PSALM 63 - Following Hard After God.
1. A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
During the period when Saul sought his life, David fled and found refuge in a cave. While there, he was warned by a prophet to leave the 'hold' (his place of refuge) and go to the wilderness of Judah (1Sam 22:5; 23:14,15). As Saul relentlessly pursued, David frequently relocated his camp within this wilderness. From the time that David was in the cave, he knew the LORD as his only true refuge (Psalm 142).
     David wrote Psalm 63 during a time of danger and duress. Yet, in this prayer, he yearns for much more than protection from his enemies.
O God, thou [art] my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee,
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2 To see thy power and thy glory,
so [as] I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
O God {HB=Elohim}, thou are my God {HB=Eli}...-
For David, God was more than a theological concept. He is a Person ('Thou'), with Whom he had a personal relationship ('my God', eg., Psa 31:14; 42:11; 91:2).
...early will I seek thee...- ie., 'from dawn I diligently pursue Thee.'
My urgent, eager and all consuming purpose is: to know my God. soul thirsteth for thee... my flesh longeth {ie., faints} for thee...-
This desire to know God involves my whole being (Psa 84:2).
In the NT, the 'flesh' often refers to the fleshly nature which is contrary to the spiritual nature, and in conflict with the Spirit of God (eg., Gal 5:17). That is not the sense here. Rather, the picture is of soul and body united and moved by the Holy Spirit in a single-minded pursuit of God. a dry and thirsty land where no water is.-
David was in a physical desert when he wrote this psalm (see the title).
But his thirst was not for physical water, but for the LORD. The land was spiritually dry because He could not be readily found there. Judah, the tribe from which David and his greater Son, Jesus, sprang, was home to God's people. Yet, few truly knew their God. Most were unreceptive to Him, like barren, hard, sun baked ground, which cannot absorb the early rains. They failed to retain the resource which He had given them in Himself, preferring to seek refreshment elsewhere (see Jer 2:13). Because Israel did not thirst for Him, God has temporarily withheld the knowledge which they desperately need (Amos 8:11,12).
     But David, and that greater Son, thirsted deeply and sought earnestly for Him (for "Eli"). From eternity past, our Savior was One with the Father, enjoying an unbroken intimacy of fellowship, beyond our comprehension. It was at the point of separation from the Father, as Jesus took our sin upon Himself, that He cried out "My God, My God..." (Psa 22:1,2; Mat 27:45,46). Through the agony of that separation, God opened the way for believers to call Him 'my God' (Joh 20:17).
     This psalm is, at once, a prayer of David, and of our Lord Jesus, and of those who belong to Him. see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.-
Yet, this yearning was not only for the quiet peace of His Presence, but also to see God move as He had in the days of old, about which he had learned in the House of God (the 'sanctuary' is HB=qodesh, holy place, eg., Psa 68:24; 77:13,14). ie., 'In God's House, I have heard how the power of God was displayed, in the days of Moses and Elijah and Elisha (etc.). I long to see such power today, victorious over temptations within, and the Tempter without... I long to see the active working of God's power to heal and satisfy, not only my sin parched condition, but also that of the many troubled souls around me.'
     "The holy place" can also be the "place apart" where I meet God and hear, from Him, His purposes for the future (eg., Psa 27:4; Joh 15:15; Rev 3:20), and then, coming forth from that place, watch expectantly for Him to do what He has said He will do.
3. Because thy lovingkindness [is] better than life,
my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live:
I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Because thy lovingkindness {HB=checed, mercy, steadfast love} is better than life...-
A man's life is short and fleeting. God's mercy endures forever. Those who turn to Him for mercy are embraced in His love and grace, as His own. Joined to Him, His people live with Him forever (see Psa 23:6; 30:5; 73:24-26). lips shall praise thee.-
Lips which are able to praise, must be alive (Psa 30:9). The gift of Life through God's lovingkindness is cause for praise (Rom 6:23).
     Praise can be expressed in various ways. In v.3, 'praise' is HB=shabach {to speak with appreciation, to soothe}. These are soft words of love.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.-
The word 'bless' {HB=barak} means: to kneel, to do homage.
In what ways may I do homage by lifting my hands in His name?
  • By lifting them toward Him in prayer and song. Psa 134:2; 145:1-3
  • By lifting them for Him: "Whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." Col 3:17
  • By touching others with the power of His Gospel: Jesus lifted His hands to touch lepers, to open eyes, ears, mouths, and to raise the dead. His power, working through us, can touch the spiritually unclean, blind, deaf, dumb and dead. eg., Psa 90:17; Isa 52:7; Mat 28:18-20; Rom 1:16
5 My soul shall be satisfied as [with] marrow and fatness;
and my mouth shall praise [thee] with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed,
[and] meditate on thee in the [night] watches.
My soul shall be satisfied {ie., filled full, satiated} as with marrow and fatness...-
Here is the answer to the hunger and thirst of v.1... my soul satisfied richly and abundantly, with meat that most 'know not of' (Joh 4:32,34). cp. Psa 65:4; Isa 25:6; Eph 3:20
...and my mouth shall praise {HB=halal} thee with joyful lips...-
This word for 'praise' means: to boast of, to glory in. Psa 34:2; 1Cor 1:31
My boast is of God. He is the One in whom I glory. This is the meaning of Halelujah. This boast is uttered from lips which are not only alive, but full of joy for who God is and what He has done. cp. Psa 30:10-12
...when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.-
This joyful praise does not need to wait for the fulfillment of the promises, or for the full realization of the victory. The eye of faith can rejoice in the substance of that which is certain to come.
- When do I rejoice?
  • ...upon my bed... - of affliction, of sorrow, of sleeplessness...
    - in reflection on the troubles and blessings of the day.
  • the night watches... -
    when soldiers or shepherds keep lonely vigil, guarding against lurking dangers.
What is the source of this joyful praise? "I remember thee... and meditate on thee."
     "Jesus, the very thought of thee, with sweetness fills the breast..." [excerpt from a hymn]
The yearning to see God's power is met by knowing and considering His Person (who He is).
     (It is 'Thee' for Whom my inner being thirsts. v.1)
7. Because thou hast been my help,
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee:
thy right hand upholdeth me.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore, in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.-
The yearning to see God's power exercised in His time, is assured and secured, by my past experience. "Thou hast been my help, therefore..." I take joyful refuge in your protection and guardianship, "in the shadow of thy wings." But this is not a place of cowering, and anxious waiting for the storms of life to pass. Rather, it is the place of assured victory, as the Hebrew word for "rejoice" is the ringing 'shout for joy' of those who have overcome (eg., Psa 5:11).
My soul followeth hard after thee...-
'Followeth hard' is HB=dabaq, to cling to, to stick close to. The following verses illustrate its meaning: Gen 2:24 ('cleave': the first biblical occurrence); Deu 10:20; 13:4 ('cleave')
'Following hard' after the Lord, involves forsaking all others, to belong only to Him.
Thy right hand upholdeth me.-
Those, who keep close to Him (because they belong wholly to Him), are kept by Him. (eg., Deu 11:22,23 'cleave' in v.22) and also enabled by Him (Deu 11:24,25).
No enemy can pluck them out of His hand (John 10:27-30).
Nothing can hinder His purposes for His own, for His hand moves in the power of His righteousness. Isa 40:10; 41:10; Rom 8:28
9 But those [that] seek my soul, to destroy [it],
shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword:
they shall be a portion for foxes.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
every one that sweareth by him shall glory:
but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.-
Those who exercise their unrighteous powers against me (one whom God protects), will fail in their purposes against me, and also in their attempts to preserve themselves. Psa 35:4; 9:15-17
  • David's enemies fell: eg., Saul... Absalom...
  • Our Lord's enemies lie silent: eg., Caiaphas... Pilate...
    Yet, they will see Him when He comes in His glory as Judge of all. Mat 26:64
  • The enemies of God's people will be consumed and cast into the pit, when Christ returns as King. Rev 19:17-21
They shall fall by the sword, they shall be a portion for foxes
(and also for the fowl of the air). ie., There will be nothing left of them.
But the king shall rejoice in God... (see Psa 21:1)
...every one that sweareth by him shall glory...-
To 'swear by' someone is to make oneself accountable to that person. Examples:
  • Gen 21:23 - The first biblical occurrence:
    Abimelech required Abraham to 'swear by God' to ensure that he would keep his word.
  • Gen 22:16 - The Lord swore by Himself. cp. Heb 6:13,14.
Who is the 'Him' of v.11, by whom believers swear?
  - The King who rejoices in God... or God Himself?
     Answer: "I and my Father are one." (Joh 10:30)
Those who thirst for Him, and gladly subject themselves to Him, shall 'glory' (HB=halal, make their boast) in Him.
...but the mouth of them that speak lies {deception, falsehood} shall be stopped.-
'Them that speak lies': eg., Joh 8:44,45; Rom 3:4; 1Joh 2:4,22
Though the Lord's enemies speak great swelling words against Him, and refuse to submit to His righteousness and truth, every knee will bow before Him (Isa 45:23; Php 2:10,11). Those, who reject God's Word and oppress His people, will be held accountable, and will find themselves speechless before the righteous Judge. Psa 31:18; Rom 3:19

This Concludes the study in Psalm 63.
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