Psalm 63:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee, or is glued to thee. We follow close at the Lord's heels, because we are one with him. Who shall divide us from his love? If we cannot walk with him with equal footsteps, we will at least follow after with all the strength he lends us, earnestly panting to reach him and abide in his fellowship. When professors follow hard after the world, they will fall into the ditch; but none are ever too eager after communion with the Lord.

Thy right hand upholdeth me. Else he would not have followed the Lord with constancy, or even have longed after him. The divine power, which has so often been dwelt upon in this and the preceding Psalms, is here mentioned as the source of man's attachment to God. How strong are we when the Lord works in us by his own right hand, and how utterly helpless if he withhold his aid!

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. This is the language of a good man in his worst frames; for when he has lost his nearness to God, he will be uneasy till he has again obtained it, and will follow after it with all his might. It is also his language in his best frames; for when he knows and enjoys most of God, he wants to know and enjoy more. But it may especially be considered as the language of an afflicted and seeking soul, not sinking under its burden, but earnestly breathing after deliverance, and supported by the prospect of obtaining it. Hence it follows, Thy right hand upholdeth me... I shall consider what is implied in the soul's following hard after God, and then enquire the reason of it.

  1. Following hard after God supposes,
    1. A previous acquaintance with him. An unknown good, be it ever so desirable in itself, cannot be the object of desire. Hence, when God shines into the heart, it is to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, as the foundation of all gracious exercises, and especially as the source of all fervent desires after him.
    2. Following hard after God is expressive of ardent and intense desires. It does not consist in cold and languid wishes, but insatiable longings after communion with God and conformity to his will.
    3. It implies laborious exertion. My soul followeth, it followeth hard after thee. Not earth nor heaven merely is the object of pursuit, but God himself. And the desires of a truly renewed soul are not sluggish and ineffectual; they lead him to the use of all appointed means, and to the exertion of his utmost endeavours till the object be attained.
    4. Perseverance in seeking. To follow implies this, and to follow hard implies it more strongly. It is as if the psalmist had said, "Does God retire? I will pursue. Does he withhold the blessing? I will wrestle with him till I obtain it. He long waited to be gracious, and I will now wait till he is so."
    5. We are to enquire the reason why David thus followed hard after God.
    6. Guilt and distress followed hard after him.
    7. His enemies also followed hard after him. Satan did so, and once and again caused him to stumble and fall.
    8. He had followed hard after other things to no purpose.
    9. We may add the powerful attractions of divine grace. Condensed from Benjamin Beddome's Sermon, "The Christian's Pursuit," in "Short Discourses,"

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. kyrha hqbd The primary sense of qbd is agglutinavit, to glue together; from thence it signifies figuratively to associate, to adhere to, to be united with; and particularly to be firmly united with strong affection. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, wyfak qbdw, and cleave to his wife;" properly, be closely united and compacted with his wife, with the most permanent affection. Genesis 2:24 . The psalmist, therefore, means that his soul adhered to God with the warmest affection, and longed to offer up his sacrifice of praise in his sanctuary. Samuel Chandler.

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. tqkd, adhaesit, adherescit anima mea post te: My soul cleaves after thee, as do things which hang by another; the root is of so great frequency in Scripture, as of enquiry amongst critics; it imports here the posture of David's spirit, and speaketh it close to God; and so depending upon him, as nothing could loosen it from him: Satan's subtlety, Saul's cruelty, his own personal loss and indemnity, are not all of them of any force or dexterity, to cut asunder or untie the Gordian knot of this unity. The cleaving of David's spirit was a gluing of the Lord's spirit: a marriage of the Lord's making is altogether incapable of the devil's breaking. It is no wonder David's words report him so much devoted to God, seeing with the same breath they speak him supported by God; Thy right hand upholdeth me, saith he. Alexander Pringle, in "A Stay in Trouble; or the Saint's Rest in the Evil Day," 1657.

Verse 8. My soul followeth hard after thee. The original is kyrxa yfkg My soul cleaves after thee. As if he had said, Go, lead on, my God! Behold, I follow as near, as close, as I can; e vestigio; I would not leave any distance, but pursue thy footsteps, step by step, leaning upon thine everlasting arms, that are underneath me, and following thy manuduction. John Gibbon, in "The Morning Exercises," 1661.

Verse 8. The soul's following, and following hard after God -- what means this? Surely it intends much more than a languid, inert inclination; or "the desire of the slothful which killeth him, because his hands refuse to labour." It evinces an intenseness of concern that quickens and rouses the man into life and earnestness; that draws his very soul along with it; that reconciles him to every needful exertion and sacrifice, however trying; and urges him to persevere, whatever difficulties or discouragements he meets with in his course. And sometimes the distance is long, and the progress up hill, and the road rough, and the weather unfriendly, and enemies would thrust us back; and sometimes we lose sight of him, and ask those we meet: "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" and when we spy him again, he seems to advance as we advance, and when we gain upon him and get nearer, he seems to look back and frown, and tell us to retire. The exercises and feelings of Christians in the divine life will enable them to explain these allusions. Who among them all has not, like the Jews, been sometimes "discouraged because of the way?" Who has not resembled Barak's adherents -- "Faith, yet pursuing?" Who has not frequently said, My soul followeth hard after thee? William Jay.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8.

  1. The soul's pursuit after God. It follows,
    1. In desire.
    2. In action.
    3. Earnestly.
    4. Quickly.
    5. Closely.
    6. The soul's support. Thy right hand upholdeth
      me, the arm of strength. In doing and bearing. G. J. K.

Verse 8. "A mighty hunter before the Lord."

  1. The object of pursuit: Thee.
  2. The manner of pursuit: Hard after.
  3. The dangers encountered. J. S. B.

Verse 8. (second clause). God's right hand upholds his people three ways.

  1. As to sin; lest they should fall by it.
  2. As to suffering; lest they should sink under it.
  3. As to duty; lest they should decline from it. W. Jay.