Psalm 63: Thirsting for that Which Truly Satisfies
When I’m thirsty, nothing quenches my thirst like a glass of cold water. It’s what my body needs and longs for. I may enjoy a good cup of coffee or glass of wine, but nothing is quite like water. It is necessary for life, just as God is necessary for life. Psalm 63 reminds us of this.
The author of Psalm 63 compares his desire for God to thirst. “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirst for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (1) Without water a person dies; without God the soul dies. Nothing will satisfy but the real thing, no substitute will do.
The psalmist knows this God, has met him before in prayer, “So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” (2) He has feasted on God’s presence, “My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,” the gourmet’s dish. In Isaiah 25:6 fat and marrow are part of God’s sumptuous feast, “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things; a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” Being in God’s presence is like enjoying a wonderful feast.
The writer clings to God who has been his help in the past. “For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (7-8) He rests in the shadow of God’s wings, a good place to be.
Feasting and Fasting
We are currently in the season of Lent, a time for fasting and penitence. Many people give up items they love during Lent, a form of fasting. They may give up chocolate or sweets, wine or meat. My husband routinely gives up cheese. This creates problems for me as I wrote in my article, “Six Lenten Pitfalls to Avoid.”
Psalm 63 talks about feasting on the good things of this earth. What does this have to do with Lent and fasting?
I know the pleasure of sipping on a latte during the day, or a glass of wine at day’s end, enjoying the fruits of this earth. This is good. These earthly pleasures point us to the creator of all that is good, our God. Psalm 63 tell us, “For your love is better than life.” (4 New American Bible) As one commentator states, “only here in the Old Testament is anything prized above life—in this case God’s love.”
The Hebrew people loved life as a great gift from God. They loved the good things of this earth, as exemplified in this psalm. But greater than this is God’s love.
Happy are those who know their need for God!
We can get too much of a good thing, such as too many lattes can leave me hyped and upset my stomach. Sometimes we can mistake created goods for the Creator. But we can’t get too much of God’s love. Our Lenten fasting is meant to help us focus on what is most important, which is God’s love.
The New English Bible translates Matthew 5:3, the first verse of the Beatitudes, as, “Happy are those who know their need for God.” The writer of Psalm 63 is one such person.
Some might fill themselves with the goods of this earth as a means to fill the emptiness inside. Others desire money and power, only to find these do not satisfy.
The writer knows that God is everything; God is our ultimate desire. He devotes his life to that which truly satisfies, the search for God. He is happy indeed.
What about you? Do you mistake created goods for the Creator? Are you seeking after that which does not satisfy?
This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my Dancing through Life Series. click here to sign up
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