The Book of Psalms

Wednesday: A Love Better Than Life


Theme: Finding Satisfaction in God
In this week’s lessons we learn from the psalmist what it is to truly desire God.
Scripture: Psalm 63:1-11
About a thousand years after these words were written, David’s greater descendant Jesus Christ said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). David did not know these specific words, of course. But he did know the reality of them since he elaborates this idea in the next section (vv. 2-8).
There are various ways these verses can be studied. For example, they might be outlined as God’s past, present and future satisfying of David. The past is seen in verse 2: “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your glory.” It is the memory of those joyous moments that makes David’s present circumstances painful. In the present David says: “Your love is better than life” (v. 3), “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (v. 6), “You are my help” (v. 7), and “Your right hand upholds me” (v. 8). Even though he is cut off from the sanctuary in Jerusalem, God has not cut himself off from David. As Spurgeon said, “There was no desert in his heart, though there was a desert around him.”1 Lastly is the future: “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (v. 5). Because God is the same and does not change, the one who has found God able to satisfy his longings in the past can know that he will continue to satisfy him completely in the present and in the future too.
If we outline the verses in this way, they become a means of exploring God’s character and stressing his inexhaustible capacity for satisfying our deepest spiritual desires. They are a development of Saint Augustine’s well-known words: “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.”2
Again, this section can be studied for how David praises God. Thomas Le Blane, one of the older commentators, saw David doing this in seven ways. Using the King James translation, he wrote, “First, he extols the loving-kindness of God with his lips (v. 3): ‘My lips shall praise thee.’ Secondly, with his tongue (v. 4): ‘Thus will I bless thee while I live.’ Thirdly, with his hands: ‘I will lift up my hands in thy name.’ Fourthly, with his will (v. 5): ‘My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.’ Fifthly, with his mouth: ‘And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.’ Sixthly, with his memory (v. 6): “When I remember thee upon my bed.’ Seventhly and lastly, with his intellect: “And meditate on thee in the night watches.’”3
If we handle the verses in this way, they become a means of exploring what it means to be a human being and how each part of a person’s physical and emotional make-up can be used to praise God. This would be a worthwhile study in itself. Most people only use about a tenth of their brain, and it would be highly worthwhile to find out how to use just a few percentage points more of our mental capacities. In the same way, it would be worthwhile to find out how to use just a bit more of our potential capacity for praising God.
1C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2a, Psalms 58-87 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 65.
2Augustine, The Confessions, Book I, paragraph 1, in Basic Writings of Saint Augustine, ed. Whitney J. Oates (New York: Random, 1948), vol. 1, p. 3.
3C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2a, Psalms 58-87 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 73.
Study Questions:

How does the psalm testify to God’s past, present and future relationship with David? How is God’s character seen in these things?
What seven ways is David praising God in this psalm? Why are these seven ways significant?

Application: List each of the seven parts of his being David used to praise God in this psalm. Next to each, write down the specific way you will praise God with each of these parts of yourself.

Study Questions
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