Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
David, in imminent danger, flees to God for help and safety, Psa 62:1, Psa 62:2; points out the designs of his adversaries, Psa 62:3, Psa 62:4; encourages his soul to wait on God, Psa 62:5-8; shows the vanity of trusting in man, and of trusting in riches, Psa 62:9, Psa 62:10; and concludes with asserting that power and mercy belong to God, and that he will give to every man according to his works, Psa 62:11, Psa 62:12.
The title, "To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun," may mean that the Psalm was sent to him who was the chief or leader of the band of the family of Jeduthun. It appears that Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman, were chief singers in the time of David; that they, with their families, presided over different departments of the vocal and instrumental worship in the tabernacle, Ch1 25:1, etc.; that they were holy men, full of the Divine Spirit, (a thing very rare among singers and performers in these latter days), and that they prophesied with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals; that Jeduthun had six sons thus employed; that himself prophesied with a harp to give thanks and praise to God, Ch1 25:3; and that the sons of Jeduthun were appointed by lot to the different courses. The eighth course fell to his son Jeshaiah, Ch1 25:15; the twelfth, to Hashabiah, Ch1 25:19; and the fourteenth, to Mattithiah, Ch1 25:21.
Will our modern performers on instruments of music in churches and chapels, pretend to the prophetic influence? If they do not, and cannot, how dare they quote such passages in vindication of their practice, which can be no better than a dulcet noise without its original meaning, and alien from its primary use? Do they indeed prophesy with harps, and psalteries, and cymbals? or with their play-house aggregate of fiddles and flutes, bass-viols and bassoons, clarionets and kettle-drums? Away with with such trumpery and pollution from the worship and Church of Christ!
Though it is not very clear from the Psalm itself on what occasion it was composed, yet it is most likely it was during the rebellion of Absalom; and perhaps at the particular time when David was obliged to flee from Jerusalem.
Truly my soul waiteth upon God - I do not think that the original will warrant this translation, אך אל אלהים דומיה נפשי ak el Elohim dumiyah naphshi, "Surely to God only is my soul dumb." I am subject to God Almighty. He has a right to lay on me what he pleases; and what he lays on me is much less than I deserve: therefore am I dumb before God. The Vulgate, and almost all the Versions, have understood it in this sense: Nonne Deo subjecta erit anima mea? Shall not my soul be subject to God? In other words, God alone has a right to dispose of my life as he pleases.
I shall not be greatly moved - Having God for my rock - strong fortified place, for my salvation - continual safety, and my defense - my elevated tower, which places me out of the reach of my enemies; I shall not be greatly moved - I may be shaken, but cannot be cast down.
How long will ye imagine mischief - The original word, תהותתו tehothethu, has been translated variously; rush upon, rage against, stir yourselves up, thrust against: the root is התת hathath or התה hathah, to rush violently upon, to assault. It points out the disorderly riotous manner in which this rebellion was conducted.
As a bowing wall - a tottering fence - Ye are just ready to fall upon others, and destroy them; and in that fall yourselves shall be destroyed: "Ye shall be slain the whole of you."
To cast him down from his excellency - They are consulting to dethrone me, and use treachery and falsehood in order to bring it about: "They delight in lies."
They bless with their mouth - Probably alluding to Absalom's blandishments of the people. He flattered them in order to get the sovereign rule. Or it may refer to the people of Jerusalem, whose perfidy he saw, while they were full of professions of loyalty, etc.; but he could not trust them, and therefore retired from Jerusalem.
Wait thou only upon God - There is none but him in whom thou canst safely trust; and to get his help, resign thyself into his hands; be subject to him, and be silent before him; thou hast what thou hast deserved. See on Psa 62:1 (note).
In God is my salvation - עי אלהים al Elohim, "Upon God is my salvation;" he has taken it upon himself. And my glory - the preservation of my state, and the safety of my kingdom.
Trust in him - ye people - All ye who are faithful to your king, continue to trust in God. The usurper will soon be cast down, and your rightful sovereign restored to his government. Fear not the threatenings of my enemies, for God will be a refuge for us.
Men of low degree are vanity - בני אדם beney Adam, which we here translate men of low degree, literally, sons of Adam, are put in opposition to בני איש beney ish, men of high degree, literally, the sons of substance, or children of substantial men. Adam was the name of the first man when formed out of the earth; Ish was his name when united to his wife, and they became one flesh. Before, he was the incomplete man; after, he was the complete man; for it seems, in the sight of God, it requires the male and female to make one complete human being. אנוש enosh is another name given to man, but this concerns him in his low, fallen, wretched estate: it properly signifies weak, poor, addicted, wretched man.
Common men can give no help. They are vanity, and it is folly to trust in them; for although they may be willing, yet they have no ability to help you: "Rich men are a lie." They promise much, but perform nothing; they cause you to hope, but mock your expectation.
To be laid to the balance - במאזנים לעלות bemozenayim laaloth, In the balances they ascend: exactly answerable to our phrase, they kick the beam.
They are altogether lighter than vanity - Literally, Both of them united are vanity, המה מהבל יחד hemmah mehebel yachad. Put both together in one scale, and truth in the opposite, and both will kick the beam. They weigh nothing, they avail nothing.
Trust not in oppression - Do not suppose that my unnatural son and his partisans can succeed.
Become not vain in robbery - If ye have laid your hands on the spoils of my house, do not imagine that these ill-gotten riches will prosper. God will soon scatter them to all the winds of heaven. All oppressors come to an untimely end; and all property acquired by injustice has God's curse on it.
God hath spoken once - God has once addressed his people in giving the law on Mount Sinai. The Chaldee translates the whole passage thus: "God hath spoken one law, and twice have we heard this from the mouth of Moses the great scribe, that strength is before God: and it becomes thee, O God, to show mercy to the righteous; for thou renderest to man according to his works."
Twice have I heard this - Except some of the ancient Versions, almost every version, translation, and commentary has missed the sense and meaning of this verse. I shall set down the text: אחת דבר אלהים שתים זו שמעתי achath dibber Elohim; shetayim zu shamati; of which the true version is this: Once hath God spoken; these two things have I heard. Now what are the two things he had heard?
1. כי וז לאלהים ki oz lelohim, "That strength is the Lord's;" that is, He is the Origin of pourer.
2. ולך אדני חסד ulecha Adonai, chased; "and to thee, Lord, is mercy;" that is, He is the Fountain of mercy.
These, then, are the two grand truths that the law, yea, the whole revelation of God, declares through every page. He is the Almighty; he is the most merciful; and hence the inference: The powerful, just, and holy God, the most merciful and compassionate Lord, will by and by judge the world, and will render to man according to his works. How this beautiful meaning should have been unseen by almost every interpreter, is hard to say: these verses contain one of the most instructive truths in the Bible.