Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
The many close resemblances between this psalm and Psalms 39 lead to the inference that it belongs to the same time, and is even from the same pen. The author and his age are, however, alike unknown; and there is no indication to guide to their discovery. The psalm records an experience common in every age, of the vanity of those objects on which man is apt to set his affections; but an experience particularly likely to find expression in days such as so many of the psalms reflect, when there was open conflict between the national sentiment and the ruling classes. The poet’s is a voice raised in behalf of pious Israel suffering under tyranny. A refrain (Psalm 62:1-2; Psalm 62:5-7) marks the rhythmical structure, but the form is irregular.
Title.—See titles, Psalms 4, 39.
To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David. Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.(1) Waiteth upon God.—Literally, unto God (is) silence my soul. (Comp. Psalm 22:2; Psalm 39:2; Psalm 65:1.) The LXX. and Vulg., “shall be in subjection to,” which no doubt gives one side of the feeling; but another may be illustrated by Wordsworth’s—
“The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration.”
He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.(2) Defence.—Properly, high tower, as so often. The metaphor is important here from the contrast with the tottering wall of next verse.
Shall not be greatly moved . . .—i.e. (as in Psalm 37:24), shall not be made to totter or fall.
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.(3) Imagine mischief.—This is the Rabbinical rendering of a word that occurs only here. The LXX. have “fall upon”; Vulg., “rush upon,” a meaning supported by an Arabic root meaning to storm or assault, and is so far preferable to Aquila’s and Jerome’s “plot against,” and Symmachus’ “labour in vain,” or Syriac, “act foolishly.”
Ye shall be slain.—The reading varies, the Tiberian school reading the verb passive, the Babylonian, active. The latter is supported by the ancient versions. The primary meaning is given to break, and we get:
How long will ye assault a man?
(How long) will ye try to break him down,
As if he were a bowing wall, a tottering fence.
The metaphor of the falling wall is common in Eastern proverbs. “The wall is bowing,” is said of a man at the point of death. “By the oppression of the headman, the people of that village are a ruined wall.”
They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.(4) Their mouth.—Literally, his mouth. They bless each with his mouth, &c
Excellency.—Rather, height, carrying on the metaphor of preceding verse.
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.(5) As in Psalm 62:1. Truly to God, be silence my soul. The state of resignation is one which can only be preserved by prayer. We may say, I will, but can only feel it through prayer.
In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.(7) In God.—Literally, upon God, as in Psalm 7:10.
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.(9) Are vanity.—Or, mere breath.
To be laid in the balance.—Literally, in the balances to go up, which may mean in the scales they must go up, i.e., kick the beam. But a slight change in one letter gives the more probable, when weighed in the scales.
Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.(10) If riches increase.—Even if by honest means you grow rich, distrust your wealth.
God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.(11) Once; twice.—The usual Hebrew mode of emphasising a numerical statement, and one growing naturally out of the structure of the verse, which loves a climax. (Comp. Proverbs 6:16-19.) The union of power and love is proved to the poet by the fairness and justice mentioned in the last clause.