Psalm 63: I thirst for you
A psalm of David. When he was in the desert of Judah.
(1)You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
(2)I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
(3)Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
(4)I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will life up my hands.
(5)I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
(6)On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
(7)Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
(8)I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
(9)Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth.
(10)They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.
(11)But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him; while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
My Soul Thirsts for You. A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
David spent quite a bit of time in the “wilderness of Judah” (the Judean Desert), which is a desert of rolling, barren hills and deep ravines. The area must’ve had good hiding places for David, but I don’t think the conditions were five star.
Bible scholars are unsure if this Psalm was written prior to David becoming king when he was running for his life from Saul or later in life when David is king and briefly hides from the betrayal of his son Absalom.
1 Samuel 22-23 tells the story of David’s early exile in the Judean Desert. 2 Samuel 15-16 is the story of Absalom’s rebellion and David’s brief escape also into the Judean Desert.
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.
Psalm 63:1-5 NLT
The New King James version of the Bible translates verse one:
O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. NKJV
David starts his day early, and he starts it with God. David is a “man after God’s own heart,” God said so Himself (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). The reminder of this, that God said this about David, should cause us to desire a similar relationship. So let’s be like David and seek God first thing in the morning.
“Observe the eagerness implied with the time mentioned; he will not wait for noon or the cool eventide; he is up at cockcrowing to meet his God.”
–Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Pastor Sandy Adams says this in his sermon on Psalm 63:
“It’s said that man can live 40 days without food. He can live 3 days without water. He can live about 8 minutes without air. But he can’t live a single second without God.”
–Sandy Adams, http://www.throughtheword.org
While David hides in the hot, arid desert, there is nothing that he desires more than his God. May we seek our Father similarly. May we seek God earnestly, early in the morning. What a better way to begin our day, then with our Father first…before anything else becomes important.
Are you thirsty? Are you walking through a desert? Are you hiding in the wilderness? David might tell you that those are the places and times where the face of God is most evident and seen most clearly when your eyes and heart are open to Him.
My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.
Psalm 63:3 HCSB
David says that the Lord’s faithful love, His lovingkindness, His unfailing love, God’s hesed covenant love was more important to him than his own life. David would not last a second with God.
Can we say the same?
I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
Psalm 63:6-8 NLT
David begins his morning with God and meditates on his word in the night. I don’t imagine that David slept much. Whether he was twenty years old and hiding alone in a cave with the weight of worry on his shoulders or he was fifty and the weight of managing a kingdom and his son’s betrayal upon his heart. Many of David’s Psalms speak of this need for God first thing in the morning and at night while trying to sleep.
And not just “sometime in the night.” The ESV says:
When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.
There were probably three different “watches in the night.” Someone had to stay up and watch over the camp of sleeping individuals. David was awake during them all and using that time to speak with God and think about God.
That is probably something we can relate to. Do you see the “watches of the night” while you struggle to get comfortable enough or stop thinking and worrying long enough to close your eyes? Do you glance at the clock and see the times when three shift changes might have happened?
David did and his recommendation: meditate on God and His Word, think about Him.
God is our helper. God will give us joy even in the shadow of His wings. We can cling to Him during our dark days or nights, because He is strong and His hold is secure.
But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth. They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals. But the king will rejoice in God. All who swear to tell the truth will praise him, while liars will be silenced.
Psalm 63:9-11 NLT
David sought God out for comfort and defense, but he still had men seeking to kill him. Whether he was facing Saul and all the king’s men or Absalom and his rebellion of tens of thousands of soldiers, David was still worried and afraid. He was still hiding. He was still far from home.
This section of verses is a prophecy of sorts. David knew that God would be faithful to His promises. David just needed to wait. In either case of the timeline, God did provide David safety, defense, and victory. Saul died by the sword, his own sword, actually. Those who followed Saul perished and were “food for jackals;” the scavengers of the middle east. Absalom died by the spear and some twenty thousand of his followers on the battlefield, also food for scavengers.
God was faithful to David.
Whatever the circumstances, these verses are David expressing his faith in God’s deliverance. In God’s time, David would be defended and reinstated as the chosen king of Israel.
David had great faith in an even greater God.
In David’s song it is clear that in the midst of suffering he will still rejoice in God. While he waits for God, he will praise Him and glorify Him and trust in Him. Strength of arms? Didn’t matter and not enough. Strength of will? Not even a thing in these scary circumstances. Strength in a good, all-powerful, faithful God? Absolutely and always.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 ESV
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5 ESV
I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NIV
Father in heaven, thank you for being by our side in the early morning and through the watches of the night. Thank you for being our strength and help in time of need. Thank you for your promises and unfailing love throughout time; for David and us. We love you and praise you today. Bless us and watch over us. Give us strength for today. Amen.