In the opening lines of Psalm 63, we read these immortal words, penned by David:
O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
I think, every time I’ve read this verse, I’ve read it this way: David is telling God how much passion he has for Him. And he’s telling us too, by writing it down. “Here is how much I love God—my heart longs for him! Even my flesh is part of this. I get up early to seek God.” It’s a beautiful sentiment. There’s a lot to learn by way of David’s example. We can read it and think, “Yes, that’s how I should feel for God.” And sometimes, we do.
But this morning I read this verse again, and heard something totally different. See if you can follow me here…
First let’s just isolate out the two things David says about himself:
My soul thirsts for you.
My flesh longs for you.
Is David proclaiming how much he loves God here? Well, sure, in one way of looking at it. He had just said, “You are my God!” The rest of the Psalm follows these lines as well. David totally loves God. But there’s more to hear in these words. Imagine writing out the emphasis this way:
My soul thirsts… for you.
My flesh longs…for you.
Or to say it another way:
I had always had this dull ache inside. This longing for something…more. It was right at the center of who I was. And it was never satisfied. And then…I found You, in the sanctuary (v.2), and I encountered Your power, Your glory, and Your lovingkindness (v.3). And then I knew what I’d been searching for all along. God—it’s You that my soul longs for—Your power, Your glory, Your love.
And when I discovered that, I discovered that my body, too, actually longs for You. I’d always thought that all these physical problems were just part of being human. Pain, sickness, weakness—just normal life. But then I met You. And I discovered that, not just my heart, but my flesh too longs for You. Why is there so much physical struggling in the world? Because our bodies need You in ways this fallen world can’t support.
God, it’s You. You’re the One who fills a soul and makes it love life. You’re the one who totally fulfills men and women—closeness to You, friendship with You. Your joy, peace, and love are what we need to give us…even the will to live. And Your fellowship makes life worth living—forever, in fact. Your love is better than life.
So now, no matter what happens, I know that my soul will be satisfied, and then, one day, even my body will experience this total fulfillment and perfection (Psalm 17:15).
I think that’s all in those few words. David is sharing his discovery with us. All his longing was really longing for God. It’s a realization that changed his life.
With all this extra time that many of us have (not all of us, true, but a lot of us), may I throw out this challenge? Sometimes when things slow down, we hear our hearts better. It’s harder to ignore the longings within. Or maybe, inactivity and isolation have even stirred up a bunch of new restless feelings. But in every longing, instead of thinking, “Man, I really wish I could…” maybe think, “My soul is hungry for God.” Or even better: “God, my soul is hungry for you. Closeness to you is actually what I’m longing for.” Yes, we weren’t meant to be cooped up inside. We weren’t meant to be inactive. We were meant to do things that matter, so it’s hard not to do any of that. But…when your life is full of activity, does that actually fill your heart? Or do you still feel that need for something more, right under the surface?
That’s how you know David’s words are the truth. God’s loving kindness is better than normal life. Or social life. Or campus life. Or career life. His presence is true fulfillment. Full fulfillment. Which is why David also wrote:
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
My friends, there are a lot of ways to redeem this time. But let’s not forget to attend to the main thing our soul needs—closeness to God.