A psalm of David, When he was in the desert of Judah.
“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.”
It is 2 a.m. and you are awakened by your cellphone, dancing and playing its merry little tune on your nightstand. Sleepy eyed you reach over. It is not like you were sleeping well anyway.
Answering it you hear the frantic plea of a dear friend: “Get up and get out immediately! Your son is on the way and he’s bringing his gang banger friends with him. He’s going to kill you! That kid of yours has murder in his eyes!”
His words startle you awake. You jump up and grab your car keys. You tear out of your drive way in your Lexus with just the clothes on your back. 2 hours later you pull into a freeway rest stop… and attempt to collect yourself. At a lonely picnic table, you ask yourself: “How did it all come to this?”
You knew your son was capable… he had already murdered his half-brother. He killed him to avenge the rape of his sister. It was such a difficult and twisted time. You haven’t spoken to that blood thirsty kid since. But your silence has done nothing but fuel your son’s animosity. Now he is after your head!
“How did things come to this?” you utter again holding your head in your hands… and then… you remember… it was you. It was you that started this whole drama in your family… when you had that affair 2 years ago. You began a slide in morality that is now an avalanche of sorrow. Where do you go from here? Where can you turn for help and relief?
(this intro is based on an introduction from A. T. Stewart in his sermon, “Finding God in Your Devastation” on sermoncentral.com)
What I just shared with you is not an episode of “Without a Trace” or “Law and Order,” but is a day in the life of King David which is the background of Psalm 63. This Psalm has a title: A Psalm of David when he was in the Desert of Judah.
The son in question is Absalom, who had killed his half-brother, and then wooed the hearts of the nation of Israel before taking David’s throne in a coup. Now he was seeking David’s head on a platter. This is why David in the wilderness.
It is from this desert setting that David cries out:
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.
This reminds me of a hiking trip I took with the men of our church at Lake Sonoma. It was the first overnight journey I had ever under taken and I wasn’t prepared for how hungry and thirsty I would be. I was so thirsty. I never had to rely so much on a water bottle before. And I couldn’t even imagine hiking like that in the summer heat without streams to keep my bottle filled. The amount of water you would have to carry for such a journey without the possibility of refilling would have been far too heavy a burden.
Well David didn’t get to choose his hike. He was forced out into the wilderness. A stream for him would have been a life saving find.
So he says: In a dry and weary land where there is no water, I thirst for…. GOD(?) One would think that David would say… well, water! But during a time of trial, the thing we think we need the most… a healing, a check in the mail, a restored relationship… often takes a back seat… to a swelling need within our hearts… for God Himself.
David longs for God just as his flesh longs for water.
Often we wonder why we don’t find more satisfaction in our religious activities. Howard Hendricks once wrote: “Much of our religious activity today is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life!”
We aren’t satisfied because often we are terrified of the desert. And the desert is where we feel our need for God the most.
When things come our way that we don’t understand we have more than a curiosity about God. We have more than a desire to go to church to see our friends. Bible reading becomes more than just a duty… it becomes a life line.
WE WANT GOD! Nothing else will quench our thirst.
Hear the words of C. S. Lewis: “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” (Mere Christianity)
Are you in the desert? Through your own doing or the perhaps the sin of another? Seek God as you would seek water! He alone can sustain you there.
[more on Psalm 63 in blogs to follow]