O God, you are my God—
it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns;
for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless,
and without water.
I look to you in the sanctuary
to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life;
my lips shall ever praise you!
I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall be sated as with choice food,
with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!
I think of you upon my bed,
I remember you through the watches of the night
You indeed are my savior,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
(Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8)
O God, you are my God The psalmist affirms his relationship with God. For you my body yearns The psalmist illustrates his desire for God’s sustaining presence (see 36:8–9). without water The psalmist’s description of his longing for God is intensified by the imagery of a barren wilderness.
63:3 I look to you in the sanctuary The psalmist desires God because he has seen God’s glory and power and knows that nothing is of greater worth. These attributes are evident in God’s sanctuary (qodesh) or temple, the representation of His presence.
63:4 your love is better The psalmist shows his confidence in God by trusting in God’s chesed over his own life.
63:5 as long as I live The psalmist intends to respond to God’s providence and greatness with worship and song for the rest of his life. I will lift up my hands A posture of worship (see 134:2). The psalmist’s confidence in God’s steadfast love leads him to worship God.
63:6 My soul shall be sated Describes the satisfaction found in God. with choice food God more than satisfies the psalmist’s thirst (v. 1); a rich banquet fills his soul.
63:7 think of you upon my bed At night, the psalmist is comforted by remembering God’s faithful protection.
63:8 in the shadow of your wings An image of God’s protection. See note on Ruth 2:12. I will sing for joy A reaction to God’s protection.
63:8 your right hand upholds me Represents God’s power and authority.
Psalm 63 was greatly valued in the early church. It was selected as the morning psalm to introduce the singing of the psalms in the Sunday service. It speaks of the thirst of the soul for God, the quenching of that thirst through the presence of God in the sanctuary, and the response of praise as the expression of life itself.
The prayer contains a truly remarkable confession of faith: “Your [steadfast] love (hesed) is better than life.” The statement is astounding. The psalmist seems to say that God’s faithfulness to him is more valuable than his own life. It is God’s hesed in which the psalms put their trust and hope for the salvation of life.
How can prayer separate God’s faithfulness from the life that depends on it and hold it up for praise as more valuable than that life? It seems that the vision of God and the praise of God carry the psalmist to a point at which prayer transcends the soul and its need to contemplate God alone. Trust becomes for a moment, pure adoration, that leaves the self behind.
This confession was associated with early martyred saints who valued God more than life and gave up their lives rather than deny their testimony. This psalm leads us in prayer to the point of devotion to God alone that must be the goal of all true faith.
– James Mays
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.