“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.” (Psalms 63:1–11 ESV)
This psalm of David is not just a corporate song, but is intensely personal as well. David writes this when he is a refugee, on the run for his life either from Saul (1 Samuel 23:14-15, 24:1) or from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:23-28). It is more likely that it was written during his time fleeing from Absalom because He refers to himself as king in 63:11 and he also uses the same Hebrew word here as in 2 Samuel 16:14. The Hebrew word (key 5889 }aœyeœph) means “weary,” “exhausted,” or “faint.” Regardless of the time, he is hard pressed on every side, oppressed, tired and constantly looking over his shoulder. Simple pleasures and luxuries are nowhere to be found. David sees that the presence of God supersedes all earthly comforts & concerns. So much so that he uses language that displays a desperation for God’s presence more than his deliverance. He needs God as much as he needs food or water. The question is, why don’t we desire God this way? Is it because we are so distracted and have never really tasted His goodness? Is it because life is so good that we don’t really see a need for Him?
David finds profound confidence in His times of trouble, a confidence that every soul longs for. When life is difficult, it has the ability to push aside the periphery things that distract and cause us to have laser focus on ultimate things. David sees that being in the presence of God, in His sanctuary, is a gift that He eagerly longs to partake in. He knows that the steadfast love of God and being in His presence is better than life itself. David recalls corporate worship as they are called to behold the power and glory of the LORD. As we behold God’s glory, we become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18), Moses asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18) and he shone with the glory of the LORD because he had been in God’s presence (Exodus 34:34). There is something about being in the presence of the LORD when He reveals His glory to us that changes us; it marks us, it enables us to say (with David) that His “steadfast love is better than life.” We should do everything that we can to get in His presence. It is only through beholding the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are transformed over time into more accurate image bearers. As we see Him more clearly, the Spirit sanctifies us more completely (Gen. 1:26–27; 2 Cor. 4:4; 5:17; also 1 John 3:2)
We have to ask, “do we have an insatiable hunger and thirst for God?” Why not? Is it because we’ve not partaken of Him in a way that has touched our souls deeply? Is it because our faith has been largely intellectual? Is it because we have rarely or ever seen His glory? Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to believe. Show us your glory, fill us with your Spirit, give us believing hearts! We don’t have the power to do this on our own – we are utterly dependent upon you!
Only an abiding relationship with God provides complete soul satisfaction. David likens his satiated soul to that of being full after a fine meal (verse 5). David remembers God and meditates upon His goodness not just in the sanctuary, but everywhere in His life. What a gift, Lord please give us this gift of seeing you more clearly and desiring you more fully. Satisfaction & safety are found in the presence of God as David proclaims “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalms 63:8 ESV). God’s purposes always prevail, He wins. We can trust in that!