Good News Translation
Longing for God[a]
O God, you are my God,
and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
my soul is thirsty for you.
God you are my God I yearn and long for you above all else. My whole self craves you in a desolate parched dry land my soul thirsts for you
Psalm 63 1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Psalms 63
This psalm has in it as much of warmth and lively devotion as any of David’s psalms in so little a compass. As the sweetest of Paul’s epistles were those that bore date out of a prison, so some of the sweetest of David’s psalms were those that were penned, as this was, in a wilderness. That which grieved him most in his banishment was the want of public ordinances; these he here longs to be restored to the enjoyment of; and the present want did but whet his appetite. Yet it is not the ordinances, but the God of the ordinances, that his heart is upon. And here we have,
• I. His desire towards God (v. 1, 2).
• II. His esteem of God (v. 3, 4).
• III. His satisfaction in God (v. 5).
• IV. His secret communion with God (v. 6).
• V. His joyful dependence upon God (v. 7, 8).
• IV. His holy triumph in God over his enemies and in the assurance of his own safety (v. 9-11).
A devout and pious soul has little need of direction how to sing this psalm, so naturally does it speak its own genuine language; and an unsanctified soul, that is unacquainted and unaffected with divine things, is scarcely capable of singing it with understanding.
A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
• 1. Even in Canaan, though a fruitful land and the people numerous, yet there were wildernesses, places less fruitful and less inhabited than other places. It will be so in the world, in the church, but not in heaven; there it is all city, all paradise, and no desert ground; the wilderness there shall blossom as the rose.
• 2. The best and dearest of God’s saints and servants may sometimes have their lot cast in a wilderness, which speaks them lonely and solitary, desolate and afflicted, wanting, wandering, and unsettled, and quite at a loss what to do with themselves.
• 3. All the straits and difficulties of a wilderness must not put us out of tune for sacred songs; but even then it is our duty and interest to keep up a cheerful communion with God. There are psalms proper for a wilderness, and we have reason to thank God that it is the wilderness of Judah we are in, not the wilderness of Sin.
David, in these verses, stirs up himself to take hold on God,
• I. By a lively active faith: O God! thou art my God. Note, In all our addresses to God we must eye him as God, and our God, and this will be our comfort in a wilderness-state. We must acknowledge that God is, that we speak to one that really exists and is present with us, when we say, O God! which is a serious word; pity it should ever be used as a by-word. And we must own his authority over us and propriety in us, and our relation to him: “Thou art my God, mine by creation and therefore my rightful owner and ruler, mine by covenant and my own consent.” We must speak it with the greatest pleasure to ourselves, and thankfulness to God, as those that are resolved to abide by it: O God! thou art my God.
• II. By pious and devout affections, pursuant to the choice he had made of God and the covenant he had made with him.
• 1. He resolves to seek God, and his favour and grace: Thou art my God, and therefore I will seek thee; for should not a people seek unto their God? Isa. 8:19. We must seek him; we must covet his favour as our chief good and consult his glory as our highest end; we must seek acquaintance with him by his word and seek mercy from him by prayer. We must seek him,
• (1.) Early, with the utmost care, as those that are afraid of missing him; we must begin our days with him, begin every day with him: Early will I seek thee.
• (2.) Earnestly: “My soul thirsteth for thee and my flesh longeth for thee (that is, my whole man is affected with this pursuit) here in a dry and thirsty land.” Observe,
• [1.] His complaint in the want of God’s favourable presence. He was in a dry and thirsty land; so he reckoned it, not so much because it was a wilderness as because it was at a distance from the ark, from the word and sacraments. This world is a weary land (so the word is); it is so to the worldly that have their portion in it-it will yield them no true satisfaction; it is so to the godly that have their passage through it-it is a valley of Baca; they can promise themselves little from it.
• [2.] His importunity for that presence of God: My soul thirsteth, longeth, for thee. His want quickened his desires, which were very intense; he thirsted as the hunted hart for the water-brooks; he would take up with nothing short of it. His desires were almost impatient; he longed, he languished, till he should be restored to the liberty of God’s ordinances. Note, Gracious souls look down upon the world with a holy disdain and look up to God with a holy desire.
• 2. He longs to enjoy God. What is it that he does so passionately wish for? What is his petition and what is his request? It is this (v. 2), To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. That is,
• (1.) “To see it here in this wilderness as I have seen it in the tabernacle, to see it in secret as I have seen it in the solemn assembly.” Note, When we are deprived of the benefit of public ordinances we should desire and endeavour to keep up the same communion with God in our retirements that we have had in the great congregation. A closet may be turned into a little sanctuary. Ezekiel had the visions of the Almighty in Babylon, and John in the isle of Patmos. When we are alone we may have the Father with us, and that is enough.
• (2.) “To see it again in the sanctuary as I have formerly seen it there.” He longs to be brought out of the wilderness, not that he might see his friends again and be restored to the pleasures and gaieties of the court, but that he might have access to the sanctuary, not to see the priests there, and the ceremony of the worship, but to see thy power and glory (that is, thy glorious power, or thy powerful glory, which is put for all God’s attributes and perfections), “that I may increase in my acquaintance with them and have the agreeable impressions of them made upon my heart”-so to behold the glory of the Lord as to be changed into the same image, 2 Co. 3:18. “That I may see thy power and glory,” he does not say, as I have seen them, but “as I have seen thee.” We cannot see the essence of God, but we see him in seeing by faith his attributes and perfections. These sights David here pleases himself with the remembrance of. Those were precious minutes which he spent in communion with God; he loved to think them over again; these he lamented the loss of, and longed to be restored to. Note, That which has been the delight and is the desire of gracious souls, in their attendance on solemn ordinances, is to see God and his power and glory in them.
What Does Psalm 63:1 Mean? ►
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Life often takes us through the weary place and the parched wilderness on this journey through life, where only God can provide the comfort and sustenance we desperately need. He alone is our present help in time of trouble, and His compassion and mercy towards us is new every morning. How precious that as His children, we can legitimately cry out, “O God, You are MY God.”
It was David who penned this hymn of worship and praise as he trudged through the arid, waterless, Judean wilderness. He was without friends, hunted by enemies, and placed in an enforced exile from his people and homeland. But in simple, yet beautiful language, he compares his deep yearning for the Lord with parched land that is dry and desolate. He compares his desperate longing for the Lord with a place that is devoid of water, as he cries out to God, “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 was a man who had developed a passion for God from his youth. He sought the Lord early in life and at the break of each day he yearned for the Lord with childlike simplicity. David found out that God was his faithful Shepherd and strong Tower. He had discovered that the Lord was His abiding Treasure and the, “Rock of my Salvation.”
David sought after God with an eager intensity that we would do well to emulate, for we too are His people and we are also the sheep of His pasture. We are His by creation and His through purchase – we are His by promise and His by permission.
We are the people of God and He is the God our salvation. He is ours through time and we are His into eternity. He chose us before the foundation of the world and knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and the works of His hand are marvellous to behold.
The Lord is the Redeemer of my spirit, the Lover of my soul, and the permanent Resident within this body of flesh. He is the One to Whom I must fly in all circumstances of life, and in every season of my earthly wanderings He is the one Who comforts and succours.
When I stray from His side, I must quickly return and seek Him with my whole heart. I must covet His favour with my entire being for He is the Lord and there is no other. He upholds the world by the might of His power yet has become the Comforter of my soul. He has rescued me from the miry clay and set my feet upon the solid Rock. He has filled the hungry with good things… but the rich have been sent empty away.
Let us seek Him early and pursue Him earnestly because His loving-kindness is better than life itself. Let us long for Him ardently and desire Him incessantly