O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you…
David composed Psalm 63 while seeking refuge in the Judean desert. He had fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom mounted a successful rebellion against him. The betrayal felt by David must have been excruciating. His own son sought to steel away the throne and even his life.
As had happened so often in David’s life, here in Psalm 63 we see God bringing out the best in him in difficult times. When this Psalm was written David had been ruling for years. He had been blessed by God in remarkable ways. His devotion to the Lord was unique among the kings of Judah. However, David’s life and his reign had been marked by serious trials and calamities since his sin with Bathsheba. Indeed, he would come to lose four of his children. And now, one of those children threatened his kingdom and his life. But, as this Psalm indicates, the most devastating loss for David was that he was separated from the presence of the Lord in his sanctuary; the temple.
Certainly, this does not mean that God was somehow bound to the temple. However, David, a faithful Jew, knew that God’s ordinary means of grace and his covenant presence with his people was attached to that special place. So committed was David to the Lord’s administration of his ordinary means that he ordered that the Ark of the Covenant remain in the temple rather than be taken away into the wilderness even though that would have given him an advantage over Absalom.
As he looked around at his desolate surroundings where water was scarce David saw a direct connection to the condition of his soul. More than anything he desired to taste of the goodness of the Lord in his temple. It is a desire expressed by the king numerous times in the Psalms. David’s Greater Son, the Lord Jesus, appealed to this very imagery of thirsting souls as he called men and women to himself. To the Samaritan woman Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). During the annual Feast of Booths Jesus stood before the gathered crowd and announced, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…” (John 7:37).