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Most psalms of affliction begin with the problem and work through to the solution of faith—there is a story arc to the psalm. One of them is grim and gray from beginning to end (Ps. 88). But this psalm is all confidence, from the first words to the end of the psalm. The troubles are there, but so is the faith, right from the start. The psalmist is not working things out as he sings—this is already worked out.
“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: From him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved . . .” (Psalm 62:1-12).
Summary of the Text
David waits upon God because he knows that God is his salvation (v. 1). God alone is his rock and salvation; God alone is his sure defense, and this is why he will not be moved (v. 2). He then turns to challenge his adversaries—how long will they devise mischief? They are all of them going down, they are all going to be slain (v. 3). They are bent like a bulging wall, ready to collapse (v. 3). They conspire against David’s majesty; they delight in lies, and their mouths and hearts respectively juxtapose blessing and cursing (v. 4). Reflect on this. Selah. David charges his soul to wait upon God only, and to look to Him for his expectation (v. 5). God is his rock and salvation; God is his defense, and David is therefore immovable (v. 6). God is his salvation and his glory; his rock and refuge are in God (v. 7). The people are then charged to trust in Him always, and to pour out their hearts before Him. God is our refuge again, and Selah again (v. 8). Men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie (v. 9); together they are a bunch of air piled onto the scales. Don’t trust in oppression or theft. If riches grow, you should still not trust in them (v. 10). God has said one thing—no, make that two things He has said. The first is that power belongs to God (v. 11), and the second is that mercy belongs to God (v. 12). God renders to every man according to his work (v. 12).
The Glory of Mine
Notice what David does here—my expectation, my rock, my salvation, my defense, my salvation, my glory, my strength, my refuge. As Spurgeon put it, “It is the word my which puts the honey into the comb.” My expectation—where is despair? My rock—where is uncertainty? My salvation—where is he that condemns? My defense—where is loss? My strength—where is failure? My refuge—where is vulnerability?
And the one that may surprise us is this one: my glory—where is slander? As John Donne once put it, “If my ‘glory,’ what calumny shall defame me?”
Democracy and Aristocracy
The rabble is a bunch of nothing, but few are deceived by them anyway. The men of high degree—the aristocracy—are a lie because people think they might be formidable. But put the great and small together onto the scales and they are lighter than vanity. Take the mob and take the elite, and hold them up against the strength of God—it is like trying to weigh a cloud of helium on your bathroom scales.
We don’t want to adopt the cynicism of Ambrose Bierce when he defined an idiot as “a member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.” But having resisted that temptation, we still have to recognize that he was closer to the truth than any amount of chirrupy and optimistic vainglory.
Notice how the biblical writers do not choose up sides between rich and poor. They are not elitists and they are not populists. Some think God automatically sides with the rich. Some think he automatically sides with the poor. No, there are other variables.
If Riches Increase . . .
Those men who trust in riches should know that riches have never been true or faithful. Riches are a heartbreaker—if you are foolish enough to trust in them. They fly to you on the wings of little sparrows, and fly away like a condor. A man consumed with how to get and how to keep the vanity of wealth is like a man looking for constancy in love by dating floozies, painted ladies, and honky-tonk angels. Do not trust in them. We see the same thing in 1 Timothy 6.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
Riches should be brought in like contract labor, not wooed and courted like a prospective wife. So you who desire to be rich, you who really want that status with all your soul—I have a word from God for you.
Merciful and Mighty
The writer of Holy, Holy, Holy put these words—merciful and mighty—together, and he did so with a wonderful biblical instinct. Nehemiah prayed this way—“I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments . . .” (Neh. 1:5). Or “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him . . .” (Dan. 9:4).
Merciful and mighty—this is what we should know about our God. I have known one thing . . . no, two things I have known. First, we know that power belongs to God. And we know also—through Jesus Christ—that mercy belongs to Him as well. And whatever belongs to God, through Christ, belongs to us as well. That means that we are in present possession of God’s power and God’s mercy. Let us give thanks for that now.