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In this text there is a prostration, an appropriation, an obedience, and a now.
I. It is a great thing to have grand views of God, to get some approach to an idea of the exceeding greatness of God. We go to God too much for what we want to get. We ought to go to God, and meditate upon Him, and worship Him for what He is in Himself His attributes, His glory.
II. Important as this is, it is of infinitely more importance to be able to say, "Thou art my God." This is faith. Nature can say, "O God;" but only the believer can say, "My God."
III. To those who can say that, the last part of David's words and his firm resolve will come as a very easy and a necessary thing; they cannot help saying it: "Early will I seek Thee." For it is attraction that does it. The secret of all true religion is attraction. As soon as God is "my God," there is a force which compels me to it; I cannot help coming nearer and nearer to Him; it is my necessity; it is my life.
IV. True religion is essentially an early thing. "They that seek Me early shall find Me." It is the spring seeds that make the richest harvests, and a God sought early will be a God found ever.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 9th series, p. 189.
I. The Psalmist stood alone, we will suppose, at the tent-door watching the night. The light of moon and stars fell on a wide, grassless, unwatered country, spread far and wide before him; and the low, indefinite sounds of the desert crept up to his feet, bringing with them the sense of mystery and awe, and sent their quiet with a touch of trouble to his heart. The mystery of night and solitude created a vague longing, the impression of the thirsty land deepened the longing through association with the appetite of thirst, and both became, wrought upon in that receptive moment by the excited spirit, the longing of the soul for union with the mystery and love of God.
II. Brought through nature to prayer, he remembers old days when God was near to him. The soul of the man is now alone with God, and communes with Him by memory. Doubt and hardness of heart depart. Sorrow is round the Psalmist, but he forgets it; difficulty before him, but it seems nothing. He loses self, and bursts in the midst of sadness into joy. "Thy loving-kindness is better than life; my lips shall praise Thee," etc.
III. The rush of joy ceases at the end of the sixth verse, and the meditative part of the song begins with the seventh. The experience is over: the trouble, the prayer, the recollection, the joy. The result is twofold: the sense of God's righteousness as his own, the sense of joy in trust in God. And both brought peace into his heart. "My soul trusted in Thee. Thy righteousness clings close to me."
IV. The sense of being God's own care, of being at one with Him, leads the Psalmist beyond, outside himself. He loses himself in prayer for others. The Psalm that began in self-consciousness ends in self-forgetfulness.
S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 80.
What thirst means in a tropical wilderness none but those who have passed through it can tell. It is an overpowering and a paralysing need. All this the Psalmist had felt. He had wandered in his shepherd days through those vast and gorgeous wildernesses; he had felt what thirst was; and when, in later days, he lay upon his bed, the contrast between the grandeur of that scenery and his unconquerable thirst became to him a parable of life. As in the long marches through the desert sands, in the awful blaze of an Eastern noon, he had sighed for the pasture land and the springs, so life seemed but a dry and weary waste until his soul was satisfied with the sight of God. It is a parable of the life, not of the Psalmist only, but of the world; it is a picture of God's education of our race. He does not all at once satisfy our mouth with good things. He teaches us through the discipline of thirst and want. He lets each age tread its own path, work out its own problems, cope with its own difficulties, and be brought to Him at last by the constraining force of an unsatisfied desire.
I. If we look at the first ages of our faith, we see that it did not all at once convince men of its truth, as the sun that rose this morning told all who had eyes to see that a light was shining. Men came by it by many paths, and the greatest of all these paths led them through the splendid scenery of philosophy. To the better sort of men philosophy was a passion; it absorbed all the other interests of life. Side by side with philosophy was superstition. It was not until all other waters had been found to be bitter that the mass of educated men came to drink of the living water which the Christian faith supplied the water of the knowledge of God in Christ.
II. The parable is being fulfilled again before our eyes in our own time. Alike from the mountain-tops, and the ravines, and the far-off stars, and from the depths of the deep seas, there shine out splendours upon splendours of new knowledge and new possibilities of knowledge, which seem to lift us into a higher sphere of living than that which to our forefathers was possible. It is splendid scenery, the world has never seen its like, but splendid as it is, there are needs, the deepest needs of the soul, which it does not, which it cannot, satisfy. Consciously or unconsciously, in a thousand different ways, men in our time are thirsting for God.
III. And that thirst is satisfied. To the simple-minded Psalmist the satisfaction was to appear before the visible symbol of God's presence at Jerusalem. The soul's satisfaction is to realise the presence of God. The other name for it is faith. It is the seeing of Him who is invisible.
E. Hatch, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 40.
I. Consider the prayer of the Psalm. For what does David pray? Not for what we might have prayed had we been in his circumstances. Put yourself in his place a fugitive in the wilderness on the edge of what seems ruin. Most of us would have had only one prayer, viz., to be lifted out of the mire. But no prayer for material advantage rises from David's lips. What he wants is God. His prayer is for God to come nigh; he longs for God as in a dry and thirsty land where no water is.
II. Observe the elements of his prayer. (1) He wants the vision of God. Sight is the regal faculty, the clearest, surest, largest of the senses; and as you have seen some friend stand near you, so he has known God near to him: traced the features of the soul of God, seen Him in the sanctuary, as he was helped by the glow and tide of worship. (2) He wants the love of God. He had tasted it, and he says it is better than life. (3) He expects the help and the protection of God. With innumerable enemies, he wants an infinite defence, the shadow of a wing, soft, gentle, perfect protection. (4) There is the desire that God would vindicate his right. He expected and desired that God would plead the cause of his soul, and wherein he was right would take his part and give him his heart's desire.
III. Notice the lessons of this prayer. (1) Do not lightly part with your belief in God. (2) Pray more fervently. (3) In order to be able to pray, do as David tells you he did: "Follow hard after God."
R. Glover, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 228.
I. Take, first, the spiritual longings of the true believer, and it will be found, as a rule, that they have the following characteristics: (1) They are occasioned by some experience of trial; (2) they are founded on some past experience of God's goodness; and (3) they are finally and fully satisfied in God.
II. Consider the case of awakened sinners. Their misery is a hopeful condition if only they will rightly interpret their heart-yearnings, and go to the only source where they can be satisfied. It is for God the soul of the awakened sinner is crying; therefore let him beware of attempting to satisfy his heart with anything short of God. Turn from God on Sinai to God in Christ. Listen to Him who says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink."
III. Consider the heart-yearnings of the yet unconvinced worldling. In every soul there are sighings after happiness which, if men only understood them aright, are really thirstings after God. Until the heart be cured, all will be to us as to the Preacher: vanity and vexation. And this cure of heart God in Christ performs for us by His Holy Spirit.
W. M. Taylor, The Christian at Work, Sept. 4th, 1879.
The text might form a motto for what is termed, in the modern phrase, "personal religion."
I. "My God." The word does not represent a human impression, or desire, or conceit, but an aspect, a truth, a necessity of the Divine nature. When God, the perfect Being, loves the creature of His hand, He cannot divide His love. He must perforce love with the whole directness, and strength, and intensity of His being; for He is God, and therefore incapable of partial and imperfect action. And on his side, man knows that this gift of Himself by God is thus entire; and in no narrow spirit of ambitious egotism, but as grasping and representing the literal fact, he cries, "My God."
II. There are two causes within the soul which might indispose us for looking more truly and closely at the truth before us. (1) Of these causes, the first is moral; it is the state of unrepented, wilful sin. (2) The other cause is intellectual. It may without offence be described as the subjective spirit, which is so characteristic and predominant an influence in the thought of our day. In plain English, this spirit is an intellectual selfishness, which makes man, and not God, the monarch and centre of the world of thought.
III. In the truth that God has created us, we see much of the meaning of the Psalmist's words. But we see even more when we reflect that He has created us for Himself. That which would be selfishness in a creature is in the great Creator a necessary result of His solitary perfection. The knowledge and love of our Maker is not, like the indulgence of a sentiment or a taste, a matter of choice. For every man who looks God and life steadily in the face, it is a stern necessity. Not to serve God is. to be in the moral world that which a deformity or monster is in the world of animal existence. It is not only to defy the claims of God. It is to ignore the plain demands of our inner being, to do violence to the highest guidance of our mysterious and complex life.
H. P. Liddon, University Sermons, 1st series, p. 1.
References: Psalms 63:1 . F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 285; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 125.
I. Some of the characteristics of public worship. (1) The text suggests the promise of special nearness to God. The expression of the Psalmist is not only that he desires to see the power and glory of God in the sanctuary, but that he may realise communion with God Himself. In the sanctuary David looked for special nearness to God, the nearness of friendship, and reconciliation, and protection, and love. (2) What is the cause of this realised nearness to God in the sanctuary, and by what stages do we arrive at it? These stages are progressive, beginning with the enlightened mind, proceeding with the subjugated will, and ending in the surrendered affections, Heaven drawing us with its cords of love. (3) There is indicated in this desire of the Psalmist a heartfelt love to God, a growing delight in sacredness, a pleasure in worship, because we love Him whom we serve. Obedience is not obedience if it be not a heart-offering, returning love for love, and finding in the happiest feelings of our nature both the incentive to duty and its reward.
II. Notice the delight which, as the text suggests, we ought to feel in contemplated public worship. (1) A part of the joy which David would look for in the sanctuary would be the joy of spiritual repose. (2) Another part of the delight which the Psalmist found in public worship would be in its giving greater vividness to his anticipations of the bliss of the life to come.
D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3166.
References: Psalms 63:1 , Psalms 63:2 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1427; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 119.
This Psalm, with its passion of love and mystic rapture, is a monument for us of how the writer's sorrows had brought to him a closer union with God, as our sorrows may do for us, like some treasure washed to our feet by a stormy sea. The key to the arrangement of the Psalm will be found in the threefold recurrence of an emphatic word. In the first verse we read, "My soul thirsteth for Thee;" in the fifth verse, "My soul shall be satisfied;" in the eighth verse, "My soul followeth hard after Thee." These three points are the turning-points of the Psalm; and they show us the soul longing, the longing soul satisfied, and the satisfied soul still seeking.
I. We have the soul longing for God. (1) This longing is not that of a man who has no possession of God. Rather is it the desire of a heart which is already in union with Him for a closer union; rather is it the tightening of the grasp with which the man already holds his Father in heaven. All begins with the utterance of a personal, appropriating faith. (2) Upon that there are built earnest seeking, expressed in the words "Early" that is to say, "Earnestly" "will I seek Thee," and! the intensest longing, breathing in the pathetic utterance, "My soul thirsteth for Thee," etc. (3) Notice what it is, or rather whom it is, that the Psalmist longs for. "My soul thirsts for Thee." All souls do. Blessed are those who can say, "Thou art my God." (4) Notice when it was that this man thus longed. It was in the midst of his sorrow. (5) This longing, though it be struck out by sorrow, is not forced upon him for the first time by sorrow. The longing that springs in his heart is an old longing: "So have I gazed upon Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory." (6) This longing is animated by a profound consciousness that God is best: "Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life." (7) This longing is accompanied with a firm resolve of continuance: "Thus will I bless Thee while I live."
II. In the second portion of the Psalm, which is included in the next three verses, we have the longing soul satisfied. (1) The fruition of God is contemporaneous with the desire after God. (2) The soul that possesses God is fed full. (3) The satisfied soul breaks into the music of praise. (4) This satisfaction leads to a triumphant hope. The past of the seeking soul is the certain pledge of its future.
III. The final section of the Psalm gives us the satisfied soul still following after God. The word translated "followeth" here literally means to cleave or to cling. (1) "My soul cleaveth after God." Desire expands the heart; possession expands the heart. More of God comes when we can hold more of Him, and the end of all fruition is the renewed desire after further fruition. (2) There is also very beautifully here the co-operation and reciprocal action of the seeking soul and the sustaining God. We hold, and we are held. (3) The soul thus cleaving and following is gifted with a prophetic certainty. David's certainty of the destruction of his foes is the same triumphant assurance, on a lower spiritual level, as Paul's trumpet-blast of victory, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" etc.
A. Maclaren, Christ in the Heart, p. 243.
References: Psalms 63:2 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 251.Psalms 63:3 . J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages from the Psalms, pp. 162, 170. Psalms 63:7 . H. Allon, Congregationalist, vol. viii., pp. 305, 820; J. Armstrong, Parochial Sermons, p. 76; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 559; W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 214.Psalms 63:0 A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 250. Psalms 65:1 , Psalms 65:2 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 1023.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 63". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26