|The Barnabas Ministry
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.1 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.
2 I have seen you
in the sanctuary
3 Because your love
is better than life,
4 I will praise you
as long as I live,
5 My soul will be
satisfied as with the richest of foods;
6 On my bed I
7 Because you are
8 My soul clings to
9 They who seek my
life will be destroyed;
10 They will be
given over to the sword
11 But the king
will rejoice in God;
As always, we must begin a discussion of a text with a discussion of the context. Fortunately, the scripture tells us the context- "When he was in the Desert of Judah." Most commentators agree that this is a reference to the time when he was on the run from King Saul. We can read more about this in 1 Samuel 18-20.
So up until this point,
David had been anointed as future king, had
served as a leader in the army of Israel, had achieved great success,
yet was hated by King Saul and ultimately had fled for his life to the
about exepriencing some highs and lows in your life!
Discussion of Text
v1 To my recollection, the metaphors David used for seeking God were always Dan's favorite parts of this psalm. Seeking, thirsting, longing. Having grown up in Arizona, it was readily apparent to Dan what it was like to use these in reference to "a dry and weary land where there is no water." Even this metaphor of "a dry and weary land..." may refer to David's own heart and soul-- likening his spiritual need and bewilderment to a dry and weary land without water. Yet, he knew who had the "water."
v2-5 David could easily
remember the good times-- "I have seen you in the
santuary, and beheld your power and glory." God was the center of his
worship experiences and his spiritual life.
v9-10 He speaks of those
who "seek his life." This is no doubt referring
to Saul's henchmen who had been ordered to track down and destroy
David. As an abusive leader, Saul wasn't content to simply let David
just go away. He sought David out to kill him, and to retain his own
position of authority, control and power. David's words about
them being "given over to the sword" reflect
knowledge that God would sustain his justice, not that David
necessarily wished evil upon those seeking him. This is a subtle but
v11 David's previous
anointing at the hands of Samuel
would eventually lead to him being the king. David's way of dealing
with his circumstances was certainly informed by his faith in what God
had promised to do in his future. In addition, David planned to live as
king the same way he was living in this desert- rejoicing in God.
Though David clearly had his failings as king, he goes down in history
as the greatest king of Israel.
Application for Today
Most people with any kind of church experiences have had bad or hurtful elements to that experience. For some, they are particularly hurtful and damaging, and they can know that David had a similar thing going on in his life. He had served Israel greatly, yet was despised and hated by its leader and chased into exile in disgrace. How David made sense of this can help us today.
v1-8 David was concerned about God, not Saul. When wrong is done to us, this is a hard transition to make. Especially, we tend to equate spiritual leaders with God himself-- if we have the leader's approval, we have God's approval. If we don't have the leader's approval, we don't have God's approval. Unfortunately, some leaders are eager to enhance this connection. David was able to separate these, and this psalm paves the way for us to do the same.
v1 Times of despair are
equated with one suffering in a desert.
What a metaphor! While we often want relief from our circumstances, the
one who provides relief is God and our drawing near to him. This is
truly a shot to our pride and desire to control things, but the true
way to peace in our lives. God bypasses the difficult circumstances and
oppressive people, and gives us peace directly.
v2-5 God was the
center of David's spiritual life. How well
we can learn from this in a day when glitz, personality, programs and
positions seem to dominate many parts of the religious landscape. And
how well we ought to remember this when those things fail us and our
souls are wounded deeply because of it. David resolved to praise God as
an integral part of
his spiritual life.
And what will heaven be, if not a time of praising God? Yet it is
something we can do here and now, no matter what our circumstances.
v6-8 Often I find myself
lamenting "why" through my poor
desiring some understanding. And there are some psalms where the "why"
question is asked. Chances are, we wouldn't be able to understand why a
lot of things happen anyway. But remembering how God works, and how
him work in the past, can speak to us at
these times, just as they spoke to David.
v9-11- Few of us have
prophets roaming around
anointing us as
future kings in our youth; we don't always know what our future will
hold. Yet, we can know that God has a purpose custom-made for all of
us, and it
will be realized in spite of the schemes of others or hardships along
the way. It just unfolds one day at a time. God's ultimate purpose for
all of us is to be with him in heaven (2 Corinthians 5).
|Dan Rice and John Engler before Dan's
Boulder, Colorado March 24, 1990
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Copyright © 2008 John Engler. All rights reserved.