Verses 1-8 of Psalm 63 are included in this week’s lectionary readings. They express spiritual longing that is like physical longing.
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
My soul thirsts for you;
My flesh faints for you,
As in a dry and weary land where this is no water.
The psalmist’s soul is thirsty and his body faints with longing like the longing for water. What is the difference between the physical and the spiritual? Does it matter? The psalmist’s whole being, physical and spiritual, seeks God.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
Beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
My lips will praise you.
The psalmist uses his sense of sight and his power of speech to behold and praise God. Inspired by God’s steadfast love, his lips cannot help but praise the Lord.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
The psalmist’s life is imbued with his desire to bless the Lord. His movements reflect his inward state, and his words are formed to communicate with God.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
And my mouth praises you with joyful lips
When I think of you on my bed,
And meditate on you in the
Watches of the night;
For you have been my help,
And in the shadow of your wings
I sing for joy.
Again, the psalmist expresses a unity in his inner and outer state. His soul is satisfied as his body would be after a rich feast. His lips express the joy of his soul. His whole being rejoices in the shelter found in the shadow of the Lord’s wings.
My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me.
The psalmist’s soul is dependent on God. He rests in God’s right hand. Everything about his existence reflects his reliance and dependence on God for both his physical existence and his inner life.
How has the psalmist learned to long so intensely for God?
I think suffering and struggle has forced him to lay aside confidence in human power and strength. Most likely, the psalmist has learned bitter lessons, and has come to God when human strength failed.
Yet the bitter lesson is accompanied by joy. Even as the psalmist seeks desperately for God with physical and spiritual longing intermingled so as to be indistinguishable from each other, joy comes with blessing God, clinging to God, meditating on God.
These verses can apply to us as individual Christians, and as the church together.
Let us seek God inwardly with our meditations, and outwardly, with our spoken praise and prayer. May we see the shadow of our God’s wings sheltering us and sing for joy. May the whole soul of the church cling to God, and may God’s right hand uphold us all.
May God lead the church to living water when we are lost in a dry and weary land.
Praise to you, Christ who redeems and shelters us.