“O God, you are my God, 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 (NRSV).
An authentically wonderful soul desperation mixed with nuances of unbridled joy, complete with a twist of awe, and sensual grace beyond words: that’s the essence of Psalm 63—that, a Lament of the Individual, “of David.”
If we ever feel despondent, we take this psalm deep into our prayer closet and breathe the word concepts into our souls; we meditate on David as he would have written and lived it.
Reflective Yet Affirmative Mood
The language of praise in this psalm is reminiscent of a lover trawling over his or her betrothed—there is no sight for another; verses 1-8 drip with complete monogamous faithfulness; an intimacy unmatched.
Yet, reflectiveness is no blasé, disconnected or morally deficient quality in this psalm. The marker of reflection here is intentional, focused and unswerving. This king is besotted with his King!
A desperate situation has brought David to affirm, with fervour, his allegiance.
A Hint of Lament
Verses 9-10 offer the slightest taint of the occasion of this prayer—after all it was a stark wilderness experience David was encountering.
But the allusion of lament, here, is almost silenced by the deafening glory of God manifest in David’s proper infatuation with the Lord, his God.
Verse 11 retains the faithful refrain: “But the king shall rejoice in God...”
God will shut the mouths of liars. Trust in God is unstinting.
Satisfied of Soul
The psalmist, and we—if we partake in the wondrous grace of the Father in Jesus’ sanctifying name—is beyond the biting reality of life that undoes us. Life is no less painful or frustrating. But the satisfaction of soul we gain in having accessed healing means we have a Sanctuary to bay in any time we like. Indeed, we long for it.
God has literally ‘filled’ the psalmist up; beyond wanting or needing anything else. He’s experienced the saving grace of the Lord in the manner of actual life (verse 7a) and it goes beyond his fear.
We imagine, also, the psalmist woken of a night-time; he’s rested, even in troubling fatigue, to roll thoughts of God around the mind at 2, 3, and 4 A.M. To meditate upon God is the first thought at these times where tiredness prevails over sleep (verse 6).
Often in our post-postmodern lives we’re given to boredom, and hence discomfort, when we stand still. This psalm is for the person who’s been made real to themselves, and who’s perfectly comfortable without a single thing besides God. This is something we ought to aspire for: “God’s steadfast love is better than life” (verse 3a).
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.