Lenten Training (3): Hungering for God (Psalm 63)

Date: 3/7/2010
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Spirituality
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Exhortium: Bacchus, on a certain occasion, found his old school master and foster father, Silenus, missing.  He was found by a king . . .  Bacchus offered the king his choice of whatever reward he might wish. He asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into GOLD. Midas was his name. His desire was the problem.

TEXT: Psalms 63 - O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 63:2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 63:3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 63:4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 63:5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, 63:7 For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 63:8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. 63:9 But those who seek my life to destroy it, Will go into the depths of the earth. 63:10 They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes. 63:11 But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Our Lenten Training is first to actively grow in faith in Christ and second, to master anxiety (Psalm 27). Faith is the victory, but anxiety is defeat. This week we will consider Psalm 63 which points us toward our need to maintain a hunger for God. This is basic training in our spiritual bootcamp. This Psalm, like much of the poetry of Scripture, breaks down into a parallel structure (a chiasm):

A. Hungering for the Lord (v.1)
    B. A Vision of God’s Covenant Love (vv.2-3)
        C. Results in Praise (vv.4-5)
A’. Hungering for the Lord (vv.6-8)
    B’. A Vision of God’s Covenant Deliverance (vv.9-10)
        C’. Results in Praise (v.11)

We will hunger for the Lord if we know His Covenant Love (vv.1-5). Through the Psalm David expresses his hunger in that he “seeks”  earnestly and his “soul thirsts” for the Lord. His flesh “yearns” for the Lord (v.1). He sees literally and metaphorically (in the desert) that everything else is dry and weary. David hungers for the Lord because he has seen God in the sanctuary. Specifically He has seen God’s  power and glory (v. 2). Seeing God as He is has led him to see that the covenant love (hesed) of the Lord is “better than life.” The result is that the Lord is to be “blessed” and worshiped. The experience of authentic worship brings the realization that “My soul is satisfied” as with literally “fat food” (deshen).

We will hunger for the Lord if we trust His Covenant Deliverance (vv.6-11). David seeks God in his “down time” (“on my bed”). In the restlessness of troubled times he contemplates (meditates) the Lord’s salvation/deliverance. God has been his help, his cover, and his strength (v.7-8). David knows that the enemies that hunger to destroy him will be “delivered over” to His Covenant Protector. Their mouths will be stopped. Those who would prey upon him will become prey because David prays. The result of hungering for the Lord is to glimpse His glory. “Everyone who swears by Him will glory” (v.11).

Exhortations: Watching the food network may make you hungry. So reading of those who have a thirst for God and are satisfied with a greater degree of God’s presence in their life may make you also desire God.

Augustine’s Confessions: “To Carthage I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a cauldron of unholy loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, in love with loving, and safety I hated, and a way without snares. For within me was a famine of that inward food, Thyself, my God; yet, through that famine I was not hungered; but was without all longing for incorruptible sustenance, not because filled therewith, but the more empty, the more I loathed it."

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

Jonathan Edwards: Memoirs &ld

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more