David has been hit by a Tsunami
In Psalm 63 we find David in the wilderness of Judah. What is he doing there? He is running for his life from Absalom his son. You can read about it in 2 Samuel 15-19. The narrative is mesmerising. Absalom the pin-up boy of Israel, having captured the hearts of the people, now leads a rebellion against his own father. But though David flees Jerusalem to the relative safety of the wilderness, he seeks refuge in a bigger country still. Psalm 63:1 reads,
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.
David’s words are striking, ‘O God you are my God’. He may have lost his crown, the loyalty of the people, even the love of his own son, but he has not lost his God. Everybody loves a wedding, and when we come to the bridegroom’s speech at the reception, there is one phrase we are all waiting to hear ‘On behalf of my wife and me’. Later on, of course, husbands speak of ‘the wife’. But the wedding day is the day for saying ‘my wife’. ‘If I am hers then she is mine, if I love her then she loves me, she is my wife.’ ‘Yes’ says David, ‘they can take from me my crown, my people, my son, but they cannot take from me my God’.
Have we been hit by a Tsunami?
Has my world been shaken? Then whatever is taken from me, whatever I have lost, nothing in all creation can separate me from my God.
Heaven and earth made fade and flee, first-born light in gloom decline,
But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.
Furthermore David’s use of the word ‘God’ is also significant. When he says ‘O God you are my God,’ he uses different words for God. He says in effect ‘O Mighty One you are my Stronghold’. So many may be seeking his life but he has found safety and refuge in the Big Country of his God, where no enemy can ever pursue him. Have we been driven into the wilderness? Are we pursued, alone, shaken? Then we may fall into the kind arms of our Heavenly Father.
But if David delights in the Lord, he cannot rest until he has found Him. He can’t bear to be apart from his God, and so he says, ‘O God you are my God; early will I seek you’. David’s waking thought is to meet with God.
What gets us out of bed in the morning?
Sometimes when driving down the motorway, we’re passed by a speeding car, with scarves and flags fluttering from the windows. They’re on their way to the other end of the country to see the match. It may have been a busy week, but such is their delight in their club that no effort seems too extreme. They will not get out of bed for another team, but they will for ‘my team’. Now if men so delight in the cruel and fickle gods of football, can we not make every effort to meet with the true and living God?!
Isn’t that why God sometimes makes our beds hard? When all is well in our lives, when the bed is warm and soft, we too easily let our souls enjoy lazy days, and sleep when we should be watching. But give to the Christian the hard bed of adversity and he must have God.
So do we seek God early?
And if my complaint is that I’m not a morning person, David’s words could equally be translated ‘Earnestly will I seek you’. Perhaps we can put it like this. If we could only meet with the Lord once a year, would we get out of bed for that? Well then, would we get up early if we could only see Him once a month? What if every day we awoke the Lord was in the next room? But what if we were to open our eyes to find the Lord is with us, in our very room, waiting to keep that special appointment! Will we get out of bed for that?
‘O God you are my God; early will I seek you’. Sometimes we have to be reckless enough to trash our routines, break our habits and beat a hasty path to His door. Indeed as Spurgeon wrote to a young man heading for the mission fields of North Africa, ‘Take special care to be much with Him.’
David now goes on to express the strength of his desire for God. ‘My soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you; in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water’.
The wilderness is a thirsty place. Some years ago I was trekking in the Brecon Beacons. It was the height of summer, and one of the hottest days of the year. So as we picked out our mountain route, we soon found ourselves ‘in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water’. It wasn’t long therefore before we were consumed with thirst. We couldn’t ignore it, it wouldn’t be reasoned with, and indeed it couldn’t be overcome. So strong was the desire we had to yield. In other words, David’s whole being is consumed with desire for God; he must have God and nothing less will satisfy him. Do we know such a thirst? Do we today want the Lord more than anything else in the world?
Symptoms of spiritual dehydration
I’m told symptoms of dehydration include a dry tongue, irritability, fatigue, and confusion. Are we unknowingly suffering from spiritual dehydration in the Christian life? Is our tongue unskilled in praise to God? Are we irritable and prickly with the failings of our brothers and sisters? Have we grown weary in doing good? Are we confused in our priorities, so that the kingdom of God is no longer everything to us? Then Christian friends, we must go to Him and drink deep draughts of living water, and slaking our thirsts, find sweet refreshment in our wonderful Lord Jesus. Whatever were we doing wandering so far, in the wilderness of this world?
The psalm continues for another ten verses. Why not turn to it now? Here is the briefest of summaries. Having sought the Lord, we find David rejoicing in Him, ‘your lovingkindness is better than life’ (v3). Yes says David, to experience God’s love is better than a thousand lifetimes. Indeed he would rather die than live on without it. We find the man who has lost everything (v4) recounting the Lord’s blessings, and (v5) banqueting in the wilderness on the conscious enjoyment of God. And when the night comes, do we find David worrying? On the contrary (v6) he’s lying awake thinking about God, safe in His keeping (v7), and resolved to stick to Him like glue (v8). It’s no surprise then to find at the end of the psalm, David confident of the outcome; ‘the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by him shall glory, but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped’.
What has happened to David in this psalm?
He may be in the wilderness, but he’s been walking the borderlands of the Big Country, breathing a heavenly air and communing with his God. He’s come in all his need to God, only to find that God has filled him with Himself. Rebellious Absalom could never know anything like this!
Gerard Hemmings is the minister of Amyand Park Chapel, Twickenham.