Summary: An expositional message on the faithfulness of God and the primacy of praise.
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
“The Song That Satisfies the Soul”
August 11, 2002
The Text: Psalm 63
The Text Summary:
In the midst of great trouble the Psalmist remembers God’s consistent protection in the past, praises Him for His anticipated provision now, and renews his own trust in His loving providence for the future.
The Text Outline: (The Coverdale Psalter)
I. The believer finds his help and satisfaction in God (vv.1-2).
a. The believer seeks God earnestly.
b. The believer seeks God entirely.
II. The believer praises the provision, protection, power, and providence of God (vv.3-8).
a. This praise involves remembering and retelling God’s mighty acts of redemption in the past (“Because thou hast been my helper; therefore under the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” v.8).
b. This praise involves realizing God’s mighty acts of redemption now (“As long as I live I will magnify thee…and lift up my hands in thy name” v.5).
c. This praise anticipates God’s mighty acts of redemption for the future (“My soul shall be satisfied…when my mouth praiseth thee with joyful lips” v. 6).
III. The believer exercises trust in the future faithfulness of the Lord (vv. 9-12).
a. The believer relies upon God (“My soul hangeth upon thee” v. 9).
b. The believer receives rescue from God (“These also that seek the hurt of my soul, they shall go under the earth” v. 10).
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.
My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth after thee,
in a barren and dry land where no water is
(Ps. 63:1-2, Coverdale Psalter).
It seems there was a certain man stranded and lost in the desert of Death Valley. He was crawling across the burning sand, dying of thirst, when he happened upon a necktie salesman. “Can I interest you, sir, in a nice, new, hand-dyed silk necktie?” the salesman queried. “Have you lost your mind?” the man gasped. “I am dying of thirst and you want to sell me a necktie?!” The salesman shrugged his shoulders and went on his way, while thirsty man resumed his crawling. Finally, after hours of crawling in the desert sand the man came upon an unbelievable sight. There, in the middle of the desert, was a huge restaurant with flashing neon lights and a parking lot filled with cars. The desperate man mustered the energy and crawled to the restaurant’s front door. He whispered to the restaurant’s doorman, “Please, help me in. I am dying of thirst and must have something to drink.” The doorman replied with a disapproving frown, “I am sorry, sir, gentlemen are not admitted to this restaurant without a necktie.”
Thirsting and longing for God. How many of us here this morning could admit honestly to a thirst and a longing for God? Not many of us, probably. That isn’t to say that we don’t long for something; we do. It is rather to only admit that for most of us the object of our longing isn’t God.
In his helpful commentary on the psalms, the late James Montgomery Boice says that in every Christian worship service there are present three types of people. The first are those who are Christian in name only. Like the curious who followed Jesus everywhere during His earthly ministry, these folks appear to be disciples of the Lord but only hang around as long as the signs and wonders and free food hold out. The second types of people present, according to Boice, are those who follow the Lord Jesus, but follow at a distance. Like St. Peter at Jesus’ arrest in the garden, they are followers, but they don’t want to risk anything or be discovered by others to be followers. And the third types of people present in Christian worship are those who come wanting God. These be they who follow Christ—not for the sake of the benefits, nor fearful of the cost, but simply because they know that only God can satisfy the deepest yearnings of the human soul.
David, Israel’s shepherd-king, was one of these. He is the author of the beautiful and stirring psalm appointed for this morning: Psalm 63. According the psalm’s superscription, or rubric beneath the psalm’s numeric designation found in our Bibles but not the Prayer Book Psalter, Psalm 63 is a psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. We only know of two times that David was in the desert of Judah: the first was when he was on the run from Saul, and second was when he was on the run from son, Absalom. Psalm 63 clearly describes the latter exile.
The historical background for the appeals made in Psalm 63 is recorded for us vividly in II Samuel chapters 15-19. David’s son, Absalom, spent four years winning the hearts and loyalty of the people of Israel from his father. When he felt politically strong enough, Absalom instigated a rebellion against David and set up a rival kingship in Hebron. Unprepared, David had to flee Jerusalem for the desert of Judah with those few who remained loyal to him. You will notice verse 10 of Psalm 63 speaks of those “that seek the hurt of my soul”—literally the destruction of David’s life—and at the head of that pack was his son. Can you imagine the pain and anguish David must have felt knowing the son of his own body was out to cut his throat. You see, not only was David on the run and physically present in the desert of Judah, but he was in an emotional and spiritual desert as well. And it was there, in that lonely, arid, dangerous land, the king called out to God—the only one he knew that could save him and satisfy the deepest longings of his soul.