Day 138: A Tottering Fence (Psalm 62)

62 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 not be greatly shaken.

3 How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

Psalm 62:1-3

Through the Bible reading plan: Psalm 26, 40, 58, 61, 62, 64

Yesterday, we read about how, when David fled Jerusalem at the start of Absalom’s coup, a random Benjamite named Shimei threw stones at him and cursed him. 2 Samuel 16:6-7 reads,

“And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!”

In today’s reading, Psalm 62 seems to be about this part of David’s life. If it is, I have to chuckle a little at the double meaning of verse 2: David writes that “God alone is my rock… I shall not be greatly shaken.” In other words, these little rocks Shimei threw at David weren’t going to shake him, because when God is your one and only rock, the rocks thrown by others don’t faze you.

Except when they do. No matter how solid your faith in God your rock might be, the little petty criticisms from others inevitably get to you. Maybe that’s why David goes on to write,

“How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?” Psalm 62:3 ESV

There is a lot of variation among English translations of this verse, because it isn’t clear who David is saying is like a “leaning wall or a tottering fence.”  Was it David himself or his enemies? King James took it to mean David’s enemies: “How long will you attack a man? You shall be slain, all of you, Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.”

The NIV, though, makes it sound as though David is describing himself: “How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down– this leaning wall, this tottering fence?”

Other translations acknowledge that the Hebrew is ambiguous, so they make it a generic third person:  “How long will you assail a man, That you may murder him, all of you, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?” (ESV, NASB, CSB all go this route).

Knowing what we know about where David is at this point, I think David is describing himself. David is dealing with all the consequences of that sin. He’s battered and broken down like an old wall or rickety fence. He’s being attacked from all sides: his son, Absalom, his most trusted advisor Ahithophel, even random passers-by like Shimei.

But what I love about the Psalm in context is that there’s a bigger reality that trumps how David feels. He might feel like a leaning wall and tottering fence. His enemies might even believe that themselves— “Let’s attack when he is at his most vulnerable.”

But David also expresses the truth:

  • God alone is my rock and my salvation (v2, v6)
  • He is my hope (v5).
  • He is My fortress,
  • My salvation,
  • My glory;
  • My mighty rock.
  • My refuge (vs 5-7).

Beloved, when we feel most defenseless, know that the Lord has never been more secure. Hide behind your own flimsy fence, and you are vulnerable. Take shelter in God as your fortress, and you will never be shaken.


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