The Psalms are more than just songs and hymns representing Jewish life and spirituality, in many ways, they journalise the various writers’ cherished and innermost encounters and communication with the Almighty. Their condensed essence of thoughts and nuances of the human soul encapsulated in these lyrics endeavour to illustrate the reality of an established dynamic relationship with Yahweh. Psalm 63, probably written when King David was seeking refuge during Absalom’s rebellion, expresses his intense loneliness as he hid from his enemies in the barren Judean wilderness (2 Samuel 15-18). Under most circumstances, the normal human predilection for solace and support is to reach out to someone with whom we have a solid and mutually-trusting endearing relationship; hence David reiterated, because “You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly” (Ps 63:1). To access his covenantal relationship with his Maker, the impetus for David is driven by an enduring spiritual passion that would never acquiesce any prolonged absence from his Lord (Ps 63:1b-2). This Psalm enthrallingly draws out King David’s sensory experiences of seeing God’s power, glory, and lovingkindness manifested in his life and reign; his unswerving devotional bearing garnered from God, on two occasions, the accolade that he is “a man after My own heart” (1Sam 13:14; 1Kings 14:8; c.f., Deut 4:29; Jer 29:13; Matt 7:7-8). The mark of an authentic relationship with our Creator is that we become deeply satisfied with Him for Who He is and not for any benefits we may derive from our relationship (Ps 63:2-5), and not unlike Psalm 63, our primary focus should be on God and His attributes. It goes without saying that there is a thin line between getting ‘an experience’ for its own sake and appreciating God for Who He is. However, God’s omnipresence ironically ensures that He is present with us despite our disregard of Him. It then becomes counter-intuitive that our sins and our focus away from Him to the things of this world are the inevitable bottlenecks to our relating with Him enthusiastically (c.f., John 6:44).
“Then He said, “Do not come near here, remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground”” (Ex 3:5); “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8); “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6); and “Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory…My soul clings to You, Your right hand upholds me” (Ps 63:2, 8). Although our natural responses are to parse these few passages as metaphorical, symbolic or a generalised descriptive turn of phrase, they undeniably address a certain spiritually-oriented sensory perception. Like many other Biblical references, they poignantly remind us that truth and other spiritual realities are often ‘personified,’ and therefore, emotionally perceptible. Being a believer does mean that our spiritual faculty in Christ has been enhanced. When I was converted, I suddenly began to see the world around me very differently; an inexpressible joy and an unexplainable enthusiasm to want to read the Bible seized me, and the presence of God was unquestionably real – strengthening me. I was like a blind person beginning to see the brilliance of colours around me for the first time in my life (c.f., Rom 8:9-11).
Which invariably leads us into Christian praise, a spontaneous outpouring of joy and satisfaction in God, a breaking out in effulgent songs of worship, as David meditated on His power and glory, “because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips” (Ps 63:3-5). God’s love is faithful, pledged, unchangeable, unconditional, and mediated by His Son, Jesus Christ. Such unmerited love drew out from David his unswerving obedience to God: “when I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches…. my soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me” (Ps 63:6-8; Ps 63:8 ‘to cling’ – ‘to follow close, to be joined,’ same word as in ‘to cleave to’ Gen 2:24). Despite the Old Testament imagery of sacrifices to secure the forgiveness for sins, David was not unfamiliar with God’s preference for obedience rather than sacrifice (1Sam 15:22-23), principally through Yahweh’s emphatic object lesson as the Prophet Nathan confronted the King on the Bathsheba issue (2Sam 12:15-20). Loving God and unconditionally obeying Him goes together (c.f., John 14:15), usually eliciting a profound passion transforming belief into a life-changing humility towards God and man (c.f., Matt 5:5).