Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the 26th of October 2023, here’s Psalm 63:
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.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm comes from a person somewhat separated from the sanctuary – God’s gathering place for God’s people – and he longs for that, again. It is a Psalm with the challenging message that the love of God is better than life itself. It is a Psalm that, in the light of God’s love, sees things differently. As Ross puts it in his commentary, “The satisfaction of his longing led him to anticipate that the mouth that praises God shall never be stopped, but the mouth that forges lies shall be made speechless forcibly”.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
Verse 1 is a statement about God’s existence, and also the personal nature of God – ‘my God’. Verse 2 makes it clear that God can be ‘beheld’ – and seen, particularly God’s power and glory. God’s love is better than life (v. 3). God is also a help to his people (v. 7), upholds them (v. 8), and deals with the enemies of his people (v. 9-10).
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
Psalm 63 challenges us about our priorities – both in an ultimate sense, in terms of God’s love being better than life, and in a more practical sense. It challenged me to re-engage with a modern-day interpretation of ‘sanctuary’ – the church. Do we long for God’s presence and power to fill and transform the spaces we meet? Psalm 63 also comforts us with justice – contrasting the destruction of the wicked with the salvation of God’s people: ‘all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
A prayer drawn from Psalm 63
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you. Help me to long for you every day, to be a truth-teller, and cling to you. Amen.