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Sunday, June 13, 2021

“Your Love Is Better Than Life” Psalm 63 [Matt's Messages]

“Your Love Is Better Than Life”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
June 13, 2021 :: Psalm 63

I was so thirsty!

This week, my oldest son Andrew took me on a 15.5 mile hike in the Quehanna Wild Area. And let me tell you, that place is aptly named. It is not tame! We saw some beautiful sights including some amazing wildlife–two newborn fawns, one still being licked by its mom. And also a huge Elk with its antlers in velvet. It was so majestic!

Drew and I were out for about 6 hours, and we took along lunch and some snacks to keep our energy up. And I carried with me 2 full water bottles.

That was not enough!

I got so thirsty. The weather was nice. It wasn’t too hot. There was a breeze. And there was shade a lot of the time. But all of that walking and walking and walking takes a lot out of you, which you need to replace. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! 

I was so thirsty.

Do you feel my thirst? I’ll bet you’re feeling thirsty just because I’m saying the word “thirsty.”

In Psalm 63, King David was thirsty. 

The superscription of Psalm 63 says that he wrote it about or when he was in the Desert of Judah. One of those many times when David was a fugitive on the run from somebody who wanted to harm him.

It could have been King Saul or more probably King David’s own son Absalom (2 Samuel 15-17). 

Somebody had chased King David out into the Judean wilderness.

And he was so thirsty.

So thirsty that he wrote a song about it!

But the thirst that David wrote his song about wasn’t primarily physical but spiritual thirst.

He was thirsty for God. Psalm 63, verse 1.

“A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. 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.”


Do you feel David’s thirst?

He wasn’t in the Quehanna Wild Area. He was in the desert. The wilderness of Judah was (v.1), a “dry and weary land where there is no water.”

You can just feel how sapped he must have felt. How needy he was. How worn out.

He was literally in that arid place.

But he used that dry location to illustrate what his soul needed. He wasn’t just thirsty for water, he was thirsty for God.

“My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you...”

That’s his whole being! David knew that with his whole being he was thirsty for God.

This psalm is a sister psalm, or at least a cousin, to Psalm 42 which we studied together back in October. That’s the one by the sons of Korah that says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

That’s how David feels here, too.

He feels a dying thirst for the living God.

King David knew that his desperate spiritual thirst had been satisfied before when he had encountered God in worship. Verse 2.

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.”

David knows what will satisfy his thirst. There was a time in the past when he saw God with the eyes of his heart and knew His power and His glory. He was wowed by the glory of God in worship.

So David wants more of that. He wants more of God.

He knows that God is the ultimate satisfaction and nothing compares to Him. V.3

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

That’s an amazing statement right there! That’s where we get our message title for today. It’s how David felt about His Lord. It’s how precious David knew that his God was. 

“Your love is better than life.”

What other things would you put in that category?

What things are better than life itself?

No matter what you put in that category, it’s going to be a short list. Right?

Some would put their family.
Some would put their honor.
Some would put their nation’s freedoms.

It’s really a question of what would you die for?

What is more precious than life itself?

For King David it was the love of God.

Some versions have “lovingkindness.” Some have “steadfast love.” Some have “unfailing love.”

The Hebrew word is “hesed.” We’ve seen it again and again this year as we’ve studied the fortifying truth of the Psalms.

Hesed is God unending loyal love. Faithful and loving at the same time. Lovingly faithful and faithfully loving.

According to David, God’s love is better than life itself.

In other words, God is the soul-quenching water for our spiritual thirst.

And that’s why David seeks Him in the desert.

I have three points of application that arise from Psalm 63, and each point is just one word that captures what we should do today because the hesed of God is better than life itself.

Here’s number one:

#1. SEEK!

Seek God.

Listen to what David sings in verse 1 again.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;”

David knows where soul satisfaction is truly found. “I seek you.”

You know that we are all spiritually thirsty, right? We were made to worship, and even in our most fallen condition, we still worship. We just gotta worship something.

Everybody is seeking something.

Everybody is thirsty.

Remember when Jesus talked to the woman at the well? He knew that she was thirsty. 

And He knew that He was water.

King David knew that God was soul-quenching water, and so that’s why he sought Him out in the desert.

And why he named God as his God. Did you catch that in the very first line?

“O God, you are my God.” 

“I choose to find my soul’s satisfaction in you.”  “Earnestly I seek you.”

Can you say that you do the same?

All too often, I find myself earnestly trying to fill my spiritual thirst with the wrong things. 

I seek pleasure or popularity or possessions as if they will satisfy the cravings of my soul. 

And it seems to work for a few seconds, and then I’m thirsty again.

But Jesus told the woman at the well, “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Seek Him.

There was water in the Quehanna Wild Area. In fact, Andrew knew of a fresh spring that he had filled his water bottle from before. And we filled up both of my bottles again. (And I drank both of them before we got home!).

David knew where the water was, so he sought it, and it was better than life.

And here’s number two:

#2. SING!

Seek and Sing.

Notice what David says he’s going to do because God’s hesed is better than life. Look again at verse 3.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

He’s going to sing about it!

David is promising in the desert to sing about the steadfast love of the Lord. V.4

“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Do you hear all of the singing words in there?

And how forward focused David is? He is committing himself to singing, no matter what.

He is going to sing as long as he lives.

And he’s going to life up his hands.

Do you do that? Do you lift up your hands when you sing?

Not to show off. But to direct your worship upward? To honor God?

“In your name I will lift up my hands.”

Notice the soul satisfaction again in verse 5. The “soul” stands for the whole essential being of a person, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.”

The Hebrew there is literally something like, “with the fatness and the fatness.” Two different words for fatness. 

More than needed. Way beyond what is needed. 

David says that he knows that in God, he will have much more than He needs!

God is not just soul-quenching water. He is a soul-satisfying feast!

It is so good to know the love of God.

It is better, so much better than life.

One of my favorite meals all year is Easter Dinner. Heather Joy makes her famous seven layer salad (with a layer of bacon and mayonnaise in there!), and she makes carrot casserole, and smashed potatoes with gravy, and bunch of other things, and at the center is a ham with an apricot glaze with cloves in it. And she bakes it to perfection so that the skin is like meat candy. It’s so good.

It’s “the fatness and the fatness.”

And eating it is so satisfying.

That’s what David says the Lord is like.

And what does he do about it?

Notice how I just sang Heather’s praises for her meal?

David says that he will sing about God’s hesed in that same way. “With singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Do you sing about how good it is to know God’s love?

I have tried to emphasize singing in every single pastoral letter for the last 65 weeks.

Have you noticed it in the postscripts? The P.S.’s? 

David might not feel like singing right now. He’s in the desert. He’s on the run. He’s thirsty in more ways than one. And there may be no end in sight.

But still he sings.

There have been a lot of days in the last 65 weeks that I have not felt like singing. Including a bunch of Sundays.

But the hesed of God is better than life, therefore we sing.

Even at nighttime.  Look at verse 6.

“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”

It sounds like David can’t sleep.

It sounds like he’s having a sleepless night.

That’s no fun!

He’s in bed. He’s not on watch, but he’s awake during all three of the watches of the night. 

Have you ever had a sleepless night? A long sleepless night? What do you do with it?

David says, “Try singing.”

Look at sleeplessness as an opportunity to rehearse what you know about the steadfast love of the Lord.

“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”

So often, when I’m awake in the middle of the night, I’m thinking about my problems, about my worries, about the things that make me anxious.

And obviously, David thought about his enemies, too.

But when he couldn’t sleep, he redirected his soul to sing. V.7

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

God is not just soul-quenching water.
He is not even just a soul-satisfying feast.
God is also a soul-securing shade.

“I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

The illustration is a baby bird safe under the wings of the mommy bird.

David sees himself as a baby chick that feels sheltered and secure under the overhang of God’s protective wing.

Which leads to point number three.

#3. CLING!

Seek. Sing. And cling.

If God is that kind of a safe place, then the only smart thing is to run to Him and stick close by. Verse 8.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

There’s that word “soul” again. David’s whole essential being clings to God.

He grabs hold and doesn’t let go.

But the amazing thing about verse 8 is not how strong David’s grip is, but how strong God’s grip is.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

We hang on, because He hangs on to us.

In the last few verses of this song, it turns from a plaintive song of longing and almost lament into a hymn of confidence and hope.

King David clings to God because He knows God’s hesed, God’s faithful love.

And he knows that God will ultimately solve all of his problems. David fully believes in God’s justice and faithfulness will sort it all out. Verse 9.

“They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God's name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.”

It hasn’t happened yet. But it’s going to.

Right now, David is in the desert on the run, but he believes that one day soon God will destroy his enemies and silence their false accusations.

How much more can we who live on this side of the Cross and the Empty Tomb and the pouring out of the Spirit can we be sure that all of our enemies will suffer the same fate?

Like we saw last week in Psalm 110. Our Lord will win and win and win, and all of His enemies will one day become a footstool for His feet.

That’s why we run to Him and cling to Him and place ourselves under His wing.

V.11 again. “[A]ll who swear by God's name will praise him...”

All who are loyal to Him will find out that He is loyal to them.

They will learn and rejoice that the loyal love of God is better than life.


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 11
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32

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