According to the superscription, Psalm 62 is a psalm of David. While there is no explicit, historical context for the psalm, it refers to those who “assail a man that you may murder him” (Psalm 62:3). There were multiple points in David’s life when people were seeking to kill him, so this psalm could have been inspired by many of the events in David’s life.
The psalm breaks down into five sections:
- [vs. 1-2] Opening Admonition: David directs his soul to wait and trust in God’s ability to save, satisfy, and sustain.
- [3-4] Introduction of the conflict
- [5-8] Restatement and expansion of admonition: David, again, admonishes his own soul to wait upon God and calls others to do the same.
- [9-10] Warning against hoping in other things to save, satisfy, and sustain
- [11-12] Closing statement: The confidence engendered by God’s, revealed attributes.
There are a couple things to note when considering the structure of this psalm. First, the stanzas alternatively focus on God (in stanzas 1, 3, and 5) and men (stanzas 2 and 4). This parallelism emphasizes the contrast between God and man. Second, there is interesting interplay between the stanzas. For example, compare stanza 1 with stanza 3; they are almost the same. Now, consider stanzas 2 and 4; David’s description of men changes. Ignoring, for the moment, the content of each stanza, the very fact that the stanzas about men change while the stanzas about God remain largely the same should tell you something. David is communicating theology through structure and not just content.
So what does the text say? As stated at the beginning, this psalm primarily focuses on God’s ability to save (in David’s case, save from physical dangers), satisfy, and sustain. There is also an emphasis throughout the psalm on God’s unique ability to do each one. We’ll now consider each of these points.
God’s Ability to Save
When we read about salvation in the Bible, it is important to ask ourselves a few questions:
- Who is saved?
- From what are they saved?
- Who is doing the saving?
- Does this salvation apply to Christians?
Let’s consider how each question relates to psalm 62.
Who is saved?
Based on verse 1 where David uses the first person determiner “my”, we can see that David is the one being saved (or at least hoping for salvation). David expands this in verse 8 where he encourages all Israel to wait for salvation.
From what are they saved?
Based on verses 3 and 4, there were some people in David’s life who were seeking to kill him or, at least, remove him from power. When David refers to salvation (verses 1, 2, 6, and 7), he is referring to salvation from his physical circumstances. David had specific promises from God regarding his physical circumstances. For example, in 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed King instead of Saul. David, however, spends the next few years running for his life from Saul. At this point in David’s life, he had the promise of his anointing (signifying he was king), but that promise was not yet realized. Based on 2 Samuel 7, David knew that the Messiah was going to come from his line. There were times in David’s life and beyond (see 2 Kings 11), however, when it seemed that this promise might not come to pass. Many of the promises God gave to David related to the physical world.
We, as those living in the Church age, do not have many of the same promises and we need to be careful taking a psalm and applying it directly to ourselves. The salvation available through Jesus Christ is not salvation from temporal ills and trials (in fact, those are promised in John 16:33 and 2 Timothy 3:12). It is a salvation from God’s wrath which was to be justly poured out on sinful humanity. So, David is not referring to salvation in the same sense that the New Testament uses the term. That being said, the fundamental struggle of trusting God’s promises still applies to us today. we’ll discuss that more under the “Does this salvation apply to us?” heading.
Who is doing the saving?
David makes it abundantly clear that God is the one doing the saving. David’s salvation comes from God (verse 1) and is God (verses 2, 6 and 7). When David says God “is my rock and my salvation”, he means both that his salvation stems from God and that God’s very existence assures him of his salvation. Because God is faithful to His promises, David’s salvation is not something God might do, it is something God will do based on God’s own essence.
Does this salvation apply to us?
Does the salvation described in this psalm apply to us? To put it differently: could a Christian rightly pray this psalm? If you consider the specific, direct meaning of this psalm (namely, David praying for salvation from those threatening to kill him and remove him from power (see verses 3-4)), it is not right for a Christian to pray this psalm to God because Christians do not have the same promises from God that David had. If you consider the more general, theological message of the psalm (namely, God’s ability to save those He loves from their greatest dangers according to His promises), then a Christian can absolutely pray this psalm. A Christian can pray this psalm as long as they are praying based on the theology of the psalm rather than the specific details.
I say all this to make it clear that God makes different promises to different people at different times. If we fail to recognize this, we will misinterpret many passages. Psalm 62 does not apply directly to us, but the theology presented in the psalm absolutely applies.
God’s Ability to Satisfy
God satisfies unlike anything else. One of the recurring themes throughout scripture (whether in narratives or admonition) is the vanity of seeking money, power, status, sex, or possessions as the ultimate purpose and satisfaction in one’s life. Our passions and desires are too great to be satisfied with trivialities such as these; we were designed to be in relationship with an infinite and infinitely good being. How can the passing pleasures of possessions satisfy? In Psalm 62:7, David states that his glory is found in God. That is, the thing in which he most rejoices and uses to define himself is God. David is stating that even in the midst of difficult and trying circumstances, God is the one who ultimately satisfies.
God’s Ability to Sustain
The descriptions of God as a “rock” (verses 2, 6, and 7), “stronghold” (verses 2 and 6), and “refuge” (verses 7 and 8) emphasize God’s ability to protect and sustain those God loves through trials. Neither David nor us have a promise that there will be no trials in this life, but we both have promises and examples of God’s protection. What a joy for David ad for us to be able to trust in God’s faithfulness and protection! It doesn’t diminish the trial nor remove the distressing circumstances, but it gives us hope to persevere in the midst of hardship. This is reminiscent of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. Paul and his companions were simultaneously suffering greatly and yet sustained by God.
The Uniqueness of God’s Abilities
Not only does Psalm 62 establish God ability to save, satisfy, and sustain, but it also reminds us of God’s unique ability to do each of these things. There is nothing that can save but God. There is nothing that can truly satisfy like God. There is nothing that can ultimately sustain but God. As David notes in verses 9 and 10, it is tempting to trust in men, oppression, robbery, and/or wealth, but all of these things are not worth comparing to God.
Do you believe that God is uniquely able to save, satisfy, and sustain? Better yet: Does your life demonstrate you believe this? Let us learn to cultivate a heart and mind that views God as the source and giver of all good things. Let us trust in him for salvation from our sins, hope in Him for future salvation from this fallen world, seek the pleasures He provides, and find refuge and rest in Him.