St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Sunday, June 21
By: Sharon Sheriff
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
I am drawn to Psalm 63 because David used this time in the wilderness of Judah to seek and praise God, rather than to ask anything of Him. It Is a song of praise rather than supplication. David had been pursued by both his father-in-law and his son for years. Thinking David was a threat to his throne, a jealous Saul sought to kill him. And, Absolom led a rebellion against his father wanting to be King himself.
My inclination when things in life seem to be imploding all around, is to petition God and ask for resolution. It is easy to praise God when I experience the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains or view a beautiful sunset. Psalm 63 encourages me to seek and praise God during times of crisis.
David had fled from his throne, leaving possessions, wives, and power. His very own son whom he loved was trying to kill him. David did not have just one loss; he had lost everything. David’s loss and betrayal were catastrophic, yet David’s joy was not based on circumstances. In-spite-of his losses, David did not even ask God for a blessing.
Furthermore, David did not ask God to give him back what he had lost. “Give me back my kingdom, give me back my wives,” but rather, “I shall seek you, my soul thirsts for you, your love is better than life.”
David simply longed for God’s presence, praising Him and finding joy in His fellowship. He used metaphors of physical thirst and hunger to describe his soul’s desire for God’s presence. “I seek you more than water in a barren desert.” “If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection.” The darkest of times can be made brighter by grateful meditation.
Having had a career in mental health, people came to see me to process their losses: loneliness, extended illness, death of a loved one, broken relationships, family dysfunction, betrayal of friends, job loss. After working through grief and sadness, the intentional focus was to help each person recognize things for which to be grateful.
Finding gratitude might start with the basics: (a version of Maslow’s hierarchy) sustenance, shelter, each new day – to higher levels of appreciation. Those with a faith in God had an inner strength and peace upon which to call. They had an awareness of their need for God and to know all that we are comes from God.
David longed after God in verses 1-4, delighted in God in verses 5-8, and viewed God as his defender in verses 9-11. Our enemies may not be armies against us as in Judah, but enemies of doubt, worry, anxiety, self-deprecation, negativity of thought. “Those who are out to get me are marked by doom.” (The Message) Just as David let God handle his enemies, we can give our “enemies” over to God, as well.
How do we hand over doubt, worry, etc.? By getting out of ourselves. By extending ourselves to others. To purposefully and intentionally look for ways to make life easier for another person. By investing ourselves in the lives of others, we are modeling the investment that God constantly makes in us.
A favorite hymn that speaks to me is “Higher Ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith on Heaven’s table land.
A higher faith, than I have found,
Lord plant my feet on higher ground.
Did you know that Reginald Heber’s immortal hymn?
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Early in the morning, my song shall rise to Thee,”
was inspired by Psalm 63. A good way to start the day.