Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
The ascription of Psalm 63 speaks of “the desert of Idumaea,” which Augustine takes as a signal to treat the Psalm as an allegory for this world in general, because “Idumaea was a certain nation of men going astray, where idols were worshipped” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327897). There is great difficulty to be endured as we live in the desert of this world. Yet Augustine emphasizes the hope in the future, as God’s people will be satisfied in the life to come (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327906).
Verse one speaks of “watching.” Augustine emphasizes that we do not try to remain awake and vigilant at all times, as that can bring physical harm. However, we watch with our souls (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327906). Our souls must be wakeful and perceptive to God’s commands. They thirst for God, as in verse two. Augustine describes this thirst for God as a desire for wisdom, which will never satisfy us but will drive us to desire greater wisdom before God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327925). The soul will live on. The body may die and decay, but it also has a promise of resurrection, by which it will rise and flourish again (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327935). Augustine acknowledges, however, that even our physical needs, the needs for food, drink, money, and all the rest, are needs met by God. When we are in need, we cry out to God, knowing that all supply comes from Him (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327944).
The issue of thirsting in a desert is also significant to Augustine. He observes that in a desert there is no road or water (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327953). This is a doubly difficult environment, as it is easy to become disoriented and lost. As provision in the desert, God has raised up preachers, who guide our paths. Here, with the Psalmist in verse three, Augustine sees that God’s people look to Him, the holy one, who appears to his people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327963). Augustine expresses sorrow that people take the appearing of God the Son for granted or do not value his work. Especially those who are most in need of physical and spiritual provision cast off the reality of God in Christ (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327983). The mercy of God is better than the life we might pick for ourselves. Verse four then describes a good life, changed by God’s mercy. Our response, in vese five, is to lift up our hands in praise to God. Augustine notes this is a fitting response to the fact that Jesus stretched out his hands on a cross for us (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327992).
The vigiland life before God, once again, does not deprive us of rest. Verses 7-8 speak of resting in the God who is our help (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328012). The works of God are good works, says Augustine. These are to be done in the light, not concealed in the dark. Yet our good works are done under the shelter of the wings of God, as a hen shelters her chicks. God is the one who protects and equips his people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328021). For this reason, in verse nine, we are “glued on behind” God.
Those who are unwilling to seek God, in vese nine, “go unto the lower places of the earth.” Augustine takes these to be people who are unwiling to forego earthly lusts (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328040). In verse ten, destruction comes upon these people clearly and visibly. They are called, in this verse, foxes, which Augustine relates to the fact that Jesus called Herod a fox, someone who has no lasting place (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328060).