The superscription to Psalm 63 informs us that this psalm is penned by David while he was in the wilderness. There were two times that we read about David running in the wilderness for his life. Once was when Saul was king and he was trying to kill David. The other time was when David was king and his son Absalom was chasing him for his life. In this psalm we see David refer to himself as the king, so this psalm was likely penned during the time when Absalom was seeking David’s life and David had fled to the wilderness. This background will help us understand the pain David is experiencing as he is separated from the city of Jerusalem.
I. Longing For God (63:1)
A. Appetite described
- David begins by describing his appetite for the things of God. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you.” We are going to read about how David is not passively content with God. David is earnestly seeking after God. In this first verse, David tries to describe the nature of David’s seeking.
- David takes the imagery of his surrounding environment, “in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” David uses his physical environment to describe the spiritual condition God desires from his people. David does not describe his physical needs, but uses his physical needs to represent his spiritual need for God.
- “My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you.” David pictures an intense longing for God. How often we do not realize what our souls are longing and desiring! We think that the void in our lives is coming from other problems. We think that we need a new car, more money, and some other new toy to fill the void we feel. We think that if our relationships with our spouses, children, or parents will fill the void we feel. We think that if we had a better job we would be happier and our void would be filled. David does not make this mistake. He does not say that if he were back in Jerusalem everything would be fine. David says that the only thing that can fill the void in life is a close relationship with God.
- Too often we are looking in the wrong places for fulfillment in this world. We think that we can find satisfaction in other things. This is why we can be so spiritually weak. This is why we can struggle so much while living on this earth. We fail to see that the void is only going to be filled by God. Isn’t interesting that everything we think will fill the void never does? Have we never noticed that the thing that we think is missing our lives continues to change into different things? If it was not the car that would make me happy, it would be a better job. So we get a better job, but that doesn’t fix it. So we move, we get married, we get divorced, and yet nothing has changed. So we try all of these other things and we continue to feel the same void. It is a void that only a deep relationship with God can fill.
- There is a longing and thirsting that is inside every individual. We cannot be blinded to think that God is not what we are looking for to be satisfied. We want to deny this possibility and continue to delude ourselves into thinking that surely God is not the answer. I did the same walk in my life but found that God is truly the place for contentment and satisfaction.
II. Satisfaction In God
A. Time with God
- David longingly reflects back upon the time when he is able to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and worship Him. David thinks back upon seeing the glory and power of God.
- Quite simply, David is reflecting back to the times he was able to spend with God and thinks upon that time longingly. How do we think about our worship time with God? Do we think of having to go to Bible classes? Do we think of having to come to worship services? Do we think of having to read our Bibles? Do we have to prepare for Sunday and Wednesday Bible studies? Do we have to lead a prayer, teach a class, serve the Lord’s Supper, or participate in some other fashion? David describes joy to be part of the formal worship in the sanctuary of God. This is one way we can see if our souls truly thirst and hunger for God. David does not describe spending time with God as a chore.
B. God’s love is better than life
- David’s second point to show that he has found satisfaction in God is describing God’s love for him. What David says expresses very strong emotions toward God: “your love is better than life.” This Hebrew word for love is the same word we have seen used in many of the psalms. This word describes God’s faithful, covenant love. This word for “love” pictures God keeping his word and keeping his promises. David knows God’s promise to him to be king of Israel and David put his trust in God for deliverance from the wilderness.
- Now look at the whole sentence: “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory because your love is better than life.” I believe David is stating the reason for his desire to worship God. David says that there is nothing better in life than God’s love. Again, this returns us to David’s theme of satisfaction being found in the Lord. In all the activities of life you will not find contentment. I loved the recent Today Show segment helping people to live out their dreams. People were going to exotic locations on the earth and doing some really fun things. But then what are you going to do with your life? Now that it has been done, do you think the void in your life will be filled? Is sleeping in this morning giving you life long satisfaction? Activities for God are far better than any of life’s activities.
- David describes the depth of satisfaction that can be found in the Lord in verses 4-5. The worship, praising, and singing to the Lord is described as deep satisfaction to David. David is being sustained by the Lord.
- In view of God’s great love, why do we spend so much time trying to find satisfaction elsewhere. Why would we try to be satisfied by the physical things in this world? We spend too much time seeking after the physical things of life and never enough time seeking the spiritual things of God.
- When we are actively and diligently seeking after the things of God, we will find ourselves near to God, even when we are suffering. Remember that David is on the run, being attacked by his own son. But David is able to “sing in the shadow of your wings.” Further, David says “my soul clings to you and your right hand upholds me.” This is a confidence for our lives and brings strength to our faith. God is with us and he never will break his promises. God can pick us up even in terribly depressing and difficult times. David is experiencing this closeness with God.
III. Vindication By God (63:9-11)
A. God comes through
- Probably the best way to describe the final verses of this psalm is to say that God comes through. We cannot miss how David repeatedly ends his psalms with the full confidence that God is going to answer his prayer and show mercy toward him. Further, David always expresses the knowledge that vindication will be brought against his enemies.
- The enemies will be destroyed. They will go to the pits of the earth. They will be given to the sword. No one will stand when God bring his righteous justice and judgments.
- The final picture is that in the midst of this world’s disappointments we can still be satisfied. During the hard times we have God’s right hand to hold us up. We will not find such help anywhere else. We can fret and worry, plunging ourselves into a fit of despair, but none of these things help nor change the outcome. God can change things and we are able to rely on his right hand, a right hand that acts on behalf of his people.
- But we need to develop the longing that David expresses. We cannot expect God to rescue out of the blue sky. We need to draw near to God and nurture and thirst for God. It is interesting that David said what Jesus commanded: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus also said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37).
- One way to develop the longing is to realize that nothing else is going to satisfy. Working will not. Other relationships will not. Money will not. Possessions will not. Nothing is going to satisfy. So let us fill the void placed within us by seeking God.
- Finally, expect an answer from God. Expect vindication against the enemies. Expect justice. Expect God to take care of you. Expect God to uphold you with his right hand.