God that he is content to silently await God’s deliverance—“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry”(40:1).  Any other possible grounds for confidence—whether human power or material resources are illusionary.


Among the many beautiful ways in which the Lord is presented in this psalm are:

  • The source of our salvation (2a, 6a, 7a)
  • Our rock (2a, 6a, 7b)
  • Our defense (2c, 6c)
  • The basis of our expectation (5b)
  • Our glory (7a)
  • Our refuge (7b, 8b)
  • The source of power (11b)
  • The fountain of mercy (12a)


Anyone who makes God the ground of his confidence and strength has the following confidences:

  • He shall not be greatly moved (2b)
  • He has boldness to rebuke his enemies (3)
  • He can see me through their plans and strategies (4)
  • He shall not be moved (6b)
  • He will want others to know the joy of trusting God (8)




(62:1-4) David felt himself particularly vulnerable.  Anyone who has been caught in a sin knows the feeling—shame, guilt, a sense of unworthiness to ever again act or speak for God.  Satan takes full advantage of the soul’s uncertainties in such a case.  Feeling himself vulnerable David spoke of the source of his strength.


(62:1-2) His defense was in God not in his armies, his wealth, his charisma, or his palace.  In this growing crisis, God was all in all to him in two ways:



1-2a Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock (fortress) and my salvation.

(62:1-2a) His Salvation Is in God


Psalm 62 is considered by some to be the prayer of a man who suffers from a severe illness.  There is some evidence and several scriptures where David appears to have contacted leprosy. That may have happened, and I believe it did; however, I believe that a thorough study of the psalm will show, beyond any doubt, that it was written at the time Absalom was seeking to forcibly obtain the throne of Israel from his father.


“My soul waiteth upon God” is literally, “My soul is silent before God.” This silence in the presence of God is sometimes the most eloquent form of prayer.  Silence indicates trust that is both patient and uncomplaining.


The psalmist addresses first his opponents who are hurling insults and threats at him and attacking him.  In his weakened physical condition he feels like a pushed-in wall (62:3).  Then suddenly he speaks, not unto, but of, these deceitful enemies whose smooth words hide the hateful intent of their hearts.


No doubt there were those around David—fanatics of those days—who urged that he stand his ground and thereby exhibit his faith, for he was God’s anointed and God should overrule this whole matter.  Not David!  He said that his life was in God’s hands, and it seemed best that he leave Jerusalem at this time.


It is a sad state of affairs, for we have much to fear and nothing to rely on or trust, in humankind.  Consequently, under human pressure in all its reality, where is our resource?  ONLY AND PERFECTLY IN GOD!  This truth is stated in verses 1 and 2, repeated as self-encouragement in verses 5 and 6, commended to others in verses 7 and 8, and grounded in a Word of God in verses 11 and 12.  This is no “ivory-tower” doctrine but one proved in the hard school of experience; that people can be very menacing (62:3-4) and that the world offers no solution either in its people (62:9) or its practices (62:10).



2b He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

(62:2b) His Security Is in God


When David wrote that, he did not anticipate being driven off his throne and forced to flee across Jordon to Gilead.  Yet even when it happened he was not “greatly moved” (“shaken,” or “demoralized”); which indicates that the psalmist is like a tree swaying in the wind, bent but not broken, like a ship moored at the harbor is buffeted but not destroyed. 


David was realistic enough to know that Absalom had charisma and charm.  He was the best-looking man in the kingdom; he had a persuasive tongue, winning ways, and a dash of daring.  He was his father all over again, without David’s sensitivity and spirituality.  With his high connections throughout the ruling establishment and his flair for stirring-up the masses, Absalom was a formidable opponent, but David was not “greatly moved.”  His throne had roots so substantial in the plans and promises of God that, come what may, he could not be greatly moved.  HE STAKED HIS SECURITY IN GOD.  Whatever might happen to him in this life would never be severe enough to dislodge the promises of future glory that God had given him, especially about his supreme Son.


We may do the same—come what may.  Often enough our circumstances are calculated to throw us into a panic.  Yet we can look up and say along with David; “He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.” Those who would do us harm simply do not have the power to move us if we make God our “defense.” I can hear David say, “Though I may be shaken, yet I shall not be overthrown.” “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (37:24). “Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9).


If I can just make this great truth clear so that it will live for you!  Here is a man so wholly committed to God that he says, ‘if it is God’s will for him to come back to this city, he will be allowed to come back; if not, then he is in God’s hands.’  He refuses to attempt to force God to do anything; instead, he determines to go the way God leads, regardless of the path.



(62:3-4) David looked his situation squarely in the face.  For though he was a spiritual man with lofty thoughts and soaring hopes, he was not a starry-eyed dreamer cut off from reality.  He was a tough-minded, practical soldier, quite capable of sizing up a foe.



3 How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

(62:3) His Enemies Were Pushing Against Him


“Imagine mischief against” is literally “rush upon,” attack or assault.  ‘How long will you rush upon a man to destroy him?’


David aptly summed up his current situation.  As his friends saw it his position was weak; he was like a “bowing (leaning) wall,” a “tottering fence.”  One more good push and down he would go.  There were those in Israel, led by Absalom and Ahithophel, who were preparing to lead the mob in a well-coordinated final assault on David’s shaky position.  He had already lost the loyalty and sympathies of the youth of the land.  Many Benjamites resented the collapse of Saul’s short-lived dynasty which had brought glory to their tribe.  Ephraim never lost an opportunity to cut down Judea, and Absalom was cleverly orchestrating this growing discontent.  David’s enemies were pushing him hard.


NOTE: I need to mention at this point that some commentators have interpreted the “bowing wall” and “tottering fence” as references to David’s enemies. It is his enemies who shall be slain, who are bowing and tottering.  It is they who “consult to cast him down from his excellency” (62:4). They will be unsuccessful, even though they used the double weapons of blessing and cursing.  “They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly” (62:4).  Public flattery and private character assassination are favored tricks of those “who imagine mischief against the righteous.”


“Ye shall be slain all of you” is David’s answer to all their plotting against him.  All the injury and damage you plan for me shall fail and fall upon your own heads.  And accordingly Saul and the majority of his men were slain (1 Samuel 31).



4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.

62:4) His Enemies Were Plotting Against Him


Hebraists (specialists in Hebrew and Hebraic studies) say that the word “excellency,”{1] as it is used here is of considerable interest.  It occurs 14 times in the Bible—half of them in Leviticus where the word is used to describe the ravages of leprosy.  It is interesting, to say the least, that the word should be used here.  It is one more of those hints in the psalms about David’s illness.  The word is used here, however, in quite a different connotation.  It is used to depict David’s rank and royalty“They only consult to cast him down from his excellency.” They were delighting in lies, hypocritically saying good things to his face while inwardly cursing him and saying bad things behind his back.  David knew that they could not succeed in using such methods, even though they might be able to win some initial victories.


It often seems as though lies and hypocrisy are more effective weapons than simple truth and integrity.  Deception is a major weapon in the communist assault on the world and it certainly seems to be successful in many places.  The basic theory is that of the big lie: tell a lie big enough and often enough and people eventually will believe it.  This principle of deception will eventually blossom into what the Bible calls “the strong dilution,” when men will believe the ultimate lie of the beast and bring down the wrath of God upon the world.  Then Jesus will return, He who has the truth.


David’s foes were plotting against him.  Their chief weapon was deceit and hypocrisy.  Absalom had made deceit and hypocrisy to flourish.  But God was David’s strong tower!  The enemy could threaten him, lie about him, and even assault him, and he would not lose the peace God put in his heart.  To wait in silence before the Lord is not idleness or inactivity.  It is called worship and faith, resting in His greatness and submitted to Him as well.  It is preparation for the time when God gives the orders to act (18:30-45).



(62:5-7) David repeated almost word for word the things he had just been saying.  It was only by constant repetition that he could maintain the calmness of his soul in the face of the growing threat of his circumstances.  The psalmist faces these vicious threats of the enemy with the calm confidence that God will save and protect him.  Verses 5-7 contain one of the profoundest expressions of confident trustful waiting upon God to be found in the entire book of psalms.



5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. (62:5)


“My soul, wait thou only upon God.”The constant temptation in a time of growing crisis is to be up and doing.  Inactivity seems to be the worst possible policy. “Do something, anything!  Don’t just sit there!  Do something!” That is Satan’s advice to the soul.  Satan uses high pressure tactics.  He is the one who urges us to act impulsively and prayerlessly.  Occasionally, of course, the Holy Spirit will prompt a competent, sensitive believer to do something on the spur of the moment, but that is not His usual way.  He gives us time to be still.  Be still!  It is good advice in an hour of difficulty and despair.


“For my expectation is from him.” It is a good idea for us to look away from all creature-help, and to look to God alone.  In verses 5-8, the psalmist addresses God as “my expectation” . . .  “my rock”. . .  “my salvation” . . .  “my defense”. . .  “my salvation” . . .  “ my glory”. . .  “my strength, and my refuge.”   All these are personal references to the character of God.  Notice how his confidence grows.  The more he contrasts God with those who would do him mischief, the more the psalmist sees the absolute strength of his position in God.  In light of this, David’s advice to all is “Trust in him at all times . . .  pour out your heart before him” (62:8).    


Now, imagine if you will this old king going out of Jerusalem; we hear him weeping.  But these exterior things fade away when we glimpse the depths of his heart, for he is a man who is committed to God and he will go with God regardless of what the outcome might be.  Other men would have become bitter, but not David.  He is saying something here that is tremendous: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; . . . my expectation is from him.”



6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.



This is an enhancement of what David said in verse two, “I shall not be greatly moved.” Now he has said “I shall not be moved,” which is even stronger than the former (62:2), for the idea is that he will not be moved at all. His exercise of soul before God had already begun to have a stabilizing effect on his soul.


“My rock!”  “My salvation!”  “My defense!”  He piled up descriptive words as he thought of the kind of God in Whom he could trust.  To get at David, Absalom would first have to crush that Rock, cancel that salvation, and consume that defense.  Talk about security!  Talk about being sure!  No wonder David felt better!  “I shall not be moved” is even stronger than “I shall not be greatly moved.”



7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (62:7)


Suppose David, after thinking these great thoughts of God, had allowed his mind to stray for a moment to deluded, rebellious, self-centered Absalom running to and fro, mustering his armed men to fight against those loyal to David.  It was enough to make him laugh, the contrast was so ludicrous.  But David, a man of God, would have been inclined to weep.


That is the advice David gave to his own soul.  Be still!  Be sure!  Be strong!  Settle yourself in God.  And what a God! David now turned his attention to his fainthearted followers who were dismayed at the rapid turn of the tide toward Absalom.



(62:8-12) David talked to his subjects about two things.

(62:8-10) He was going to look at this great matter of faith and trust in two ways, first positively and then negatively.



8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

(62:8a) When We Should Trust the Lord

(62:8b) Why We Should Trust the Lord


(62:8a) “Trust in him at all times; ye people” (God’s people).  “At all times,” means on dark as well as bright days.  When the heart is crammed full with sorrow or sin, what a relief it is to open-up to God and pour out all our troubles to Him!


(62:8b) “Pour out your heart before him:”--in prayer and supplication, for—“God is a refuge for us. Selah.” It is something which should encourage us when it looks as though everything is against us, when the circumstances of life are leaving us stranded on the mud banks of our own wretched little river of personal ability, we can still take refuge in our loving God.  Without God’s innumerable deliverances, David would have been crushed by his foes.  “Pour out your heart before him,” David said, “and make all your desires, and cares, and griefs of your hearts known to Him.  Do it freely and frequently, with confident expectation of obtaining what you want or desire from Him.”


The lessons of the psalmist’s experiences are now described for the encouragement and comfort of the whole congregation.  David tells how to trust rightly.  He tells when we should trust the Lord—at all times, even when we are completely overwhelmed by our situation.  He tells why we should trust the Lord—because He is a refuge for us.  Selah!



9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

(62:9) Trusting in Men


When David looked to the Lord, he saw himself as a weak tottering fence and wall (62:3).  Now, when he looked at the enemy, he saw them as—nothing!  No matter how high socially or how powerful economically, all men are but vanity (“a breath”—102:3; James 4:14; Job 7:7).


Prayer and faith have given the Psalmist a correct evaluation of status and wealth, in pursuit of which the irreligious spend their lives.  “Men of low degree” are “vanity” and “men of high degree are a lie” (a disappointment”).  Status promises much but usually disappoints those who seek it.  In their context, these words may mean that men of high rank had proved to be a disappointment to the Psalmist.  When weighed in the balance, all human distinctions of rank and importance “are altogether lighter than vanity”—they do not even weigh as much as a breath!


“Surely men of low degree are vanity.”How often have we looked for help from men and money in vain!—but God has never failed us.  The word “vanity” is literally “breath.” They are hot air. The rebels were putting their trust in the large number of Absalom’s supporters, but they were “men of low degree”—sometimes called “sons of Adam,” just ordinary men. 


“And men of high degree are a lie.” They were putting their trust in the nobility of their leaders, “men of high degree.” David uses a different word for “men” this time—not Adam but ish, men of distinction.  But even members of the nobility were foolish objects of trust when they took sides against God and His anointed one.  Trust in God, because there is no other person or thing in which you can safely trust.


“They are altogether (‘Together,’ both “high” and “low” combined signifies persons of every condition.) lighter than vanity.” They go up like the lighter side of a balance scale. They cannot prevail against David and his loyalist army. In reality, the rich and powerful are nothing more than a puff of wind (“vanity”) next to God.  Man’s insignificance also serves as a warning against trusting in oneself for security rather than turning to God.


All men, regardless of social status, are woefully inadequate objects of trust.



10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

(62:10a) Trusting in Might

(62:10b) Trusting in Money


(62:10a) “Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery.” Absalom was attracting the lawless elements of society.  They were brazen men, capable of deeds of violence and insurrection, but they would be just a rabble in the field against seasoned troops.  When the time eventually came that David had to go to war against Absalom, he did not put his trust in his own loyalist troops, even though they included seasoned veterans like Joab and Ittai.  His trust was in God.


“And become not vain in robbery,” that is, do not set your heart upon those riches which you take from others by robbery or violence.  Wealth gained at the cost of honesty is bought at too high a price.


“Oppression . . .  Robbery,”—the men of high degree oppress; the men of low degree are robbers and fraudulent: but the evil deeds of both are seen and known by Jehovah.  The increase of riches has its dangers; it generally means the increase of temptations.



(69:10b) “If riches increase,” as they may for the godly, “set not your heart upon them.” People tend to pursue riches, and many desperately turn to dishonest means (including stealing and extortion) to acquire wealth.  Yet a person’s accumulated possessions provide no long-range security.  One’s heart should remain on God, not any other substitute.  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.


No doubt Absalom was promising his followers a share of the spoils once he laid his hands upon the wealth of the kingdom—a wealth David had been carefully hoarding for the building of the Temple.  David never set his heart upon riches.  He regarded money as a sacred trust to be invested for God.  To put ones trust in money is foolish.  It can vanish overnight and, in any case, cannot buy love or loyalty or life or anything else that really matters.



(62:11-12) The Question of Truth


11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. (62:11) (62:11) The Word of God


 “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard thisindicates that“a divine revelation given more than once has special weight.  The content of this revelation therefore is not two separate things, but one: God’s omnipotence and kindness work together to the end that every man, good or evil, receives his just recompense.”  Power belongeth unto God.”Ultimately, every person will experience God’s righteousness, either in judgment or in salvation.


“Once,” “twice”—it is a figurative way of saying that God has spoken many times; personally, as at Sinai, and by his holy prophets from time to time.  If God had said it once, that would have been enough; but God has repeated that he is an omnipotent God.  Power is His!  That was an end of the matter regardless of how many men were on Absalom’s side.  It was a question of truth, of the word of God. 


“That power belongeth unto God”; that power is God’s prerogative; and consequently all creatures, either against or without Him, are poor powerless things, in which no man can trust without certain disappointment, and God alone is fit to be trusted.  It is humbling to realize that God is not only strong but also loving.  Devotion and obedience to Him will result in rewards that are both desirable and lasting.



12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

(62:12a) It Is a Merciful Way

(62:12b) It Is a Moral Way


(62:12a) “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy.” He is a God of “mercy.” (Mercy can be translated “loyal love,” the covenantal love of the Lord; 13:5.)  That is why David, when the battle with Absalom was about to begin, pleaded with his troops to show “mercy” to the rabble.  That is why David, after the battle was over, sought ways to show “mercy” to his defeated foes—even to such a man as Shimei.  God deals with men in a merciful way.  Power (62:11) and “mercy” are two of God’s resources; both displayed in His unerring judgments of men. God is almighty; therefore He can easily subdue and destroy all His and my ungodly enemies, and repay them for all their malicious and wicked practices.  He is also mild and merciful, and therefore will pardon good men’s failings, and graciously reward me and others of His people according to our integrity.


 (62:12b) “For thou renderest to every man according to his work.” That is the other side of the coin.  Those who will not accept a free pardon must face a fair trial.  This statement is quoted again and again in the New Testament.  It is quoted in Matthew 16:27; in Romans 2:6; in 1 Corinthians 3:8; in 2 Timothy 4:14; in Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13; and 22:12.  It sets forth the principle upon which God judges men.  He saves a man according to His grace and mercy; he judges men according to their works.  God keeps the books and one day will give sinners and saints the rewards they deserve.  “And each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (2 Corinthians 3:8).


Godless men with their crafty misrepresentations seem so powerful.  Material wealth promises great protection.  But the sole source of real protection upon which mere man can depend is to be found in God, who is not only merciful but just in His dealings with humanity, proportioning a man’s lot to his conduct. That is why David, faced with the growing might of Absalom, was able to leave everything with God.  He was in good hands and he knew it.



Special Notes

{1] Excellency has as one of its meanings “swelling,” which is an indication of leprosy.  However, the most likely meaning of “excellency” is “his lofty place”; a reference either to the special social position of the psalmist or to the spiritual dignity of any God fearing man.

{2] Jeduthun—was a famous temple musician (see 1 Chronicles 9:16; 16:42). Jeduthun may also be the name of a musical instrument or tune invented by him, and therefore called by his name.  Apparently he led the orchestra and the choir when this psalm was used.