The Fathers on Psalm 63

This post is part of an ongoing series offering translations of various early Church father’s commentaries on the Psalms.

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God—
it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns;
for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless,
and without water.
I look to you in the sanctuary
to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life;
my lips shall ever praise you!

I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall be sated as with choice food,
with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!
I think of you upon my bed,
I remember you through the watches of the night
You indeed are my savior,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life will come to ruin;
they shall go down to the depths of the netherworld!
Those who would hand over my life to the sword shall
become the prey of jackals!
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by the Lord shall exult,
but the mouths of liars will be shut!

Athanasius: “If when you are harassed you run to the desert, do not be afraid as though you are alone there. But having God there, get up at dawn and sing to him Psalm 63.”[1]

Pseudo-Athanasius: David sings this psalm, begging God for his aid through the virtue of his character. But it refers to the soul that was in the desert—that is, in deprivation of everything good—and that later turned to God, with the support of his right hand. And he indicates this by saying: O God, you are my God—it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. My soul thirsted for you and my flesh desired you, as the thirty land desires water. For it is right for us to be concerned not only with the virtues of the soul, but also with the things of the body. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory so that thus we may be in the sanctuary of God and see the power and glory of his only-begotten son and praise him with lips of rejoicing. But those who seek my life will come to ruin; they shall go down to the depths of the netherworld! For he handed over to eternal torments (as in the lower regions of the earth) those who vainly wished to seize our soul. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by the Lord shall exult, but the mouths of liars will be shut! But the people who believed in him and called him king—because he reigned over sin and death—he permitted to spiritually delight in him. He is also praised because he affirms with an oath that Christ is the true God. For he arose on the third day and shut the mouth of the evil-speakers, as it is said somewhere: Every wickedness will shut its mouth.[2]


[1] Benjamin Wayman. Make the Words Your Own: An Early Christian Guide to the Psalms (Brewster, M.A.: Paraclete Press: 2014), 76.

[2] Syriac CSCO 387, SYRI 168 V, pg 38. Cx. PG 27 for Latin and Greek. Reference to Psalm 106:42 (LXX)

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