A dry and weary land where there is no water. The soul thirsting. The flesh fainting. The weary wilderness wanderer earnestly seeking. Part of the normative landscape for the God-follower? Evidently. That is, if Psalm 63 was written for the God-follower. Thinking it was.
The songwriter had had better days. Days when, instead of being enveloped by the grey, overcast of the wilderness, he stood amidst the power and glory of God in the sanctuary. Days when the steadfast love of God actually felt like steadfast love and so David’s lips could not be restrained from blessing the LORD. Days when, far from being thirsty and faint, his soul felt “satisfied as with fat and rich food.” Instead of his head being cast down, his hands were lifted up. Instead of panting for water, he praised with wonder.
And so, in his thirst, faintness, and earnest seeking of God, he resolved to remember the Almighty upon his bed and recall past mountaintop encounters of the divine kind. He determined, in the watches of the night, to meditate on His God — the promises spoken, the purposes determined, the power to fulfill every promise and purpose. He positioned himself in the shadow of heavenly wings, the throne of God a very present refuge to help in time of need. And, he held on for dear life, his soul clinging to his God.
Thus, even in that dire desert, despite the arid conditions, amidst the weary wilderness, he could sing for joy because of a faithful God who upheld him with His right hand.
I chew on this drama in the desert and connect with the struggle when streams of living water seem to be running dry. When the confidence to be able to hold on wavers because of the weariness which sets in.
But something else caught my attention in particular this morning. Something I’ve probably tended to gloss over in the past. But continue to engage with the text after verse eight, and there’s a diabolical adversary tending the desert. A wily enemy fueling the wilderness. A liar who seeks to perpetuate the languishing.
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the King shall rejoice in God; all who swear by Him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.
(Psalm 63:9-11 ESV)
It wasn’t just an arid land that sapped the songwriter’s soul, but an active adversary. Not just a random feeling of failure, but a full-on assault by a calculating foe. The sense of barrenness actually the evidence of an on-going battle. Revealing one who would seek to bring shame, create doubt, and remove joy. An accuser of the brothers (Rev. 12:10). A destroyer (Rev. 9:11). A liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). It helps, I think, to recognize there’s an enemy in the desert seeking to destroy.
But our hope is in a King who, while suffering reproach during His first advent, will be established in glory and power and rejoice in God during His second. And the promise is that all who own allegiance to this King will be victorious. More than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Exulting in His victory. Boasting in His beauty. Glorying in His goodness. Singing praises with joyful lips, and blessing the God who has faithfully kept them.
For the mouths of liars will be stopped.
Yes, and amen!
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.