Psalm 62 is one of the great expressions of a realistic faith. We do not know the circumstances under which it was written but it is clear from verses 3 and 4 that it is a difficult time for the author, who is identified as David. In the midst of that difficult time we discover David expressing tremendous trust in God and, more importantly, in God alone.
The Psalm is nicely organized for us around three stanzas each ending with the Hebrew word “Selah” which was probably a musical notation whose exact meaning is lost. Warren Wiersbe outlined it this way:
Verses 1-4 God Alone Saves
Verses 5-8 God Alone Encourages
Verses 9-12 God Alone Rewards
David stated his faith in the strongest possible way and then looks at the circumstances in which he found himself and implied that in that setting it was difficult to really believe what his faith declared. David went on to note that in the end he had to hold onto those truths as he discovered that theological beliefs that are put to the test are stronger. The only real test of the truth we say we believe is in the venue of difficulty.
The Psalm begins with one of the strongest expressions of faith anywhere. David was expressing complete confidence in God who, according to verse 2, was his rock, his salvation and his fortress.
There is a strong confession in this Psalm that is easily missed in the English because of the difficulty of translating the Hebrew in a way that allows it to flow smoothly. In the first 9 verses of this Psalm there is a Hebrew word which means something like “I don’t care what you say, I am sure that” or if we try at a single word “only” or “alone”. It occurs 6 times in those verses (v.1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9) and occurs first in each of the sentences, which is a Hebrew way of declaring it to be important. The NIV uses “alone” in 4 of these verses.
The small word “only” or “alone” adds a lot to what the Psalmist was telling us. David was declaring that he trust completely in God. Then he added that he was not trusting God plus something else, which is too often our tendency. He trusted God alone. As believers we have discovered the truth of trusting God alone for our salvation but often, we find it difficult to have that same “alone” trust in the other areas of life.
It’s easy in life to trust in God and at the same time want to be sure that we have back-up protection. The problem comes when we trust God and at the same time insist on some additional back-up. We end up with one foot on a solid foundation while the other is on shaky ground. If nothing else, this Psalm should challenge each of us to re-examine our lives to be sure that our trust is in God and God alone. It is fine to have other things in place as a part of God’s provision for us but our faith, our trust or confidence has to remain in God alone. For example, we trust God to care for us in retirement years but often we find it easier to trust Him if we have a good retirement account. The key is to know that if that account fails God will still care for us. We can thank Him for an account but know it is but one piece of the way He will care for us.
Verse 1 not only challenges us to trust God alone but to do so in a way that gives God the opportunity and time to display His care. The NIV says we are to “rest” in God alone. The Psalmist was expressing a Hebrew concept found in other Old Testament passages. One of the most powerful pictures of this is found when the Israelites left Egypt and came to the Red Sea. Before them was a huge body of water that defied crossing. Looking back, they saw the Egyptian army was fast approaching. They panicked but God spoke and used a phrase that equates to what the Psalmist says here. God said “Be still and know that I am God.” Literally, just stand there quietly and allow me to work. The Psalmist reminds us that there are times when we cannot see a way out and may not see God at work but at those times, we need to be still, be quiet, rest and watch Him work.
There is an interesting contrast in verse 8 where the Psalmist was challenging others to follow his example of trust while he urged them to pour out their souls to God. The idea is to tell God all that is on one’s heart and mind, to be totally open and vulnerable with Him. This strikes a balance that is needed in prayer and communion with God. There is a time to pour out our souls and there is a time to be still and know that He is God. We need to be honest with God about our feelings but at the same to we need to quietly listen for His still small voice and for Him to work.
One important note that is significant and perhaps missed in the NIV translation. In other translations, verse 2 ends with the words “I shall not be greatly moved.” The idea is that there may be some movement, but it will not be much. It would not be a movement that would destroy or ruin him. We need to be aware that we will face challenges and difficulties. There will be times when we will question, doubt a bit, be fearful, etc. but in those times, there will not be a great movement away from our trust in God.
If the Psalm ended after verse 2 it would be easy for us to say, “That expresses a real faith, but is it relevant to where I am today?” The Psalm does not end there. Verses 3 and 4 describe a condition that we can easily see was difficult at best and perhaps close to disaster. We don’t need the details to know that in such circumstances one will inevitably ask, “Where is God in all of this? If He is really my rock and fortress, why am I under such severe pressure and in such an ugly situation?” But notice what the Psalmist’s response was in verses 5-7. His confidence stood, in contrast to the terror raised by those described in verses 3 and 4. He moved on in his confession with gave a charge to himself. Literally he was saying, “Listen, despite all that is happening around you, don’t forget the only one who can help you.” He was reminding himself that the faith he believed in during good times must now be applied in difficult times. Confessed theology is not totally real until it has been applied it in a real-life situation. We can talk of promises that are ours but until we claim them, they are only paper promises. We can talk of the strength He can give but until we apply that strength it is only a theory. We can talk of the peace that passes understanding, but until we allow Him to give us that peace it is only good teaching.
Verse 7 declares honored him when God was seen in him. When one truly trusts God alone, he will, in his actions and personality, reflect God. As one displays a real trust in God others will see God in us.
Renewed in his own faith, in verses 8-10 he advised or urged others to follow his example and put their trust totally in the Lord. One of the interesting things is David’s recommendation of his faith. We should not be surprised that David would recommend his faith to others. I’ve never met a man who wholeheartedly trusted in God who did not recommend Him to others. David said to those in his day, “Are you tired or discouraged or under pressure?” then trust God and see what great things He will do for you. Read I Timothy 6:17.
The Psalmist stated that one should trust wholly in God and God alone. Then in verses 11 and 12 he declared that God is both powerful and merciful. God has both the power and the love to accomplish that which is best for us. If God were all-powerful but not loving He would do nothing for us. If He were all loving but lacked power, He could not do anything for us. Since He is both powerful and loving we can depend upon Him totally.
Because of God’s faithfulness and blessing the Psalm ends with a note on the works of men. Verse 12 concludes with a reminder that we should be doing something in response to His love. Too often in our emphasis on grace we ignore the place of works in the Christian life but Ephesians 2:10 talks of being saved unto good works. We have been redeemed that we might serve Him and then in His mercy and grace He has chosen to reward that work.
The questions this Psalm encourages us to ask are as follows: “In whom am I trusting?” and “Am I trusting Him alone?” When we answer those questions correctly, we find peace even in these uncertain times.