The Wilderness Experience
In Psalm 63:1-4a we read, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus, I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name” (NKJV).
Opening up Psalms, explains, “David wrote this psalm while in the wilderness. The wilderness was a barren, desolate place where he was deprived of the comforts of home and exposed to the elements, faced hostile enemies, and was away from the sanctuary. No one is exempt from a wilderness experience. So, the question is not whether we, as God’s people, will have to go through wilderness experiences, but rather how to face them. It is at this point that David’s psalm offers tremendous help.”
David faced his wilderness experience by focusing on his relationship with God instead of his circumstances. Psalm 63:1-4 David mentions five crucial disciplines that helped him come out of his wilderness experience better instead of bitter. First, while running for his life and managing a group of vagabonds, David made time to praise the Lord with his hands lifted. There is an old phrase, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” Juxtaposed, hands that are too busy with the cares of this life can also keep us from a proper focus.
Second, David’s soul and flesh hungered and thirsted for the Lord. The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible suggests, “This refers to the whole man finding satisfaction only in close relationship with the Lord.”
Third, David was careful to put a guard on his lips. It is so easy to complain when times are hard. Conversely, praising God in the middle of troubled times may be more difficult, but it is incredibly beneficial.
Fourth, taking destructive thinking captive is crucial! Meditation, which is likened to a cow chewing its cud, is a methodical rehearsing of the good (Philippians 4:8). God’s nature, His character, His faithfulness, and His promise to be with us through thick and thin, will keep us from vain considerations and presumptuous reasoning.
Fifth, David understood that God was his only hope and that to be under the “shadow of His wings” was the safest refuge. The Holman concise Bible commentary asserts, “So profound was his love for God that even in a desert the psalmist longed for Him rather than water. The worship of God is better than the most delicious food. At night he thought on God rather than sleep (63:6). He stayed close to God in the knowledge that he was safe there.”
-Pastor Gary Schlenz