1 A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. 11 But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
You cannot sleep? Try this!
(Verses 1-5) The first five verses focus on David’s current situation. We know he was ‘in the Desert of Judah’ at least twice: once when he was seeking to escape from the pursuing King Saul (1 Samuel 23), and once when, though he was then the king, he fled from his rebel son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15). It seems it was the second occasion that is covered in this psalm, since David refers to himself as ‘king’ in verse 11. Whatever his circumstances, David shows his great desire for God and loving respect for Him. He starts with ‘O God, you are my God.’ It is a wonderful thing to belong to the Lord and know that, in one sense, He belongs to you. Doubting Thomas, who believed again in Jesus when he saw Him risen from the dead and had seen the wounds of crucifixion in His hands and side, exclaimed ‘My Lord and my God.’ (John 20:28) Can you say the same thing to Jesus? Do you realise that He died to take the punishment for your sins, and have you turned your back on them and received Him into your life? If so, like David, your saved soul will long for fellowship with God, just as a thirsty man’s body longs for water in the desert. You will treasure the times when you have sensed being close to God in prayer, like David realised the power and glory of God in the ‘sanctuary’ in the Tabernacle. You will treasure His (changeless) love to you – it is more important even than your (passing) life. You will make thanking and praising God a godly habit as long as you live. You will feed on the spiritual food of God’s word and sing your praise to Him.
(Verses 6-8) David is obviously sleepless – always a difficult and tiring affliction to deal with – but he does not waste his time ‘counting sheep’! He is a good example to us all. He casts his mind back on what God has done for him. One of my friends had insomnia, so he started to pray each time he could not sleep. He said the devil did not like him praying, so he lulled him to sleep. If that did not happen, he kept praying. My pal told me, ‘So I won whether I slept or stayed awake!’ David thinks about God as his helper – it causes him to sing, well aware that God sheltered him ‘in the shadow of [His] wings’ just like a mother hen shelters her chicks. As he thinks of, prays to, and sings about God, he becomes aware that the powerful ‘right hand’ of Almighty God is upholding him. A very good result from a sleepless night.
(Verses 9-11) David’s intended killers face Hell’s eternal destruction and the sword of judgment. Jackals eat their bodies. Their lies are over. David ‘will rejoice in God’. All who revere God’s name will praise God. Will you spend eternity in Hell or Heaven?