By Robert L. Cobb
1 <<A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.>> O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
Psalm 63 is King David’s psalm of loneliness. He wrote this psalm while he was fleeing from his son Absalom, who had taken his throne and made himself King. David was still the king in God’s sight, but he was not enjoying the benefits of his God-ordained position. Likewise, many times God’s children do not enjoy their birthright as His kings and priests.
He was not conscious of the presence of God, which had meant so much to him in the past. Psalm 63 is a godly man’s honest assessment of spiritual lacking in his heart, and a cry to God to manifest His presence to him. 2nd Samuel chapter 17 details the story as Absalom resolves to take 12,000 men to kill David and become the king outright. The armies encamp near the mountain of Ephraim to prepare for battle the next day. In 2 Samuel 17:27-29, a group brings food and provisions to David’s soldiers because “the people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.”
Some scholars believe that this is the point in time that David pens these words. He was staring death in the face as he and his soldiers would meet a superior foe the next morning in the battle of Mount Ephraim. There are many things we can learn in the study of this psalm. David, representative of the child of God, is out of his place. Though king, he is not acting as king. Though we are saints, many times we do not feel or act like saints.
Notice the four directions that David looks to be restored in fellowship and closeness with God. In verses 1-2, he looks inward; In verses 3-6, he looks upward; In verses 7-8, he looks backward, and in verse 9-11, he looks forward to the battle that lies before him the next morning.
I. DAVID’S PRESENT CONDITION, v. 1-2
David first relates to us his present condition. He looks inward and tells us his shortcomings and spiritual lacking.
1. He Had a Problem. “in the wilderness”
David was a fugitive from his calling. He was not fulfilling God’s purpose for his life, nor was he enjoying the blessings of his God. He was “in the wilderness.” How many times have God’s people been “in the wilderness” of depression, sorrow, sickness, or the circumstances of life and failed to recognize the presence of God?
2. He Had a Passion “…early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth…”
David realized that he did not feel God’s presence in his life, but he did not stop with that realization. He longed after that presence and desired it more than life itself. Man is made up of spirit, soul, and body and all of these facets of David’s being sought God. The “flesh” is not thought of as a conductor of the the things of God. Scholars say that David made himself physically sick in his longing for God. Oh, that we would desire God in such a way!
3. He Had a Pursuit “To see thy power and thy glory…”
In verse two, he mentions the “sanctuary.” No doubt he contemplated the times when he was king and tarried long at the temple, enjoying the power and glory of God. So many times we do the opposite of David. Instead of seeking the face of God, we slumber and backslide even further. What a lesson we see in the passion of David!
II. DAVID’S PURPOSED COMMUNION v. 3-6
David looked inward in verses 1-2 and saw his shortcomings. In verses 3-6, he looks upward and sees the sweetness of God. Notice how David “talked himself” into communion with God by reminding himself of God’s attributes and abilities. Many times ministers frown on “working up’ feelings, but this is exactly what David did in these verses.
1. His Witness in Speech “…my lips shall praise thee.”
The word translated “praise” here means “to laud, to congratulate, to boast.” David praised God because His “lovingkindness is better than life.” Most Old Testament saints were not familiar with God’s “lovingkindness” or grace. But David recognizes this most wondrous attribute of God and praises Him for it.
2. His Worship in Spirit “… will I bless thee…lift up my hands…”
These verses need to be proclaimed in every church today. Here David worships publicly. To “bless” God means to salute, kneel, or adore Him. He “lifts up” his hands in the name of God. David begins this psalm alone in his thoughts and thirsting after God’s presence. Notice how, in a personal way, he is now praising God.
3. His Wealth of Satisfaction “soul shall be satisfied..my mouth shall praise”
Christians today search for satisfaction in everything except God. When we have difficulty, we seem to move farther away from God rather than closer to Him. Notice that David purposed in his heart to be satisfied in his soul. He did not wait on a feeling. He manufactured the feeling! He willed it so! Today we allow ourselves to be limited by our “feelings.” David says he will be satisfied as “with marrow and fatness.” Marrow and fatness are the choice parts, signifying abundance. Dear friend, do you see this truth? David satisfied himself in his awful position and situation, and counted it as a “choice part.” Oh, that we might, like David, count it so in our lives.
4. His Wisdom in Secret “… I remember thee…, and meditate on thee…”
How could David count his misfortunes as “choice parts”? What is the secret? Is it some new age, mystical experience of mind control? The secret is found in verse six. He became satisfied “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” He looked back on his secret times with God and remembered the blessings of God’s presence in his life. Our “midnight meditations” can bless us months or years later, when we need it most. No time spent with God is wasted!
III. DAVID’S PAST COMFORT v. 7-8
With God’s blessings fresh in his mind, David now looks backward to the past and takes heart in God’s sovereignty.
1. God Was His Protection “…thou hast been my help…”
Someone once said “The easiest way to trust God in the present is to remember His help in the past.” David placed his trust in God when he remembered all the times God helped him in the past. As a shepherd boy, as the slayer of the giant, and as king, God had been his help. Can you see the mental picture as David says in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. There David stands behind his God as a small child would stand behind his parent.
2. God Was His Pattern “My soul followeth hard after thee…”
To “follow hard” after God means to cleave to, glue oneself to, or to be joined with.” After thee” tells us that David followed “directly behind” God. It is recorded that David was a man “after God’s own heart.” Years of closeness to God now helped David when God seemed far from him.
3. God Was His Power “…thy right hand upholdeth me.”
The right hand signifies God’s power. To uphold means to grasp tightly, to lay hold on. David encourages himself in the power of his God.
DAVID’S PROBLEMS CONSIDERED v. 9-11
Finally, David looks forward to the battle that lies in front of him. Notice the progression. In verses 1-2, he looks inward and sees spiritual lacking. In verses 3-6, he looks upward and sees God’s sweetness. In verses 7-8, he looks backward and finds the sovereignty of God. And here in verses 9-11, he looks forward and finds strength in God.
1. His Adversaries v. 9-10
The army commanded by Absalom would attack the next morning. David expresses his confidence in his God that victory was his. The opposing army was mightier than David’s rag-tag group. But God was on the side of David. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. It is amazing to realize that these prophetic words would literally come to pass in the battle the next day. In 2 Samuel 18, 6-8 the Bible tells us So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim;
Where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
2. His Allies v. 11
The king shall rejoice. Here David looks ahead to the upcoming victory. He is assured that God’s side will win. Those who are on the Lord’s side will glory in the Lord. … every one that sweareth by him shall glory… It behooves us all to make sure that we are on “the Lord’s side” in all our activities.
Conclusion: What a difference in the first few verse of the psalm and the end. David begins as a lonely, forlorn saint with a multitude of problems. He ends the psalm with great victory in his heart, even though the actual battle had not yet taken place. Brethren, God’s people are fully furnished with all that we need to be successful in this life. We should never allow the turmoils of life to engulf us. Don’t allow trials to keep you from enjoying the presence of God. Is Psalm 63, David shows us how.