What does Psalms 63 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Absalom, one of David's sons, used deception and propaganda to gather followers (2 Samuel 15:1–6, 10–12). When the time was right, Absalom moved on Jerusalem and David was forced to make a hasty retreat (2 Samuel 15:13–14). This led David and those still loyal over the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15:30) and beyond the Jordan river (2 Samuel 16:14) before they could find rest and safety (2 Samuel 17:27–29). This psalm involves themes highlighted by those events, such as physical thirst, danger, lies, and a need to depend on God.

David begins by expressing his desire to know God as equal to great thirst, such as when someone travels through the desert. Despite his difficult circumstances, he is fully committed to praising the Lord. David's prior experiences had proven that God would provide him with victory and safety (1 Samuel 17:36, 51; 2 Samuel 8:6; Psalm 18:49–50). This confidence was tied to the Lord's promises about David's kingship and those who would inherit it (2 Samuel 7:11–13). Knowing this, David chooses to rely on the Lord for safety and trust in divine power (Psalm 63:1–8).

In contrast, David expects those who have lied and conspired against him to be defeated. In fact, he anticipates them suffering utter defeat. This includes imagery of men falling in battle and their corpses being consumed by scavengers. Those loyal to David, who love the Lord, can expect to celebrate victory. The dishonest ones who have opposed the king, however, will be silenced forever (Psalm 63:9–11).
Verse Context:
Psalm 63:1–4 expresses David's intense desire to experience God's presence and fellowship. David wrote these words while fleeing from enemies through a parched, uninhabited area (2 Samuel 16:14; 17:27–29). He compares his yearning for fellowship with God to his intense hunger and thirst. David vows to praise God forever because of the Lord's loyal love.
In Psalm 63:5–8, David exults in the Lord. The prior verses compared David's desire to know God with physical thirst and hunger. Now, he makes a comparison between the satisfaction of good food and the joy of worship. David looks to the past and sees the Lord's powerful work in his life. As a result, he confidently trusts in God and expresses delighted praise.
Psalm 63:9–11 concludes by contrasting two different fates. One is the doom of David's enemies, who oppose the Lord's will and tell lies (2 Samuel 15:13–14). The other destiny is that of David and his loyal followers. Enemies can expect death and disaster, while David and other godly people anticipate celebration in victory.
Chapter Summary:
David longs to know God the same way a man wishes for water and rest when wandering in the desert. Praise to God is as satisfying as eating rich foods. David trusts entirely in the Lord and His protection. The enemies who seek David's throne will be defeated; in his confidence David plans to rejoice when this occurs. This psalm was inspired by David's hasty retreat from Absalom's rebellion, through the wilderness (2 Samuel 17:27–29).
Chapter Context:
This song was inspired by David's experiences during the rebellion of his son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13–14). Other writings associated with this event include Psalms 3, 4, 5, 8, 41, and 62. When David evacuated Jerusalem, his traveling group made a difficult journey through dry, uninhabited wilderness areas (2 Samuel 16:14; 17:2, 27–29). The song creates a parallel between David's physical needs and his desire to reconnect with the Lord.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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