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"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Ps 63:1
David here speaks of seeking God for what he is in himself as distinct from what he has to give. His gifts are one thing, himself is another. Therefore he says, O God, you are my God; early will I seek you;" you as distinct from your gifts. The bride may value her bridegroom’s costly gifts; but what are his gifts apart from himself? So the Church highly prizes her royal Husband’s gifts and blessings; but what are these compared to Him who, in her admiring eyes, is the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely? Thus, as seen by the eye of faith, there is that in his most blessed Majesty which alone can satisfy the soul taught by his Spirit and influenced by his grace.
The soul was made for him; it was gifted with immortality by him. Powers and faculties were given to it that might be expanded into an infinite capacity to know and to enjoy him. So that being created for God, nothing but God can really satisfy its cravings and desires. But there is that in him, as revealed to a believing heart, which can satisfy. His favor is life; his presence heaven begun; his love a foretaste of eternal bliss. Thus in seeking the blessings he has to bestow, we do not seek them independent of the Giver. We love the gift, but we prize the Giver more. Without the Giver, the gift would be worthless. The bridal ring is the pledge of union. But what would be the ring without the bridegroom? Mockery. So all the favors and blessings which the Lord has to bestow, if he gave all and withheld himself, would be but to mock us. But in giving them, he gives himself.
As when the bridegroom puts the ring on the finger of his betrothed he gives himself with the gift; so when the Lord seals a sense of his espousal upon the heart of his beloved one, in giving his love he gives himself. Nor can anything else satisfy the desires of an awakened soul. "It is Jesus," it says, "that I want; without him, heaven itself would be hell; without him, life would not be life, nor glory be glory, nor immortality be immortality!"
As without the sun, the earth could not exist; so the Church could not exist without Jesus. And as in the absence of the sun, no candles could take the place of heaven’s own glorious light; so no sparks, however bright, of fires kindled by human hands, could make up to the Church for the absence of the Sun of righteousness. He must be, as he is, our all; having him, we have everything; not having him, we have nothing. The Lord the Spirit write that truth deeply upon your heart that you may take it wherever you go, and make it ever your bosom companion. If you have Jesus, you have everything; if you have not him, you have nothing. This continual feeling of happiness in and with him, and of misery out of and without him, as maintained in your breast by the power of the blessed Spirit, will be leading you to seek him perpetually. This made David say, "Early will I seek you."
"To see your power and your glory, so as I have seen you in the sanctuary." Ps 63:2
Every place is "a sanctuary" where God manifests himself in power and glory to the soul. Moses, doubtless, had often passed by the bush which grew in Horeb; it was but a common hawthorn bush, in no way distinguished from the other bushes of the grove; but on one solemn occasion it was all "in a flame of fire," for "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire" out of the midst; and though it burnt with fire, it was not consumed. God being in the bush, the ground round about was holy, and Moses was bidden to take his shoes from off his feet. Was not this a sanctuary to Moses? It was, for a holy God was there.
Thus wherever God manifests himself, that becomes a sanctuary to a believing soul. We do not need places made holy by the ceremonies of man, but places made holy by the presence of God. Then a stable, a hovel, a hedge, any homely corner may be, and is a sanctuary, when God fills your heart with his sacred presence, and causes every holy feeling and gracious affection to spring up in your soul. If ever you have seen this in times past, you have seen God in the sanctuary; for then your heart becomes the sanctuary of God, according to his own words, "You are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them." Are not your very bodies the temples of the Holy Spirit? (1Co 6:19.) Does not Christ dwell in the heart by faith? And is he not formed there, the hope of glory? It is, then, not only in Christ without, but in Christ within that we see the power and glory of God. It is in this way that we become consecrated to the service and glory of God, set our affections upon heavenly things, and obtain a foretaste of eternal joy.
"My soul follows hard after you." Ps 63:8
The Lord (we speak with reverence) does not allow himself at first to be overtaken. The more the soul follows after him, the more he seems to withdraw himself, and thus he draws it more earnestly on the pursuit. He means to be overtaken in the end—it is his own blessed work in the conscience to kindle earnest desires and longings after himself; and therefore he puts strength into the soul, and "makes the feet like hinds’ feet" to run and continue the chase. But in order to whet the ardent desire, to kindle to greater intensity the rising eagerness, the Lord will not allow himself to be overtaken until after a long and arduous pursuit.
This is sweetly set forth in the Song of Solomon, Song 5:2-8. We find there the Lord coming to his bride; but she is unwilling to open to him until "he puts his hand in by the hole of the door." She would not rise at his first knocking, and therefore he is obliged to touch her heart. But "when she opened to her Beloved, he was gone;" and no sooner does he withdraw himself, than she pursues after him; but she cannot find him; he hides himself from her view, draws her round and round the walls of the city, until at length she overtakes, and finds Him whom her soul loves. This sweetly sets forth how the Lord draws on the longing soul after himself.
Could we immediately obtain the object of our pursuit, we would not half so much enjoy it when attained. Could we with ’a wish’ bring the Lord down into the soul, it would be but the lazy wish of the sluggard, who "desires, and has not." But when the Lord can only be obtained by an arduous pursuit, every faculty of the soul is engaged in panting after his manifested presence; and this was the experience of the Psalmist, when he cried, "My soul follows hard after you."
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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 63". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany