Commentary on Psalms (42 - 89)
© by Francis Foulkes
& Cyril Okorocha


"1. For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2. He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

3. How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you,
as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4. Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse. Selah

5. For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6. He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7. On God rests my deliverance and my honour;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

8. Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

9. Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10. Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11. Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12. and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all according to their work."

This Psalm begins and ends with God. In fact in the beginning and at the end and in the middle reason is given why people should "trust in him at all times".

Confidence in God in the face of difficulties

Verses 1-2 and then verses 5-6 speak of God, as a number of the Psalms have done, as a "rock", a "fortress". " My refuge is in God", verse 7 adds. "Salvation" here means being rescued from the powers of evil that threaten. It is like what the apostle Paul could say, even when he faced imprisonment and death for his faith, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever" (2 Timothy 4:18). The psalmist was surrounded by those who professed to bless when "inwardly they curse". "They take pleasure in falsehood", he said. In fact they wanted to "batter (their) victim", who was like "a leaning wall, a tottering fence", so that they would bring him down finally to the ground. Although these enemies were so strong and threatening to the psalmist, yet he could say that he would "leave it all quietly with God" (as Moffatt translates verse 1). Because he did this he could say with confidence, "I shall never be shaken" (see also Psalms 16:8 and 46:5).

Confidence in God rather than in human power and wealth

There are ways in which we have to trust other people, and often we are helped by the support that our friends give us, and we in turn should offer that kind of help to those around us who are in need. But in the deepest sense our trust must be in God and not in other people. All human beings are frail, and we all often fail, even to do the kindness that we intend to do for others. This is the point of verse 9 when it says that in comparison with God people are "like a puff of breath ----. Put them on the scales and they weigh nothing, they are lighter than a mere breath" (Good News Bible). Compare with this what is said in Psalm 118:8-9, Isaiah 40:6-8 and in the New Testament in James 4:14. Some people trust in what they can take violently from others, or wrongly by "extortion". But even if riches are earned honestly, it is foolish to trust in them instead of in the living and unchanging God (verse 10).

Confidence in God because of his power and love

Proverbial sayings among the Hebrew people were often expressed by saying "Once -- twice", or "three times -- four times" (Amos 1:3), and the like. God's word had come to the psalmist a number of times and in a number of ways (verse 11). That word from God was consistent and reliable (Compare what is said about God's word in Mark 13:31 and 1 Peter 1:24-25.) That word told what God is like, and, like God, is utterly dependable. We need always to remember the three things that are said about God in verses 11-12.

a. "Power belongs to God".

b. He is not only powerful, but "steadfast love" is his nature and character. We can trust God to help in all our needs and in every situation in life because he is both all-mighty and all-loving. Humans may seem powerful. Demonic and occult forces may seem powerful, powerful and evil. God is powerful and loving.

c. He is also just, and he knows when people are acting unjustly and oppressively. "You repay to all according to their work". That should humble us all, because all of us are guilty of doing what is sinful in God's sight, but when we turn to him in repentance, he forgives and restores us to his blessing.

Meditation: "Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

For further thought and study

a. How do you understand the two ways of prayer of which this Psalm speaks, waiting on God in silence (verse 1) and pouring out our hearts to God (verse 8)? Do you find that both have a place in your praying? See what Jesus teaches about prayer in Matthew 6:3-8, and Paul's teaching in Romans 8:26-27 and Ephesians 6:18.

b. Compare the words of verse 10 with what is said about the foolishness of trust in riches in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 12:13-21. How do such passages apply to people who are poor as well as people who are rich in earthly possessions? What does it mean to be "rich towards God" (Luke 12:21)?


  1. In the heading of the psalm "according to Jeduthun" probably refers to a tune to which the psalm was sung. Jeduthun was one of those who assisted in the music of worship in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16:41-42).
  2. One particular feature of this psalm as it was written originally in the Hebrew language is that it repeats six times a little word that emphasises what is said. Our translation has "only" or "alone" in verses 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 to bring out the emphasis.