What glories we have glimpsed this summer in the Psalms! We have marveled at the portrait of the Perfect Man in Psalm 1. We looked at how God has revealed Himself to man and man’s correct response to that revelation in Psalm 19. A model of godly repentance challenged us in Psalm 51. We saw confidence and security in the Lord expressed in Psalms 16 and 27. Grateful praise rang from Psalm 145. We realized how much we long to raise that praise in a tabernacle not made with hands as we joined the pilgrims in Psalm 122.
Last week, Rob Price led us through Psalm 2, the Psalm of Messiah the Prince. He helped us see that, since the beginning, Jew and gentile, kings and religious rulers, as well as those they rule, have been in rebellion against God and His Anointed. God is not flustered by this because He has always had a plan and is bringing it to fruition in His time. Most glorious of all, in the meantime, God continues to extend grace to any rebel king or commoner who will come to Him by the Son.
Don Allen has chosen Psalm 63 for us this week. We will see a king who has kissed the Son. Psalm 63 is subtitled “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” We are not told which time or from whom he is running. Though he is likely hard pressed, we do not hear him cry out for deliverance or vengeance or even provision. Rather, he has chosen the one necessary thing (Luke 10:41-42). But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33. This king loves his heavenly ruler beyond anything else and he expresses it in so many ways.
J. Vernon McGee relates that Chrysostom, an early church father, said that it had been ordained and decreed upon by the primitive fathers that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm, and in the primitive church this psalm was sung every morning or every time there was a public gathering. Dr. McGee finds this psalm a medicine for all sorts of ills. It may be that this psalm is a true remedy for the dis-ease of immersion in our current culture, as sick, idolatrous and rebellious as any fourth-century city. Perhaps we need to return to daily doses of this great psalm.
Read Psalm 63 slowly. Savor each line. What kind of relationship is being described? Can you see words that speak of how strong his longing is for the One he calls his God? In the first verse, he likens his longing to the immediate, life-endangering thirst. We have few things as needful as water. The desert sucks us dry and chafes our skins with drying, gritty winds, and we do faint if water cannot be found. What of the soul-destroying, God-hating influences to which we are all subject? What do you see around you that parches your heart if you stay too long listening to its siren song? Have you perhaps been too long away from the true source of life and succumbed to some counterfeit promise of worldly bliss? How thirsty is your soul?
Verse three asserts that God’s steadfast love is better than life. The Hebrew reads “lives.” In fact, David has led many lives: simple shepherd, warrior, minstrel to the king, target of the king’s madness, fugitive among the Philistines, king himself, adulterer and murderer, penitent, target of his son’s desire to be king himself over David’s body, and always a man after God’s own heart. But he can say that no sort of life in this world compares with God’s lovingkindness, not even being alive physically. Can we say that? Is there some life we have or want that is dearer to us than God? We fall so easily into “I wish” or “look at that person” of “if I only had….” We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us see such stumbling blocks and lead us to repentance.
In verse 5 we again see reference to something spiritual expressed in a physical way. His soul is satisfied as with rich and fat food. Think of all the invitations you see around you to satisfy yourself with rich food, fun drinks, exciting entertainments each promising to be greater than the last. As king, or even in the king’s court, I’m sure David had ample opportunities to taste the best his culture could offer. Now any commoner can have almost anything only the rich and noble could have had in David’s day. Which enticements do you find beckoning you most strongly? Can any of us say with David that God is the satisfaction we earnestly crave? What do we still want more than Him?
As a last stop on this quick tour, look at verse 8. “My soul clings to You.” King James: “My soul followeth hard after thee.” Augustine translates this: “My soul has been glued on behind You.” This way God always goes ahead, the proper relationship toward our great Lord. Do you long to be so fastened to Him that you never come loose? Is there still some desire to go ahead, go your own way? We are certainly prone to such desires. Through the finished work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit such desires can be cleansed. We can aspire to be like David in this Psalm, mature and God-focused, rejoicing in God alone, confident that no evil can harm us since we are glued firmly, following closely, looking forward to the end of this desert journey. Amen.
Resources: Spurgeon, Treasury of David, (This website is sometimes unavailable—Suggest the alternate below. It takes you to Verse 1 of Psalm 2 with links to the next verse.)
Bible Gateway, dozens of Bible translations, www.biblegateway.com
J. Vernon McGee, Psalms Volume II, Thru the Bible Books, Pasadena, CA
MP3s and other materials available at www.ttb.org
Exposition of Psalm 63(Augustine)
Sons of Korah, Desert Prayer– Psalm 63