David in the Wilderness: Psalm 63 (part 9)

“My soul cleaves behind you;

your right hand takes hold of me.”

(Psalm 63:9 {Psalm 63:8})

 

As David is reflecting on his dependence on God’s strong hand of defense, he switches to a different, but related metaphor.  In the previous verse, he employs the imagery of being a chick under a mother eagle’s wings; here, the imagery is that of a timid child, clinging for protection to his father’s leg.  He begins this verse with the language of his soul or his spirit clinging or cleaving to God, yet doing so from behind.  Many of our English translations do not do a good job of bringing this out, but the Hebrew clearly suggests that the clinging is done as if he is coming up on God from the rear—just as a child hides behind their parent’s leg for protection when they perceive danger. 

The next verse reflects the response of God to his action—God’s right hand takes hold of him.  The Hebrew word that is used here is the term $m;t’ (tamak), which reflects the idea of grabbing hold of something firmly and not letting go.  In addition, it is important to be reminded that the language of the right hand reflected the idea of strength and might—in other words, with God’s hand of power, he grabs hold of David to provide that protection.  In addition, we need to understand that the idea of “soul” for the Hebrew reflected the idea of his whole life and the entirety of his being.  Sometimes vp,n< (nephesh) is translated as “life” (Genesis 9:5) or even the idea of  “personality” (Leviticus 26:30).  In other words, David is not speaking only of spiritual matters in the context of this verse and the metaphor he is employing, but that of the entirety of his life.

Beloved, so often we like to imagine ourselves as being the strong hero pressing against the storms—you know the picture, the man in the cowboy had and duster bent down as he fights his way forward against the wind and driving rain.  Yet, loved ones, this is not the Biblical model.  There are no lone cowboys in the body of Christ and none of us can stand alone against the storms—if we try we will fail.  The Biblical picture is that which David is painting for us here—we are children clinging for safety to our Father’s leg, and with his strong hand he leads us.  Oh, what a contrast there is between the way we like to perceive ourselves and the way God perceives us.  Oh, how much foolishness we engage in when we get that perception wrong.  Beloved, cling to the leg of your heavenly Father—his strong hand will hold you during times of trouble.

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