BARREN BUT NOT DESOLATE
Great is your faithfulness, O God; there is none like you. I trust in you, and you alone.
Read PSALM 63
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 lift 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.
- Psalm 63:1 In Hebrew texts 63:1-11 is numbered 63:2-12.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectRepeat Psalm 63:3 a few times, allowing its truth to mold your thinking.
David is in the wilderness. At a time when wilderness experiences have become something of a trend, we need to think what that meant then. David is not there by choice on some retreat or thrill-seeking escapade. He is being harried, probably by his own son Absalom. He is cut off from his usual comforts without knowing when or whether this will end. This is compounded by trying to understand where God is in all this.
Self-absorption or self-pity might be my first port of call, but David’s response is to look outward. The answers to his longing for security, sustenance, and satisfaction are found in ‘my God’ (v 1). We see ‘not the groping of a stranger feeling his way to God but the eagerness of a friend to be in touch with the one he holds dear.’* His thirst will not be quenched by anything else. He knows that from his past. He found satisfaction then, not in the luxuries of the palace or his kingly status but in God (vs 2,3,5). In his wilderness experiences of disturbed nights, he had turned his weary and troubled heart to God (v 6). By setting his heart on God he finds not just that he is clinging to God, but that God is holding him (v 8). And his ‘but the king’ (v 11) reference to himself speaks of hope. His time in the wilderness is not the final word.
What phrase from this psalm will remain with you?
Thank you, loving Father, that whether I am in a desert place or on a mountain top, you are with me. You never leave me or forsake me. Help me to remember and always to be mindful of your presence.
*Derek Kidner, quoted in JA Motyer, Psalms, New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition (IVP, 1994).
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