Delight In God.
THE Book of Psalms covers all time. It contains the experience of the people of God, not in David's day alone, but in all the long ages that follow. We instinctively turn to this book in our meditations upon the faithfulness of God (Ps. xxxvi. 5), upon His untold resources for our blessing (Ps. xci.), upon His "very present help in trouble" (Ps. xlvi. 1), upon the excellence of His lovingkindness and the river of His pleasure (Ps. xxxvi.), upon Himself as "the portion of our inheritance and of our cup" (Ps. xvi. 5).
The sixty-third Psalm has its own peculiar charm. The circumstances are all against the believer. He rejoices in the God Who is for him. The wilderness of Judah furnishes nothing. It is far from the Sanctuary of God. But the God of the Sanctuary is there, and the Psalmist knows Him to be "MY God," the God that makes the Sanctuary. Priceless privilege to be able to say, and in the wilderness of Judah too, "O God, Thou art my God." No uncertainty! No misgiving! All around may be a "weary land where no water is," but "God is the strength of his heart and his portion forever." He recalls the happy days when he could reach the Sanctuary, when he "went with them to the House of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy-day." But he can no longer reach the House of God. One who tells of a coming Antichrist sits on the throne. He had said to David, "Go, serve other gods." How gladly would God's beloved outcast servant have "seen Thy power and Thy glory" in the Holy Place! His heart was there. The whole Psalm is a "joying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ," to adopt New Testament language.
We may remark in passing, the importance of our cultivating an individual communion with God if we would help the Church of God as a whole. How precious that Church in His eye! Precious as the great and final work of His counsels. Precious because of Him Who died to "gather together in one, the children of God that were scattered abroad." And precious because of the out-poured Spirit Who came to give effect to the wonderful counsels of the heart of God from all eternity. We find a striking illustration of this personal individual preparation in the building of the temple. The stones—"great stones, costly stones"—were made ready before they were brought together. An important lesson for us. We shall do well to take heed to it. It has been often remarked that in this Psalm, the name of Jehovah, so common in the Psalms, does not once occur. This is well worthy of our attention.
Here we have a soul delighting in God for what He is in Himself. Look down the Psalm. No mention of what God has given or done before the seventh verse. And there it is "Because Thou hast been my help." The soul has found help, but the emphasis is upon the "Thou" Who has given it. The heart does not rest in the gift but in the Giver. It is He Who satisfies the soul, as we learn at Sychar:—"The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." "Because Thy loving- kindness is better than life (even life in "the City of the great King; my lips shall praise Thee." At once the soul takes the attitude of worship. It has something to give to God. "Of Thine own have we given Thee." "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty." And now the happy Psalmist, though in a "thirsty land, where no water is" exclaims, "Thus will I bless Thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name." Have we apprehended what it is to bless God? Is not He the source of all blessing? For a creature to "bless" Him is surely to carry water to the sea. Yet it is our privilege to bless Him. We bless Him for what He is, we thank and praise Him for His gracious gifts. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." O the unspeakable joy of being able to bless the Lord, and that, too, in the wilderness of Judah! We read of His lifting His hands and blessing His disciples as He left them. Thank God, it is ours now to lift to Him, feeble hands, "confessing to His name." This is true and acceptable worship, the highest privilege of any creature. It is the portion only of a satisfied heart. "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips."
Oh for a heart that says, "I have enough"! "Through Christ Which strengtheneth me . . . I have all and abound." Worship is ever the outflow of a full heart. The poor woman of Sychar had much questioning about worship, but it was only when the water sprang up in her soul, that she became a worshipper. Then indeed, she "worshipped the Father in spirit and in truth." The Father had sought and found her for that. Happy worshipper of the "I AM," Who was revealing Himself! And happier still, He deigns to consider Himself the bountiful Giver of all grace!
And when are these "joyful lips" so ready to praise? Not amidst the activities of the day. Not in the excitement of its varied occupations; "When I remember Thee upon my bed." In the stillness of the watches, when men sleep or wish to sleep. When nature lies low—yes, it is then that "they that wait upon the Lord, renew their strength." Eagles' wings are theirs in those quiet hours. It is the God he thus learns to know Who has been his help. "Therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice." Thrice blessed resting place near the heart of eternal love!" "The children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house, and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures." It is "the secret place . . . the shadow of the Almighty" where they find their "refuge and fortress," where "He covers them with His feathers." Happy nearness to His heart! Priceless "rejoicing" however weary the land through which our pilgrimage lies!
"My Saviour, keep my spirit stayed,
Hard following after Thee."
Divine trust fills the heart there where the foxes or jackals abound. "The King (for King He is) shall rejoice in God." Some have thought that the date of this psalm must be placed at the flight from before Absalom. This appears to be founded upon the fact that David calls Himself "The King." Yet God had "sought Him a man after His Own heart," of whom He says "which shall fulfil all My will." It, however, matters little where the "weary land" of our pilgrimage lies; we may "dwell in Thy house and be still praising Thee." We may go "from strength to strength till in Zion we appear before God." May it be so with the writer and reader, that God may be glorified!