GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
Trinity 11 (15th Aug 2021)
WHAT SATISFIES YOU?
“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3
A Dissatisfying State of Affairs
We are living in an increasingly crazy and chaotic world that has been redefined and conditioned by the Covid 19 pandemic. It is a world fraught with danger and uncertainty. Unencumbered social interactions, fellowship and getting together with friends and loved ones have become more and more of a thing of the distant past. Zoom meetings have pretty much become the norm. The name may suggest something fun or dynamic, but you and I know that they are anything but.
We cringe each time we hear the unwelcome announcement of a fresh outbreak and its accompanying increased restrictions. We celebrate with bated breath each time we are told that the restrictions have been partially lifted, hoping that they would soon be completely removed altogether.
If someone should ask, ‘What is life?’ or ‘How is life these days?’, I wonder what our replies might be.
Amidst all this, it is not difficult to just drift along and that can happen to us and our spiritual lives too. What with all the limitations regarding Church Services or Christian fellowship meetings.
Friends, in a world of unending series of bad news, setbacks, lockdowns and restrictions, life has become more and more like living in the wilderness. We need to take care that we do not fall into a state of spiritual apathy. We must be watchful of our spiritual fervour, even our devotion towards God.
Do we still have that spiritual yearning for God? Do we still long to meet with Him each day? Do we seek Him in the morning and late at night? Do we look forward to praise and adore Him be this in our personal time with Him or together with others? Do we do so with all our hearts?
Perhaps Psalm 63 may be helpful to us.
Finding Satisfaction in the Wilderness
Psalm 63 was composed by King David. The setting was in the Judean wilderness. The Judean wilderness was anything but lush and green. It was hot, bare, sandy, dusty, and arid. Still is today. There was truly little of life and what sustained life. Vegetation was sparse. Water was scarce.
While in Egypt, occasionally, we would go for retreats at places such as Wadi Natroun. The places were hot, bare, sandy, dusty, and arid too. However, there was water and palm trees, food, and shelter. A far cry from what King David had. To be fair, King David was not there for a spiritual retreat or a break. He was fleeing from his enemies! This was either during his flight from Saul (1 Samuel 23), or more likely from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15; c.f., Psalm 63:11 “the king”).
Unlike many of the psalms written in desperate situations, this psalm is overflowing with thanksgiving rather than lament and petition. David declared his longing for spiritual renewal (vs 1-2), his thankfulness (vs 3-6), his trust in God (vs 7-8), and his hope for the future (vs 9-11). Enemies were mentioned only in passing (vs 9-10).
¹ 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.
² So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
³ Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
⁴ So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
We see King David’s ardour for the Lord expressed in the words of this Psalm. The delirious overtones of spiritual passion found in the opening lines of Psalm 63 says it all. “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.”
We see David’s intense love and passion for God. Clearly, his entire being, physical and spiritual, was focused on the Lord. His experience of the wilderness was translated into spiritual ardour. Instead of allowing the harsh and hostile wilderness to overpower him, sap the life out of him and kill him, he was able to embrace it and allowed it to shape and strengthen his fervour for God.
In v1, David started by acknowledging God and his relationship with Him. He described his devotion towards God as one who ‘seeks’, ‘thirsts’ and even ‘faints’ for God.
The word ‘earnestly’ can also be rendered ‘early’, suggesting that God was the very first above all he sought at the beginning of the day. There was no one else. There was nothing else. Despite his affliction, David’s devotion was to the Lord. His thoughts were directed towards the Lord’s power and glory and His steadfast love. His response was one of praise, adoration, and worship.
What Satisfaction Do You Seek?
We can take a cue from King David. In a sin-filled world, it is easy to curse and complain, blast and blame, whenever things do not go well or according to plan. It is easy to become depressed or even wallow in self-pity. However, for those who know and who are devoted to the Lord, they understand that this sinful world cannot satisfy the wants and desires of their immortal souls. Their true and lasting happiness can only come from God.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3)
Friends, when we should encounter a wilderness of testing or experience affliction, what do we do? Can we, like King David, praise, adore and worship God? Can we bless the Lord as long as we live? Can we offer our praise and worship to Him to honour His Name at all times?
What satisfies you? For King David, it was nothing and no one else but God Himself. Only He can meet his every need, satisfy his deepest longings, fill his every void, and lift his spirit up. His relationship with God, even his love and devotion towards the Lord was everything to him.
It was King David’s devotion that led him to ponder, praise and worship the Lord. It was such a devotion that enabled him to experience the reality of God even in his affliction and in the most trying of circumstances.
The outcome of David’s devotion to God enabled him to serve the purposes of God in his day and inspire many generations right to this day. It enabled him to live to the praise and glory of God. May we be inspired to do no less. Amen!