All of us have a natural need for water. If we don't get enough our bodies will suffer. David, in Psalm 63, reminds us that we also have a need for God's presence in our lives. We should thirst for God just as a person in the desert longs for water.
Psalm 63 divides into two sections based upon the change of address. The first part, verses 1-8, is a prayer to God. The second part is addressed to the reader or listener of the psalm.
One thing that stood out to me as I studied this psalm was the abundance of transition words: "so", "for", "when", "but". The action in this psalm is continually pushed forward as David presents an idea and then responds with action.
I thirst for You (verse 1) - therefore I will seek Your presence (verse 2)
Your love is better than life (verse 3) - therefore I will praise You (verse 4)
My soul is satisfied (verse 5) - because I remember Your works (verse 6)
I remember Your help (verse 7) - therefore I cling to You (verse 8)
God will protect me (verse 9-10) - therefore I will praise Him (verse 11)
The meaningful center is found in verse 6a
when I remember You upon my bed
The meaningful center provides the solution to David's thirst for God.
I Thirst for You
Thirsting for God
David begins this psalm by painting a picture of a person fainting from thirst because he is in a dry land with no water. David spent many years hiding in the wilderness, so David understands, on a very personal level, what it feels like to be dehydrated and desperate for water. In fact, 1 Chronicles 23:15-17 tells of one of those times.
But David's real thirst is for God.
This makes me wonder: Do I truly thirst after God? Or is religion just another thing on my to do list? Do I just go through the motions or do I really seek to meet with God?
David's response to his thirst was to go to the tabernacle to meet with God. And God responded to his desire by giving him a vision of His power and glory. The rest of the psalm highlights God's power and glory and David's response them.
First David focuses on God's love. It is easy to miss the transition here, so let me remind you of a time, in Exodus 33:18-19, when Moses asked to see God's glory. God's response, In verse 19, is to show Moses His goodness and mercy and grace. What we often miss is that it is God's love (His goodness, mercy and grace) that makes Him glorious.
So, in verse 3 David continues by saying that because he now realizes the glorious love of God, he will praise him as long as he lives. What makes God glorious is His love and it is His love that impels us to praise Him.
Satisfied in God
Verse 5 and 6 is a direct answer to verse 1. In verse 1 David says he thirsts for God. In verse 5 he tells us that he is now satisfied, because he remembers the goodness and power of God. Verse 6, the meaningful center, teaches us that the solution for our thirst is to remember God's works and meditate on Him.
Just as verse 3 developed the theme of God's glory, verse 7 develops the theme of God's power. God has demonstrated His power in David's life by being his helper and protector. David finds safety under the protective wings of God's love and power. Therefore, David will cling to God and find comfort in His power to protect.
God Will Protect
There is a sudden change of address in the final verses from talking to God to talking about God setting this apart as a new section.
In verses 9-10 David tells us that God's love will protect him from his enemies. His enemies seek to destroy him but God displays His love for David by using His power to destroy them.
God's love and justice are not two opposite attributes. Rather, they are tightly connected. God's justice is necessary to stop evil from destroying those who seek to follow Him. Yes, God's justice is also an expression of His holiness and hatred of sin. But, God has already made a way through Jesus so that no one needs to be punished. Those who persist in sin must be stopped before they destroy those that seek to do good.
The psalm ends by declaring that the righteous will rejoice in God's love and power, but liars will be silent.
What did David learn when he thirsted after God? He saw a vision of God's:
- Power and
- Glory (Love)
Therefore, if we want to be satisfied in God we need to
- Praise Him for His love
- Remember what He has done
- Cling to Him
- Trust His power to protect
The meaningful center in verse 6 reminds us that the key to being satisfied in God is remembering what he has done.