“Four Steps to Soul Satisfaction in Troublesome Times”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Psalm 63
Turn to Ps. 63.
What I want to speak to you about this morning…
Is what everybody began seeking at birth
It has streamed down with every tear during times of sorrow, and has been the driving force behind youthful dreams of fame and success
It is sought after by the rich and the poor, the free and the slave
It is sought after by the most righteous person who has ever lived and by the most wicked person who has ever lived
It is often if not always the driving force behind your motivations.
And a lack of what I want to speak to you this morning drives people to suicide.
In one word: Satisfaction
We’re going to read the first 8 verses of Ps. 63.
But before we do, note that the central verse is v. 5, and David’s confident expression of satisfaction. How can he say this?
Psalm 63:5 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
That’s because he’s practiced the first 4 verses of the psalm. It’s as if someone came to David and said, “How are you so satisfied in God? You seem content no matter what happens. Why is that?” David reflects, and then pens this psalm.
Let’s read Psalm 63:1-8.
Psalm 63:1–8 1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, So as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: 6 When I remember thee upon my bed, And meditate on thee in the night watches. 7 Because thou hast been my help, Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. 8 My soul followeth hard after thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me.
Psalm 63 invites us to take 4 specific steps, found in verses 1-4, to find soul satisfaction during troublesome times. 63:9, “But those that seek my soul, to destroy it…” So David has enemies. We’ll find out who is his enemy, soon. We’re going to discover together, step-by-step, how David was satisfied in his heart in times of trouble. I would like to preach to you then on that topic, “4 Steps to Soul Satisfaction in Troublesome Times.”
Claim the One True and Living God as Your God (v.1a)
Forsake all Idols
Trust Christ Alone for Salvation
EXP: First, David says v.1 , “O God, thou art my God.” It’s as if David is pointing to God and he says, “I am claiming you as my God.” Clearly, then, the first step to soul satisfaction in troublesome times is “Claim the One True and Living God as Your God.” To claim God as your God requires 2 things: Trust Christ alone for salvation and forsake all idols.
Have you trusted Christ alone for salvation? No human heart will ever be truly satisfied in any circumstance, in pleasure or in pain, unless the Lord Jesus Christ resides within. Romans 10:9 teaches that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Whether you like it or not, Jesus is Lord over your life.
This verse in Romans 10 is NOT teaching that you have the power to make Jesus Lord over your life. This verse is teaching that you must confess (“say that it is true”) that He is Lord over your life to be saved for all eternity. The Lord Jesus is the Lord over the most righteous and over the most rebellious of this life, whether they acknowledge it or not. Then, if you believe that God actually made a dead Jesus to be an alive Jesus, you will be saved. If this is you and you haven’t done so, repent, turn away from your sins, lay down your arms of rebellion and trust Christ alone to save you.
Perhaps you’ve already confessed Jesus to be Lord. But have you forsaken all idols?
1) Are you really certain that Allah is not God and are you certain that not all religions are climbing up the same mountain to heaven? “God, you are my God” there is no one, nothing, else.
2) But I think what you may struggle with more is not that other so-called gods might be God, but making other things or people in your life, even good things, a higher priority than God. You can easily put your job, family, money, or entertainments in a more exalted position than God.
ILL (top 5): If I were to ask you to put your top 5 most treasured possessions, things, or people on a mental slip of paper, what would they be? Take a brief moment and make a mental list real quick (wait 5 sec’s). I bet the first one was God, which would be good. Most are ok with that, as long as we have the other 5 to go along with God. But slowly start erasing number 5, 4, 3, 2…then is God really #1? David could say so…only God was on David’s satisfaction radar. You say, “That’s easy for him to say, he’s the king, he’s got land, gold, servants.” Ah, wait. That’s where the historical background comes into play.
EXP (title): Notice that the title to this psalm is “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” David was in the wilderness of Judah on two different occasions, but it is clear after glancing at v. 11 that the psalm is written when David was king (“But the king shall rejoice in God” –referring to himself). We know that after David became king, he fled from his own son Absalom into the wilderness in 2 Sam. 15. Absalom was attempting to usurp the throne and kill his father, David. David is hardly living like a king at this point! God is all he has!
TRANS/APP: Let me point out a basic principle that will govern the rest of the message.
Everybody thirsts for whoever or whatever their god is; however, none satisfy but 1. The gods of this world, whether pleasure, money, security, can never truly satisfy. God made man to worship only Him and He alone knows how to satisfy man’s heart. Only God can truly satisfy. Therefore, it is crucial to only worship God, not the gods of this world, to receive true satisfaction. Worshipping idols, seeking earthly pleasure, money, or entertainment will only leave you empty in troublesome times.
ILL (only God satisfies, auto mechanic/car): The relationship between the satisfaction of your heart and God is similar to the relationship between your car that won’t run and an auto mechanic. Say one day an auto mechanic comes to you and says, “Here, I just finished completely rebuilding this car. If you ever are dissatisfied with how it runs, give me a call.” Then, five years later, sure enough, something happens and the car won’t run. You remember who rebuilt the car for you, but you refuse to take it to him because you think, “He will not be able to fix it.” That would be foolish! He rebuilt the car himself and knows how each part functions together!
APP the ILL: Similarly, God made you. He can satisfy your heart. If you find that your spirit and your life are not satisfying, take your whole spirit and body and present it to him, and say, “Lord, help me to claim you as my God and help me to forsake all idols! May you be my only comfort and joy, satisfaction.”
EXP: Because everybody thirsts for whatever their god is, it is crucial that you claim the one true and living God as your God because only God can truly satisfy. Thus, forsaking all idols and trusting Christ alone for salvation is the crucial first step to inner satisfaction.
TRANS: Once you have claimed the one true and living God as your God by forsaking all idols and trusting Christ alone for salvation, you will possess a supernatural desire to thirst for God. Earnestly seeking God naturally follows claiming God as your God because everyone earnestly seeks after their god, whatever it is. That’s why David says what he says next, “early (or earnestly) will I seek thee.” Nevertheless, you must cultivate this desire for God. Christians can diminish their thirst for God.
The first step to true satisfaction in troublesome times is to claim God as your God. Next, Earnestly Seek God in order to Understand His Character.
Earnestly Seek God to Understand His Character (v. 1b)
To Seek God Earnestly Means to Desire Him More than Water in the Desert
EXP (soul, flesh): Still in verse 1, notice with with what David is pursuing God. David is pursuing God with everything that he is. In verse 1, he mentions his “soul” and his “flesh” as pursuing God. David is using his whole being, everything that is a part of him, he wants to use as a means of seeking after God.
EXP (early): Notice also, how David describes his search for God. First, he describes it as an earnest seeking after Him. The phrase “early will I seek thee” is better understood “earnestly will I seek thee.” The word in Hebrew is a “false cognate.” The verb “early will I seek” in Hebrew looks similar to the noun “dawn,” but it does not have reference to the time of day.
ILL: Let’s say you go to France, armed with a basic grasp of the French language. At the hotel, you realize you are missing some basic household goods but you are stumped as to the correct French word for “pillow.” Trying to cross the language barrier, you proceed to repeatedly ask a store assistant in French “I would like for my bed a ____” then, switching to English, making an attempt at the French for “pillow,” you say “cushion.” The store assistant is not at all impressed, and then afterward you finally find your English-to-French dictionary and it dawns on you that the English word ‘cushion’ sounds awfully like the French word for ‘pig’, cochon. Needless to say you understand why the store assistant was so disgruntled at your repeated requests for a pig for your bed! The words sound the same, but they don’t have the same meaning. That’s kind of what’s going on here.
So, the psalmist is not saying, “I will seek you in the morning” he is saying, “I will seek you earnestly.” So, David is describing his pursuit of God as passionate. It’s a passionate search.
EXP (desert/thirst): And it’s interesting that David is also illustrating his own pursuit of God from his environment. David states v. 1 “my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is.” It is here that we observe David using terminology that fits perfectly with his surroundings. Remember, he is in a desert. Just like the land about him can cause him to long for water, so this troubling circumstance he is in is causing him to thirst for God.
Not only is he using it as an illustration, he is using it to heighten the seriousness of his thirst for God. He is thirsting for God in a place where most people would thirst for water! He is saying, “Look, when most people would thirst for the remedy of the situation, in this case, thirsting for water in a desert, instead I am thirsting for God, who gives me help” (as in v. 7, he says, “B/c thou hast been my help”). David is not thirsting for the remedy to the situation, but for God himself.
APP: Does that characterize your search in troublesome times? When your back’s up against the wall, are you saying, “Lord I need you!” or are you saying, “Lord, deliver me!”? It’s not wrong to pray to God for deliverance, but do you only serve Jesus because of what he can give you? Earnestly, seriously seek God alone in times of trouble.
TRANS: David is earnestly seeking after God, not his remedies. But why? To understand his character. If you earnestly seek after God, you will experience what David experiences in verse 2.
The Purpose of Seeking God Earnestly: Beholding God
You Will Observe God (v. 2b -KJV, Hebrew 2a)
EXP: Thirst for God, why? “To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” He thirsted for God as he did in verse 1, therefore, now he states why he thirsted for God “to see God’s power and His glory.” He is observing God intimately.
The word for “see” describes the purpose of his thirsting for God. David says, “I thirst for God…why, you ask? To see God’s power and His glory.” He also tells us where he has seen God’s power and glory before: “in the sanctuary.”
He is recounting the times he has observed God in the tabernacle sanctuary. This is, of course, before the temple of Solomon. This tabernacle was God’s special dwelling place. And we could go through the Old Testament and observe all the occurrences when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle or the temple. Leviticus 9 recounts the inauguration of Aaron’s priesthood. Aaron is performing offerings according to the Law of Moses. Then, vv. 23, 24, “and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
ARG: So you say, “If only that would happen to me, then I can understand being satisfied. But God does not show himself like this anymore.” On the contrary. In New Testament times, we have an even greater experience. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that each individual believer is the temple, the “sanctuary” if you will, as in Psalm 63:2. So, now, as a New Testament Christian, you can have the glory of the Lord filling, not the OT sanctuary or tabernacle, but your inner man. And when that happens, all of your being and everything about you will fall down in reverence and in a delightful fear of God.
So, David can pen v. 5 that he is satisfied even in a troublesome time because he had previously thirsted for God in such a way that he saw “God in the sanctuary.” David is recounting his intimate relationship with God in the sanctuary. He observed God and came to understand very intimately God’s power and His glory. He had regularly opened his mouth wide and God filled it.
TRANS: So here in v. 2 is the purpose of thirsting for God. Thirst for God in order to have an intimate experience with God and gain insight into God’s character, specifically his power and glory. So, claim God as your God. Then Earnestly Seek God to Understand His Character. Now, thirdly
[READ the point…] v. 3…
Believe that God’s Lovingkindness is Better Than Life
You Will Respond Properly to God’s Lovingkindness (v. 3)
You Will Conclude that it is Better than Life (v. 3a)
You Will Offer Praise to God for His Lovingkindness (v. 3b)
EXP: How does this follow from verse 2? David has reflected, even while writing this psalm, on his past delightful experiences with God. And now, as if he puts his pen down in a wonder of reflection that it is God himself who has meet him, so he must conclude that God’s “lovingkindness is better than life.” David is overcome with the greatness of this one attribute of God after reflecting so sweetly upon God’s past fellowship with him.
If this one attribute of God is better than life, I’d say it deserves some careful consideration, wouldn’t you? Most often it is used to refer to God’s covenant love, his faithfulness to the covenant. But, in some contexts its main focus is “kindness” or “grace”. That’s the idea here. So David, after reflecting on God meeting with him so personally, considers that God’s fellowship with him is “better than life” itself.
Is God’s meeting with your spirit “better than life” itself to you?
God’s love is better than your life. David realizes that whether David’s life continues to exist or not, is not the highest priority in the universe. For most people, their own life is the highest priority. For most people, this should read “b/c my life or ambitions are better than life, my lips will praise me.” So they long and they thirst to please themselves, and drink death-giving sea water in the process. But if you view God’s kind act of fellowship with you as better than your life, than you will long and thirst for Him, and you will drink the spiritual water that God meant for you to drink.
TRANS: So, to recap.
Claim the One True and Living God as Your God
Earnestly Seek God to Understand His Character
Believe that God’s Lovingkindness (his kind act of meeting with you) is Better Than Life
Now, the fourth step… (READ the point)
Dedicate All Your Days to Blessing God (v. 4)
EXP: Just like everyone seeks their god earnestly, so everyone dedicates their life to their god. Earnestly seeking a god or idol demands that you dedicate yourself entirely to it. Everyone, even without considering it, has dedicated their life to what they think is the best thing in existence. Nobody is content for second best when it comes to a life-long goal. David also has established his lifelong goal, found in verse 4 he says, “Thus will I bless thee while I live, I will lift up my hand in thy name.”
So the next step to finding true, God-ordained satisfaction in difficult times is this: dedicate all your days to blessing God.
Since David realizes that God’s kindness to fellowship with him is better than his life, he has to praise or bless that which is the best thing in existence, as everyone does. So David will “bless” God with all his days. To bless God means to praise or thank God for all of God’s great benefits.
APP (only bring glory to God): You right now are dedicated to that which you think is the best thing in existence. What are you living for? If you have concluded that God in all his glory is the best thing in existence, it will show. If you have, every decision you make from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same will have one single motive: does it bring glory to God? Does it reveal more and more of God’s infinite perfections in my life? Does it show forth how wonderful he is? That’s only thing these types of people are concerned about, whether it is entertainments, food, whatever… “I just want more of God’s glory to be known in the earth!” they would say. It’s these types of people, and these types alone, that have true satisfaction b/c they are so intimately connected to the only one who can give a human heart satisfaction.
TRANS: After cultivating these 4 steps when you are not experiencing difficult times, you can, on a daily basis during times of trouble, experience satisfaction in troublesome.
If you reached this point in the Christian life, here’s how, on a daily basis, to attain a satisfied soul, even in the midst of the harshest turmoil: Mediation.
You Will Be Satisfied When You Meditate on God (vv. 5-6)
EXP: David could have the utmost confidence that he would be satisfied in every circumstance of life because he has followed his own counsel in this passage. Whenever temptations arise and fears dismay, David knew that he needed to take a timeout and think about God. He says, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” When does that happen, David? David says I’m satisfied like this “when I remember God upon my bed, and meditate on Him in the night watches.”
David is reflecting once again on the very person of God.
EXP (remember): The word “remember” here means that David is purposefully bringing God to mind. It’s not that he forgot God, and “oh yeah” I can’t forget God. No it’s, “I’m in a difficult time right now, I need to purposefully bring back to my remembrance His character and actions.”
EXP (upon bed/mundane): And he’s doing it upon his bed, and in the night watches. He’s reflecting on God during the most mundane times of life. During the regular routines of life, David is actively bringing the Lord to his remembrance.
EXP (meditates): He says that he “meditates” upon him. The word for “meditates” here is used to describe the voice of animals, like the coo of a dove or the roar of a lion. The idea almost seems to be that he gives sort of a holy “hmmmmm” concerning what he is thinking about. An “aha” moment concerning the majesty and righteousness of God. The subject that is meditated on is something that no one can rip out of your mind. Nothing at all can keep you from thinking about it, not even those troublesome circumstances. Even in the most troublesome times, your mind races back to your thoughts and reflections about the character and the glory of God.
EXP (marrow, etc.): When you do this and you’ve followed David’s counsel thus far in this passage, you will be able to say “my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness” or, we would say, “as if we had just eaten the most wonderful Christmas dinner, with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie! As if you got done eating and you push yourself away from the table and you think “I couldn’t eat another bite, I’m full.” That’s what his soul feels like!
A felt satisfaction, this isn’t an abstract contentedness. He picks up his fork, and he feeds his soul on God and he knows when he needs to stop eating! Except his fork, here is, his own heart, he’s meditating! He is feeding his soul upon the glories of God by meditating upon him during even the most mundane times during the day.
Can you satisfy your own heart by doing nothing but thinking or do you need stuff to do? Are your most satisfying times your devotional times?
It’s very easy to thirst for things that cannot satisfy. It’s extremely tempting to try to find satisfaction in the wrong places. One group of men knew what it was physically to try to quench their thirst with the wrong thing.
ILL: 15 minutes after midnight on July 30, 1945 USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippines Sea and it sank in 12 minutes. 1200 men were on board that day and 300 of them went down with the ship. The remainder, about 900, was left floating in shark-infested waters without lifeboats and most had no food or water. By the time the survivors were spotted by accident 4 days later, only 316 of the 900 were still alive. During these four days the men just floated. 4 days. Seemingly endless floating in the shark infested waters. They have no food, no water and the water that they were floating in would by no means truly satisfy them. It could not quench their thirst. Yes some of them, in their delirium, during their four days chose to drink from those waters that couldn’t satisfy. And what I want to do right now is read a little portion of book called “In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis.” I had to edit this because it is so graphic. It brings home with power the principle that the water offered by this world will not satisfy, but will only kill your spiritual life.
“By nightfall, the situation at sea took one more precipitous turn. The dehydrated boys, their tongues swelling, their throats squeezing shut, and their minds unhinging, began drinking salt water. After hours of resisting that temptation, they drank in secret at first, as if to be ashamed, then they began to gorge themselves murmuring in pleasure as they sipped from the cool mirror of the sea. And one fellow here by the name of Dr. Haynes, a medical doctor, looked on in horror. His worst fear realized. Soon these boys would all be dead. He swam among them screaming and punching at their faces. But his pleas to stop were ignored. The boys lifted their grouping chins, regarded him coolly with glazed eyes, then lowered their jaws back into the waiting sea. He watched as their lips turned blue, he heard their breathing grow ragged and those who succumbed fell into violent fits and finally comas.”
And I’ll stop there, b/c the rest is just too graphic. But right now as I preach I feel like I am Dr. Haynes. And I am swimming around and screaming and with kindness punching at some faces, “Stop drinking from the salt water of this world!!” Some of you may already have had a flavor of that salt water and you’re convinced it will satisfy, and you are ignoring any pleas to stop and you continually lower your jaws back into that which is causing your lips to grow blue with spiritual darkness, your spiritual life is growing ragged, and you are falling into spiritually violent fits and your spiritual life looks like it’s in a coma. That is graphic, if not more graphic that what happens physically.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Psalm 63
Instead, enjoy a long drink from the spiritual river of pleasure! The Lord gives you the opportunity at every moment to quench your thirst at the pure fountain of joy! You are floating in the spiritual River and in a fountain of joy all the time! It’s in your heart. The Spirit is near you to give you the best of pleasures if you would claim God as your God, and thirst for Him to see His power and glory and commit your life to blessing His name in light of all the love he has shown to you on the cross. He wants to satisfy your heart. Come to him with your thirsty soul in troublesome times. As Jesus said, “Come unto me and drink!”