Summary: Even in the midst of trouble, His right hand upholds us.
FOLLOWING HARD AFTER GOD
As we enter into Psalm 63, there is both an intimacy with God, and a yearning after God. It was as if David was saying, ‘I know thee, but would know thee more.’ The Psalmist is not just on the fringes of faith, like the boy’s father in Mark 9:24 - ‘Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief’ - but is yearning after a renewed experience of a relationship which already exists: “You are my God” (Psalm 63:1).
This is a day in the life of the believer: “Early” will I seek You (Psalm 63:1) all the way through to “the night watches” (Psalm 63:6). God is not limited in time or space, so we look for Him wherever, in whatsoever situation we are: in the “dry and thirsty land” (Psalm 63:1) as well as “in the sanctuary” (Psalm 63:2).
The intensity of the Psalmist’s desire is compared to his thirst in a place of no water (Psalm 63:1) - but finds its relief in a feast of good things (literally “as marrow and fat” Psalm 63:5). His very flesh longs for God (Psalm 63:1), and he anticipates a bodily response: lips praising God (Psalm 63:3), the lifting of hands in worship (Psalm 63:4), and the mouth singing praise with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5). Meanwhile, as we shall see, the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped (Psalm 63:11).
At the heart of this whole expected experience is the covenant love of God: “Thy loving kindness better than life” (Psalm 63:3). This is not our love for God, but that which precedes it: His love for us (cf. John 3:16; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 4:19). We “bless” Him (Psalm 63:4) because He first blessed us (cf. Ephesians 1:3).
According to the superscription of this Psalm, David composed it in the wilderness of Judah. This would most likely fit in with the time of his son Absalom’s rebellion, when King David fled Jerusalem. We can imagine him remembering his God as he lay wakeful on his wilderness bed (Psalm 63:6).
The Psalmist would remember how the LORD had been his help hitherto (Psalm 63:7), for example when he had been on the run from King Saul. David would remember how God had been his Shepherd when he was a shepherd boy (Psalm 23:1). The King knew well how to rejoice “under the shadow of His wings” (Psalm 63:7), even in the midst of afflictions (cf. Philippians 4:12-13).
Our following after God should be like this: a clinging to Him, a cleaving to Him even as Ruth to Naomi (Ruth 1:14). This is what it is to “follow hard after” Him (Psalm 63:8). When we do so, we find His “right hand upholds” us (Psalm 63:8).
While David sought God, there were those who were actively seeking his life, and he prophesied concerning their end (Psalm 63:9-10). David’s grief after the death of Absalom demonstrates that this is not vindictive, but judicial (cf. Psalm 1:4-6). Ultimately, it is the Lord who will stop the mouths of those who come against His people (Psalm 63:11; cf. Romans 3:19).
With renewed confidence, even as he was still seeking a nearer experience of God in the midst of his enemies, David could affirm: “the king shall rejoice in God” (Psalm 63:11). This is similar to Jesus’ undertaking: He would ‘endure the Cross, despising its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2) foreseeing the prospect of ‘bringing many sons into glory’ (Hebrews 2:10). It is for God’s glory that God responds - and everyone who “swears to God”, or keeps to this faith, shall glory in Him (Psalm 63:11).