Thirst for God
1 A psalm of David. When he was in the wilderness of Judah.[b]
2 O God, you are my God,
for whom I have been searching earnestly.[c]
My soul yearns for you
and my body thirsts for you,
like the earth when it is parched,
arid and without water.
3 I have gazed upon you in the sanctuary
so that I may behold your power[d] and your glory.
4 Your kindness[e] is a greater joy than life itself;
thus my lips will speak your praise.
5 I will bless you all my life;
with uplifted hands[f] I will call on your name.
6 My soul[g] will be satisfied as at a banquet
and with rejoicing lips my mouth will praise you.
7 I think of you while I lie upon my bed,[h]
and I meditate on you during the watches of the night.
8 For you are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.[i]
9 My soul clings tightly to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
10 [j]Those who seek my life will incur ruin;
they will sink down into the depths of the earth.
11 They will be slain by the sword
and their flesh will become food for jackals.[k]
12 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by him[l] will exult,
for the mouths of liars will be silenced.
- Psalm 63:1 A deported Levite thinks back to the time when he lived in the temple, close to God; in the silence of the night he meditates on those happy hours, the remembrance of which comforts him. And the desire rises in him and becomes more and more intense; already it is as if he is once again in the sanctuary with no other occupation than to offer unceasing praise to the One whose love surpasses every other good. In that time of deliverance the king will be filled with blessings by God while the oppressors will receive the severest of chastisements.
By its movement and style, this engaging prayer finds a place among the most beautiful psalms of longing (see Pss 42; 61; 73; 84). It enables us to rediscover—amid the difficulties of daily life and all that distracts us from the spiritual life—the longing for God, whose love is the only thing that makes life worth living. It can also serve as the song of the prodigal son (see Lk 15), enabling us to put into words the distress, hope, and penitence of the repentant sinner.
- Psalm 63:1 This superscription ascribes the psalm to a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah (see 1 Sam 24; 2 Sam 15:23-28; 16:2, 14; 17:16, 29).
- Psalm 63:2 Earnestly: literally, “in the morning” (see notes on Pss 57; 57:9). My soul . . . my body: i.e., my whole being.
- Psalm 63:3 The psalmist worships God, the Great King, who promised to dwell among his people—formerly in the Ark of the Covenant (see Pss 78:61; 132:8; 1 Sam 4:21) and now in the sanctuary where the psalmist envisions the Lord in all his power and glory.
- Psalm 63:4 Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5. For the Old Testament, the greatest good was earthly life; but God’s kindness is better even than life.
- Psalm 63:5 Uplifted hands: the usual posture for prayer (see Ex 9:29, 33) with palms turned upward (see also Pss 44:21; 77:3; 88:10; 119:48; 143:6; 1 Ki 8:22; Ezr 9:5; Neh 8:6; 2 Mac 3:20). The lifting up of one’s hands was also a symbol of dependence on and praise of the Lord (see Pss 28:2; 63:5; 1 Tim 2:8). Name: see note on Ps 5:12.
- Psalm 63:6 Soul: see note on Ps 6:4. As at a banquet: literally, “marrow and fat,” the preferred meats of the Palestinian Arabs and a symbol of the best of foods (see Ps 36:9).
- Psalm 63:7 Upon my bed: during the night of darkness, the psalmist anxiously looks for the morning of God’s deliverance (see notes on Pss 57; 57:9). Watches of the night: the night was divided into three watches, and if someone were aware of all three of them he was passing a sleepless night—in this case at prayer (see Ps 119:148; Lam 2:19).
- Psalm 63:8 See note on Ps 17:8.
- Psalm 63:10 See notes on Pss 5:11; 35.
- Psalm 63:11 The psalmist’s enemies will lose their lives for having sought to kill him, and they will become food for jackals, i.e., they will remain unburied, a cause for shame (see note on Ps 53:6).
- Psalm 63:12 All who swear by him: to swear by the Lord signified devoted adherence to him (see Isa 45:23; 48:1; Zep 1:5). God will acquit his followers (see Deut 6:13; Jer 12:16; Dan 13:42, 60) but will chastise the wicked (see Ps 52:3-7).