0 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. Psalm 63:1 (KJV)
Recent news featured several individuals who were lost in the wilderness.
One story told of a young boy who became separated from his family when he left them in search of mushrooms. In another story, a hiker who left her team experienced a dangerous fall. With a badly broken leg she crawled miles through the woods until she was discovered. In both stories, their separation from others resulted in fear and despair until they were rescued from their dire situation.
In Psalm 63, its author, David, conveys his feelings of despair as he finds himself separated from the presence of Almighty God. It is in this Psalm that we find David desperately seeking God.
The historical context for this psalm can be found in 2 Samuel 15. David’s despair is the result of his son Absalom’s conspiracy to steal the kingdom from his father. Fearful of the potential shift in power, David vacates his throne in Jerusalem and heads to the wilderness of Judah:
And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness. (2 Sam. 15:23).
While David was in fact, in a physical wilderness, the wilderness he speaks of in Psalm 63 describes metaphorically his desperate longing for God’s presence. His need to spiritually reconnect with God took on the characteristics of a person physically suffering great thirst in a dry and parched wasteland.
David’s desire for God became the first thing he sought when he rose in the morning. His soul (his mind, will and emotions) thirsted for God. His flesh responded to this insatiable thirst in a strong longing to be with God. “To long” in Hebrew (kamahn) means “to faint with longing.” David was faint from longing for his God.
David’s emotional response in the wilderness mirrored what he probably heard while worshiping in the sanctuary in Jerusalem:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Ps. 42:1-2).
David now knew what it felt like to experience thirst for the Living God.
Though David had never seen God physically, he had personally experienced God’s power and glory through His nature and attributes. He knew God’s love and mercy as he tended to his father’s sheep as a young boy (Ps. 23).
David was witness to God’s protection as he faced the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:49-51). David knew the source of his success in battle against Israel’s enemies (1 Sam. 18:5, 7). David knew the power of God’s presence.
Remembrance of those times gave David confident assurance that God would graciously hear and answer His call (Isa. 30:19). It was in God’s presence only that David would find spiritual relief for his thirst.
In today’s society people are desperately seeking relief for their spiritual thirst. They are searching for life options they feel will satisfy their needs through hedonistic pursuits, spiritual experimentation, and material gain.
These efforts unfortunately never satisfy and often result in further despair and darkness. God our Father and Creator knows and possesses what is needed for spiritual dryness. Only He can truly satisfy man’s needs. Let us, like David, seek greater intimacy with God, driven by an unquenchable thirst for His presence. Let us desperately seek God!