The Equation of Psalm 63

It often seems that when trouble hits our lives we do everything we can before we seek the Lord. We want relief, we want hope, we want a change in circumstances. So, we seek these things and often believe that they are within our power, primarily, to attain. God becomes the afterthought only when these initial efforts fail us. Psalm 63, however, gives us an equation that reminds us our primary pursuit ought to be the Lord Himself. In the equation of the Psalm we learn that when we seek the Lord we gain the benefits of being in relationship to the Lord.

The Psalm is broken down into two parts, as I see it. Each communicates the same idea: a desperation for the Lord. Each also presents us with an equation that moves towards the person of God and receives the benefits of being in relationship to this God. Part one (v. 1-4) starts with a desperate yearning for the Lord Himself. The Psalmist writes:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

The Psalmist makes a comparison to highlight his desperation for God. His soul thirsts and flesh faints for God as if he were a dry and weary desert landscape yearning for water. The picture of the parched land pleading for a droplet of water is compelling. The Psalmist knows how much His soul needs God. He stresses that he “earnestly” seeks the Lord. This is not just religious duty, it is a genuine thirsting for God Himself.

The result of this pursuit is revealed in the remaining verses as the Psalmist comes to “behold” God’s “power and glory” (v. 2) and gets a greater sense of the surpassing worth of God’s love (it is “better than life” itself, v. 3). We, of course, want these things. I want them and have wanted them over this last week especially. But often we pursue these elements in and of themselves. We want to behold power and glory! We want to experience God’s love. But we seek them almost as if we can attain them apart from God Himself. But the Psalmist knows these are only found in the pursuit of God himself.

What is it that you want, friend? What are you seeking? Do you want relief? Help? Power and glory? Do you seek a greater sense of the surpassing worth of God’s love? How are you seeking those things? Is God merely a means to an end or do you recognize that God Himself is the end of our seeking? God is the goal. To get the benefits of being in relationship with God you must seek God.

The second half of the Psalm (v. 5-11), repeats this same concept: desperation for God leading to the benefits of being in relationship with God. He describes the satisfaction he experiences from being in relationship with God. It is like eating your fill of rich and delicious foods (v. 5). But such satisfaction only comes when he remembers God. So we read:

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

The scene here is one in which the psalmist is lying awake in his bed, he is keeping watch in the night for trouble and terror and enemy attacks (v. 9). Perhaps you know about this experience too, those feelings of restlessness and anxiety interrupting your sleep. The Psalmist describes a type of satisfaction that can come to Him as he “remembers” God in the midst of this trouble.

We all want the relief that God offers, the hope and help to overcome our troubles. The Psalmist is certainly in trouble. There are enemies who seek to destroy his life (v. 9). He lies awake at night fearful that they may attack him under the cover of darkness. No doubt he desires relief, assurance, protection, and rest. Yet, he does not focus his attention on these benefits, but rather on the person of God. “When I remember you upon my bed,” he stresses. The Psalmist seeks the Lord.

I have been struck over this last week by the contrast between the Psalmist’s pursuits and my own. I feel burdened and stressed and want relief. I cry out to the Lord for these things, but in my desperation I am not seeking Him but only what He may offer me. What about you? What are you pursuing? Are you using the Lord to get what you most want? Psalm 63 presents us with an equation: seek the Lord and find the benefits of being in relationship with Him. As you start this week turn your attention to God Himself and be able to say with the Psalmist:

O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You.

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