Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 19 2019 - Psalm 63 – Longing for God

David, we are told, is the author of this lovely psalm. From its content it seems to have been written during the time when Absalom sought to overthrow his father David and appoint himself as king. To save the city from warfare and bloodshed David left Jerusalem with a number of his men and made for the river Jordan before crossing it and heading north through arid desert lands.

As David rests, perhaps on the second night of his flight, he recalls precious times of worship he had enjoyed in Jerusalem. There, in the worshiping community of God's people in the tabernacle, and in the presence of the living God, he had been deeply conscious of God's power and glory. But now he is far from home and the parched land around him seems to reflect the feeling of his own heart: "I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water" (v.1). He longs to be restored to Jerusalem and to know again the delight of worship in the presence of God.

But David knows that while he can be separated from Jerusalem and the visible signs of God's presence, he cannot be separated from God himself. He may have exchanged a splendid palace and a comfortable bed for a cave in the desert with its rough and rocky floor but he can declare:

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me. (vv. 6-8)

David uses the lovely image of a mother bird protecting her chicks as a picture of God's care for him (as he had done also in Psalm 61:4). He turns his broken nights of sleep to advantage by thinking of all that God has done for him: God had chosen him, a humble shepherd boy, to be king over his people. He remembers the rich banquets which he enjoyed in his palace in Jerusalem but does not miss them – they might fatten his body but they could not sustain his soul so he says:

I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (v. 5)

David is satisfied with God himself, God's love and care, God's goodness and mercy which he was confident would follow him all the days of his life (as he said in Psalm 23). He is confident his present plight will not last. God will deal with those who are seeking to kill him and he, the king, will rejoice in God (v. 11). God always has the final word.

How do we react when we face times of stress, times when many of the things we formerly took for granted and enjoyed are taken from us? Are all of our energies thrown into trying to recover what we have lost or is our first thought to seek after God? He does not change and our eternal security and joy is to be found in him and in him alone. Can we say with David, "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live"? (vv. 3-4)

How do we react when our sleep is disturbed and we lie awake in the small hours of the night? Do we fret over our sleeplessness and seek tablets from the doctor or pharmacist or do we use those wakeful hours to remember God's goodness to us down the years and to turn it into praise?

Father God, you have shown me your power and glory in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the eternal salvation that is mine through his death and resurrection. Help me by your Spirit so to delight in your love and care that I will trust you in every changing circumstance of my life. May I always be praising you for you are worthy of all my praise.

Peter Misselbrook