Psalm 63:5


We may imagine the psalmist in the wilderness. It is night. He stands at his tent door. The light of moon and stars falls on a sandy waste stretching into dimness and mystery. He is lonely and sad. The emptiness of all around and the memory of better times breed a great longing in his soul. It is not as if it were something new and strange, rather it is the revival of the deepest and strongest cravings of his heart, that as he muses gather force and intensity, and must express themselves in song. The key verses seem to be vers. 1, 5, 8.

I. THE SOUL'S LONGING. (Vers. 1-4.) When we "thirst for God," we naturally look back and recall the times when we had the truest and fullest enjoyment of his presence. We think of "the sanctuary." It was not the outward glory; it was not the splendid ritual; it was not the excitement of the great congregation; but it was the vision of God that then brought peace and joy to the soul. And that is what is craved again - more life and fuller: "To see thy power and thy glory." There are often circumstances which intensify and strengthen our longings. When we come to know God, not only as God, but as our God and our Redeemer, we feel that it is a very necessity of our being, that it is our life, to see him and to serve him, to love him, to worship him, to rejoice in him as all our Salvation and all our Desire.

II. THE SOUL'S SATISFACTION. (Vers. 5-7.) What alone can satisfy the soul is the vision of God; not God afar off, but nigh; not God in nature, or in the Law, or in the imagination of our hearts, but God in Christ. Here is true and abiding satisfaction, infinite truth for the mind, eternal righteousness for the conscience, perfect love for the heart. Philip said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" and the answer of our Lord was, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." The more we meditate on this possession, the more we rejoice and give thanks. We cannot but praise. "As the spirit of the whole Book of Psalms is contracted into this psalm, so is the spirit and soul of the whole psalm contracted into this verse" (Donne). "Because thou hast been my Help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice" (ver. 7).

III. THE SOUL'S RESOLUTION. (Vers. 8-11.) There is mutual action. The soul cleaves to God, and God cleaves to the soul. There is a double embrace - we both hold and are upheld. The result is invigoration - the quickening glow of life through all our being, the free and joyous resolve to cleave to God, and to follow him in love and devotion all our days. Our needs are constant, and God's love never fails. When we are weak, his strength makes us strong; when we are weary, his comforts sustain our fainting souls; when we are ready to sink in the waters, his voice gives us courage, and his strong arm brings us salvation. God ever comes to those who want him. Desire on our part is met by satisfaction on his part. More and more as we love and serve we enter into the joy of our Lord. Our heart is prophet to our heart, and tells of vanquishment of the enemy, of the coming glory and the pleasures which are at God's right hand forevermore. - W.F.









My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips.
I. WHAT WE UNDERSTAND BY THE PIETY OF TASTE AND SENTIMENT. Suppose two pupils of a philosopher, both emulous to make a proficiency in science; both attentive to the maxims of their master; both surmounting the greatest difficulties to retain a permanent impression of what they hear. But the one finds study a fatigue like the man tottering under a burden; to him study is a severe and arduous task; he hears because he is obliged to hear what is dictated. The other, on the contrary, enters into the spirit of study; its pains are compensated by its pleasures; he loves truth for the sake of truth; and not for the sake of the encomiums conferred on literary characters and the preceptors of science. So he who has a speculative piety, and he who has a piety of taste and sentiment, are both sincere in their efforts; both devoted to their duty; both pure in purpose; and both alike engaged in studying his precepts, and in reducing them to practice; but oh, how different is their state! The one prays because he is awed by his wants, and because prayer is the resource of the wretched. The other prays because the exercise of prayer transports him to another world; because it vanishes the objects which obstruct his divine reflections; and because it strengthens those ties which unite him to that God whose love constitutes all his consolation and all his treasure.

II. WHAT JUDGMENT WE SHOULD PASS UPON OURSELVES WHEN DESTITUTE OF THE HEARTFELT PIETY WE HAVE JUST DESCRIBED.

1. When the privation is general; when a conviction of duty, and the motives of hope and fear are ever requisite to enforce the exercises of religion; when we have to force ourselves to read God's Word, to pray, to study His perfections, and to participate of the pledges of His love in the Holy Sacrament. It is not very likely that a regenerate soul should be always abandoned to the difficulties and duties imposed by religion, that it should never experience those comforts conferred by the Holy Spirit, which make them a delight.

2. The privation of divine comforts should induce us to pass severe strictures on ourselves, when we do not make the required efforts to be delivered from so sad a state.

III. THE CAUSES WHICH DEPRIVE US OF THE PIETY OF TASTE AND SENTIMENT.

1. With the exception of those called heroes in the world, mankind seldom sacrifice their ease, their sensuality, their effeminacy, to high notions, to ambition, and the love of glory. And how often have the heroes themselves sacrificed all their laurels, their reputation, and their trophies to the charm of some sensible pleasure?

2. The imagination captivates both the senses and the understanding. A good which is not sensible; a good even which has no existence, is contemplated as a reality, provided it have the decorations proper to strike the imagination.

3. A present, or at least, an approximate good, excites, for the most part, more vehement desires, than a good which is absent, or whose enjoyment is deferred to a remote period.

4. Recollection is a substitute for presence; I would say, that a good in the possession of which we have found delight, pro, duces in the heart, though absent, much the same desires, as that which is actually present.

5. A good, ascertained and fully known by experience, is much more capable of inflaming our desires, than a good of which we have but an imperfect notion, and which is known only by the report of others.

6. All things being equal, we prefer a good of easy acquisition, to one which requires care and fatigue.

7. A good beyond our reach, a good that we do not possess, and that we have no hope so to do, does not excite any desire.

8. Avocations fill the capacity of the soul.

(Jas. Saurin.)

I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING SATISFYING THE NEW CREATION.

1. Their souls need to be satisfied.

2. That which satisfies the soul comes from above,

3. There is enough in God to satisfy the soul.

4. The Lord hath satisfied the soul.

5. The Lord promises to satisfy the soul (Psalm 132:15; Psalm 37:19; Psalm 22:26; Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 36:8).These, and all the promises of God, are faithful sayings, and pleadable at the foot of His throne. In believing and pleading them, the race of new creatures, who exercise themselves unto godliness, will be forward to confess, where it is proper to tell their experience, that their souls have been satisfied as with marrow and fatness.

II. SHOW WHAT IS IN THE GOODNESS AND LOVINGKINDNESS OF GOD TO SATISFY THE SOUL, AS WITH MARROW AND FATNESS. "Marrow" is an oily substance which is enclosed in some of the bones of certain animals. It strengthens them, and promotes their growth, and the health and vigour of the whole body. "Fatness," in the language of Scripture, is used to signify the best of anything. "The fatness of the earth" is a soil which, under the influence of the heavens, bringeth forth abundantly. "The fatness of the olive" is a tree that bears the best and greatest abundance of fruit. And "the fatness of the house of God" is the abundance of grace, which enriches and satisfies the souls of His people.

1. The glory of the attributes of God satisfies the soul.

2. The soul is satisfied with the truth of the Word of God.

3. The beauties in the works of God satisfy the soul.

4. The richness of the gifts of God satisfies the soul.

5. The variety of blessings in the fulness of God is satisfying to the soul.

III. SHOW ON WHAT GROUNDS NEW CREATURES ASSURE THEIR HEARTS OF THE SATISFYING OF THEIR SOUL, AS WITH MARROW AND FATNESS, IN GOD EVERYWHERE.

1. The excellence of His lovingkindness.

2. The richness of His goodness — a treasury that is never shut, and never empty.

3. The freeness of His mercy — an attribute which is satisfying to the souls of the poor and needy everywhere.

4. The might of His power.

5. The glory of His holiness.

6. The truth of His faithfulness. The regular and uninterrupted succession of summer and winter, cold and heat, day and night, is a demonstration of the faithfulness of God in ruling the heavens according to His own establiShment; and ground to our faith to assure our hearts, that His establishment with Christ is firm and sure.

7. The uncertainty of His unchangeableness.

8. The prevalence of mediation. The promises of God in Christ the Mediator are all yea and amen, and pleadable in His name. On this ground we assure our hearts that His promises in Him shall be performed, and our souls satisfied in their performance as with marrow and fatness.

(A. Shanks.)

We can have as much of God as we desire. There is a quest which finds its object with absolute certainty, and which finds its object simultaneously with the quest. And Chose two things, the certainty and the immediateness with which the thirst of the soul after God passes into a satisfied fruition of the soul in God, are what are taught us here in our text; and what you and I, if we comply with the conditions, may have as our own blessed experience. There is one search about which it is true that it never fails to find; the certainty that the soul thirsting after God shall be satisfied with God results at once from His nearness to us, and His infinite willingness to give Himself, which He is only prevented from carrying into act by our obstinate refusal to open our hearts by desire, It takes all a man's indifference to keep God out of his heart, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being," and that Divine love, which Christianity teaches us to see on the throne of the universe, is but infinite longing for self-communication,. God's love is an infinite desire to give Himself. If only we open our hearts — and nothing opens them so wide as longing — He will pour in, as surely as the atmosphere streams in through every chink and cranny, as surely as if some great black rock that stands on the margin of the sea is blasted away, the waters will flood over the sands behind it. So, unless we keep God out, by not wishing Him in, in He will come. The certitude that we possess Him when we desire Him is as absolute. As swift as Marconi's wireless message across the Atlantic and its answer, so immediate is the response from Heaven to the desire from earth. What a contrast that is to all our experiences! Is there anything else about which we can say, "I am quite sure that if I want it I shall have it. I am quite sure that when I want it I have it"? Nothing! There may be wells to which a man has to go, as the Bedouin in the desert has to go, with empty water-skins, many a day's journey, and it comes to be a fight between the physical endurance of the man and the weary distance between him and the spring. Many a man's bones, and many a camel's, lie on the track to the wells, who lay down gasping and black-lipped, and died before they reached them. We all know what it is to have longing desires which have cost us many an effort, and efforts and desires have both been in vain. Is it not blessed to be sure that there is One whom to long for is immediately to possess? Then there is the other thought here, too, that when we have God we have enough. That is not true about anything else. There is always something lacking in all other satisfactions. They address themselves to sides, and angles, and faces of our complex nature; they leave all the others unsatisfied. The table that is spread in the world, at which various longings and capacities seat themselves as guests, always fails to provide for some of them, and whilst some, and those especially of the lower type, are feasting full, there sits by their side another guest, who finds nothing on the table to satisfy his hunger. But if my soul thirsts for God, my soul shall be satisfied when I get Him.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE THEME OF PRAISE.

1. The Lord Himself.

2. His name.

3. His power.

4. His mercy.

5. His lovingkindness.

6. His holiness.

7. His goodness.

8. His faithfulness.

9. His word.

10. His wonders.

II. THE EXPRESSION OF PRAISE.

1. By words.

2. By voices.

3. By actions.

III. THE CHEERFULNESS WHICH ENLIVENS THE EXERCISE OF GODLY MEN IN PRAISING THE LORD.

1. Cheerfulness arises from God and the things of God, which are themes of our praise.

2. Cheerfulness in praise arises from the anointing and sealing of the Holy Spirit.

3. Cheerfulness in praise arises from the blessings with which it enriches experience. The Lord is good and kind to His people in their glorifying Him with praise, and shows them His salvation.

4. Cheerfulness in praise arises from hope of acceptance in the beloved. This hope is lively and joyful, founded in the mediation of the great High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, and confirmed with promises sprinkled with His blood.In conclusion, observe —

1. The mouth of the man of piety is his organ of praise. Regeneration renews the whole man after the image of God, but creates no faculties and members. By this grace the faculties and members are renewed, and fitted to the dignified uses for which they were originally created; and in these uses are, Or ought to be, employed by pious men, every day, and everywhere.

2. In using their mouth as their organ of praise, the lips of men of piety are anointed with oil of joy.

3. The exercise of pious men on earth is continued in heaven.

(A. Shanks.)

There are three things which do here open the mouths and lips of such as David was —

1. Joy; that is a spreading affection, which does not keep within its bounds, but does dilate and expatiate itself, that others may joy with it; and so here, it is joyful lips. David did so please himself in the expectation of those gracious opportunities which he now prays for, as that he promises himself a great deal of joy and rejoicing from them.

2. Love, and that to others with whom he conversed. This, it made him to speak likewise, that having found this sweetness in his own soul, he might make others likewise in some degree partakers of it. Now, while he was in the wilderness, he was solitary, and all alone by himself, he wanted the opportunity; when he came into the sanctuary, he hoped to have the mutual benefit of the communion of saints; and so in this respect should come with his mouth to praise God with joyful lips.

3. Thankfulness likewise to God. This it does also vent itself here. "My mouth shall praise Thee," that is, celebrate Thy goodness towards me. It is the best recompense which we can make to God for all His favours and kindnesses to us, even to praise Him, and bless Him for them.

(T. Horton, D. D.)

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