It’s summer. It’s hot. You’re dry. The sun is beating mercilessly down. There is so much to do, but your mind cannot concentrate on anything but a cool drink of water. You try, but nothing else can push its way passed that nagging longing.
Thirst, it is indeed one of the strongest drives within us. Why? Perhaps it is linked to our survival. A person can go a long time without many of the things that hound us the most. People of gone weeks without food, years with talking, a lifetime without intimacy; but no one has gone more than a few days without water. Our bodies are made up mostly of the stuff and to remain healthy and vibrant it must have a steady supply of this liquid life called water.
God knows how He made us. Maybe it was by design that He created us to long for water. Maybe He did this on purpose in order use it later to help mankind understand just how much we need Him. As a matter of fact, humans are not the only creatures that need water to survive; all living things do. Again this may be a reminder that God is vital to all life this side of the sun.
In Psalm 63, King David used his need for water to emphasize his need for God. In the title of the psalm, David mentions that he wrote this song while he was in the Desert of Judah, a region south of Jerusalem. It was a place where he hid from his enemies. It was a dry, lonely place that encompassed the area around the Dead Sea. From there David wrote this short psalm that expressed not only his longing for God but ours as well. Take a moment and read Psalm 63. Hear the words echo off the steep-walled, dead-end canyons of the Judean desert. Even more hear the words echo in the deep longing of the king.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (v.1) Can David’s longing have been made any clearer? He declared both his loyalty and longing for God. Just as he was physically living in a desert, he was living in a spiritual desert. Here, he was seeking earnestly. In the Kings James Version the word is early; both speak of an urgent, painstaking quest for God. David’s body and soul ached for the Lord.
As David considered where he was he also remembered where he had been. He remembered his days worshiping in the very presence of God (v.2). He remembered God’s power and glory encountered in those times of worship. He remembered that nothing was better than his love for God; even more God’s love for him (v.3). And, even in the desert place, David was still able to honor and worship the Lord; “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (v.4). How important is that? How vital is it for a Christian to remember the greatness and worthiness of God in the midst of his or her most desperate and driest moments?
These thoughts moved David to understand that it was his relationship with God that turned his time in the desert to a time of delight. David found fellowship with God more to be desired than a banquet (v.5a). He discovered that only God could “satisfy” him. The word means “more than enough,” to go beyond saturated to satiated. To be saturated is to be filled up; to be satiated is a step beyond saturated. A sponge is satiated when a drop of water goes in the top and forces a drop out the bottom. This is how satisfying God was to David. He needed nothing and no one else. He also came to understand that when God fills you up you cannot help but break out in praise for Him and to Him. “With singing lips my mouth will praise you,” the king exclaims (v.5b).
Remember, that which drove King David to hide in the Desert of Judah were people bent on destroying him. The threat was real, real enough to send one of Israel’s great warrior-kings running for his life into the wilderness. But as he remembered God’s power, His glory, and especially His love, David’s fear turned to faith. He knew that God had a plan for him. He knew that God would protect and deliver him. David knew that the battles were not his but the Lord’s (vs.9-10).
Have you ever found yourself in such a desert? Longing, aching just to spend time with your Lord. If you have, hear the words of David, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (v.6-8). When David spoke of remembering he was speaking of meditating on the memory. The word is a seldom used Hebrew word that best corresponds to our familiar word – ponder.
Even in the desert place, when God seems so distant and your thirst for Him so intense, know that the Lord is there. He is close enough that His shadow falls across you to protect you from the sun’s ruthless heat. He is with you through the darkest night. He holds to you when the path is slippery. Remember these realities.
After you ponder awhile then, like David in the midst of the desert “rejoice in God…praise Him” (v.11). Don’t allow the desert places to dry up your spirit. Instead allow them to intensify your longing for the Lord. Allow the desert to serve as a reminder of just how fine it is to be there, or anywhere, with God.