Mar. 26, 2020

What Are You Doing With Your Power? Psalm 62

This is a psalm of David consisting of 12 verses. The psalm may be divided into three sections or divisions. Some commentators believe David wrote this during the time that his son Absalom rebelled against him. David was extremely distressed. To have your child turn against you is a very deep wound. When a child of yours that you have raised, nurtured, cared for, provided for and sacrificed for turns against you it creates an intense pain. David was possibly experiencing that kind of anguish at the writing of this psalm.

Psalm 62:1-4 New Living Translation. This is the first division of the psalm.

I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken.

So many enemies against one man—
    all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
    or a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
    They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
    but curse me in their hearts. 

 Other people who David employed, trusted and provided for sided with and supported Absalom in his rebellion. Because of this David experienced layers of betrayal. Here David expresses that God is the only one he can fully rely on. God is the only one who will never plot against him. God is the only one David can look to as his Protector and Defender.

The second division of this Psalm consists of verses 5-8.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,

    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge. 

 In these verses David uses several metaphors to describe the Lord and His characteristics. He expresses the Lord’s stability, protection and strength. He is my Rock, my Fortress, my Defense, my Salvation. The Lord God is my place of Safety.

For most of us it is easy to defend and strengthen ourselves against an unrelated enemy. Our strategy is different when opposing an enemy with whom we don’t have a relationship. Against a random stranger we can pull out all the stops and launch our most devastating attack. But what about when the person holding the knife in your back is a close relative or a former confidante? David loved Absalom and respected Abner. Abner was a mighty warrior who had served in battle with David. At the time of David’s distress, Abner had joined forces with and was advising Absalom against David.

David loved his son and refused to retaliate against him. At first he did nothing to squash Absalom’s rebellion. Eventually Joab, who was David’s nephew and the captain of his army, and his men did engage in conflict with Absalom and those who followed him. David gave strict instructions that Absalom was not to be injured (II Samuel 18:12).

David was a formidable foe and he had defeated many in battle. But his heart was tender toward his son. This was his beloved son. How could he lay aside his heart stirrings and wage war against his own flesh and blood?

 The last section of the psalm includes verses 9-12.

 Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind,

    and the powerful are not what they appear to be.
If you weigh them on the scales,
    together they are lighter than a breath of air.

10 Don’t make your living by extortion
    or put your hope in stealing.
And if your wealth increases,
    don’t make it the center of your life.

11 God has spoken plainly,
    and I have heard it many times:
Power, O God, belongs to you;
12     unfailing love, O Lord, is yours.
Surely you repay all people
    according to what they have done.

 In these final verses David expresses that basically all people are the same regardless of their social or economic situation. He warns against taking advantage of others. David advises the value of getting and keeping a correct perspective about power and wealth. We all have some power and some influence. It is a grave responsibility to use them wisely. Almost daily we see where people in authority misused their influence to increase their own standing and to decrease someone else’s. Verse 12 is a reminder that we reap what we sow.

David had the ability and the means to totally halt Absalom’s revolt. But he didn’t. David could have quickly crushed Absalom and all his followers. But he didn’t because he loved his son. He didn’t because David didn’t want his reign as king to be forever tainted with the shedding of his son’s blood. David’s hopes and prayers were that Absalom would realize his error, beg his father’s forgiveness and submit to David’s leadership.

Absalom, no doubt, felt justified in his attempt to overthrow his father and set up his own kingdom. Absalom’s sister had been raped and rejected by one of David’s other sons. David was angry but did nothing to restore Tamar (the sister) or punish Amnon, the offender. An unhealed wound continues to fester. Absalom hated Amnon but never said anything to him about his crime. But Absalom’s heart was black with the hatred of revenge toward Amnon. Absalom plotted and planned and two years after the attack against Tamar Absalom arranged and facilitated Amnon’s murder. (II Samuel 13). David’s lack of action in this situation prompted Absalom to take matters into his own hands. Absalom also knew that David would not make any drastic moves against him. Absalom may have felt that his father had become soft, weak and indecisive in his latter years. He probably thought that the kingdom needed someone more prone to decisiveness and action…like himself. However, for many reasons, Absalom’s quest ended tragically. He was killed and never fully realized his plans of kingship. The primary reason is because David was the one God chose to be king over Israel. No one could have displaced him.

 It is evident that David made a lot of mistakes. We all do. But somehow God had communicated to David that even though he had the ability to wield his power against any opposers he did not have free reign to do so.

 Psalm 62:11 God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongs unto God.

 As shown above, the NLT states verse 11 this way:

11 God has spoken plainly,
    and I have heard it many times:
Power, O God, belongs to you;

 God has afforded each one of us power and ability to accomplish some things. But power belongs to God. In the eyes of many David appeared unnaturally placid. His lack of action during this time of rebellion seemed untimely. If you are already king, you don’t have to prove it. Instead of displaying his power, David chose patience, humility, restraint and prayer. We may be afforded the opportunity to demonstrate the same wisdom and spare someone’s feelings, reputation, livelihood or even their life. What are you doing with your power?