Iowa may not have mountain vistas or white beaches, but in summer its lush green fields and rolling tree-covered hills are beautiful. The land between the mighty Mississippi and the churning Missouri, creased by river valleys and meandering streams, displays more summer beauty than I-80 drivers realize.
And it’s a far cry from the arid wilderness of Judah, where David hid many years and what he calls in Psalm 63 a “dry and weary land where there is no water.”
David longs for God so fervently, he compares it to the intense desire for water and refreshment experienced when traveling through a desert.
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 (Psalm 63:1, ESV).
I may live in a lush land between two rivers in the heart of America, but I identify with David’s longing. Even the greenest land seems barren when it feels as if God is far off.
But when we participate in corporate worship and hear the Word faithfully proclaimed, we see a brief glimpse of God’s glory and power.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory (verse 2, ESV).
Our focus shifts from ourselves and our needs to God and his glory. We remember God’s unfailing love and we praise him for it.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands (verses 3 & 4, ESV).
God’s love defies limits. It never ends, it never wavers, it never changes. He always loves us with an abundance and compassion beyond our ability to fathom.
Because concerns kept me awake between 2:00 and 6:00 AM, the next section of this psalm speaks directly to me this morning.
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;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me (5-8, ESV).
I don’t always praise God with joyful lips or sing to him with joy. But if I remember what he’s done for me, how he’s guided every step of my life’s journey, and how he continues to shelter me under his protective wings, I ought to praise him. And praise leads to joy in the most downcast heart. In times of distress and discouragement, my soul can cling to God. His right hand holds me in his everlasting embrace.
The schemes of the devil and all his minions will come to nothing.
But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped (9-11, ESV).
God will thwart the plans of deceivers, manipulators, and liars. They will perish on the points of their own sharp schemes. We may not see their specific demise, but God promises that evil will not triumph.
Christ and his people will exult and rejoice in our God, who satisfies our longings more than an oasis of fresh water in a parched land.