The early church father Augustine sought for meaning or fulfillment in his life for years. When he finally came to faith in Christ, he gave thanks to God by saying, “You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
In today’s reading, David expresses a deep longing for God’s presence. He knows that only God can satisfy. He confesses, “I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (v. 1). As a dry and cracked desert landscape needs water for life to flourish, David knows that he needs intimacy with God in order to survive.
David finds the answer by searching his memory. He looks back on the times when he saw God in the sanctuary and beheld His power and glory (v. 2). He remembers God’s faithful commitment to Him and His people. He declares, “Your love is better than life” (v. 3). The word for love here is hesed. It refers to God’s loyalty to His covenant with Israel. David knows that to be in right relationship with God is more important than life itself.
As David is reminded of God’s faithfulness, he breaks forth in praise, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (v. 4). David prayed this while in the wilderness. He was likely on the run from Saul or Absalom. In that context, sleep is a time when one would be especially vulnerable to surprise or attack. David declares, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (v. 6). He knows that God is his shelter. Because of this, he is confident in God’s protection (vv. 9–10). He knows that ultimately the “mouths of liars will be silenced,” but his mouth will be wide open “with singing lips” (vv. 11, 5).
>> In Christ’s work on the cross, we have seen God’s love powerfully displayed. When we feel like God is distant, like we are in the wilderness, we can remember what God has done. Our longing for God can be transformed into praise.
David praised God in “a dry and parched land”—the wilderness of Judah. Do you praise God when you’re going through hard and lonely times? Lord, help us see that “your love is better than life” (Ps. 63:3).