A Devotion for 22 January 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
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. 9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. 10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
Whenever we speak of the Triune God, it is always sufficient to simply reference Him as God. In particular reference, we know Him as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. We are too lax in calling upon god our Father except in times of trouble and peril. This was such the case with David in the wilderness. He was beset about by enemies of his life as well as his soul. So, he remembers his first love in god. As a little lad, he watched over the sheep of his father in the solitude of the mountain slopes about Bethlehem. He had often occasion to look up at the heavenly wonders of the night sky and the brilliant Van Gogh-like variety of colors of the brilliant sunrise and sunset. He came to know, intimately, the Artist and Creator of these wonderful sights. Because God was his God, he grew in valor and stature.
When the armies of Israel were facing a great defeat by the enemy at the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17), a great challenge was made by the Philistines to combat their giant, Goliath. The soldiers of Israel trembled in their boots at the prospect. All seemed a tragic defeat. Then along came little David whose courage, if boiled down and melted into a bowl, amounted to more than that of all the army of Israel combined. One man, or boy, with the mighty faith of David, can defeat an enormous army in the field. God is not a God of massed forces, but of concentrated forces in those individuals whom He calls for the purpose. David rejected the heavy armor of man and opted for the less burdensome, and more efficacious, armor of God. That was enough! The burdens we bear in the power of man are overwhelming when we could far more simply choose the light, light burden of the Lord’s yoke instead.
The invocation at the beginning of this Psalm probably dates to the time of David’s fleeing to the Wilderness beyond the Brook of Kidron to escape the revolting forces of his own son, Absalom. The high desert lands are hot and devoid of abundant water much like the mundane terrain of the godless world comprising most of society today. But even the best of waters do not compare with the familiar deep well water of one’s own homeland. David thirsted – not for plain water – but for the water from the well at the gate of his beloved Bethlehem. “15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.” 2 Samuel 23:15-17 Three mighty men! Entire nations have been saved by one who is on the Lord’s side for our Lord is the God of Battles.
Now, David thirsts again – not for the water from the well at the Gate of Bethlehem, but for the Water of Life which only His Lord can provide. That is the water that whets a deep craving thirst without end! “. . . . my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” It is the soul itself that thirst for this Water of Life above any mundane waters of the world. The world, even with its seven seas, is devoid of this thirst-quenching Water for which David longs. When we recognize the wilderness of worldly sin that encompasses us, only the Heaven-Blessed Water of Life can suffice to satisfy our debilitating thirst. That thirst is pressing and urgent for gratification once we realize our sorrowful predicament. It needs a provision without delay: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.” The wise man or woman will not delay until hope is forlorn before calling upon the name of the Lord. It is a pressing matter at every stage of life to depend upon the tender mercies of the Lord. We must seek Him early – even at first light of day, or even in the earlier hours of the dawn.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:11-14, and, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
“To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” To which sanctuary does David refer? The sanctuary of a heart committed to his Lord. We need no fancy cathedral or marbled-floor church building to worship the Lord – those are empty spaces unless the inner vessel has been cleansed and quickened by the Holy Ghost. (see Ephesian 2) Isn’t the love of that One who dwells in the deep chambers of the heart greater than any in the world, and even prevails beyond the grave itself? “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. What a great blessing – LOVE that survives death!
This Psalm (the 63rd) was the favorite text of a great American general – George S. Patton, Jr. He was a military man of action, but also of daily prayer which may shock some who have read the yellow journalists’ reports of this non-political warrior and mastermind of the battlefield. He spoke frankly, as our most recent American President did, to the dismay of the political establishment that covers their lies in fragrant garlands of deceit. Though the military genius who conquered greater numbers of the enemy with the fewest American casualties, he was, at the same time, the most maligned. He was hounded by his own just as was David in the wilderness.
What is the great resource that makes the power and glory of God so magnificent? “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” These blessings and beauties of the sanctuary surpass all worldly claims. His beauty and love, power and might, are overwhelming to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. We cannot refrain from proclaiming the glory of His works in the same way that the lepers and blind could not keep quiet about their healing blessings even when commanded by the Lord to “tell no man.”
The sunny hours of the day fades and the shadows grow, and the curtain of night descend; but the heart sanctuary is still fixed on God our Maker. “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” The evil hearts of men are most active during the hours of darkness, for darkness is that time for which they long to cover their sinful ways. During the quiet solitude of the night, the darling of our soul often turns to the most important Light thereof- our Lord Jesus Christ! During the night watches as the guardsman calls the hour, we are reminded of the frailty our lives without a Redeemer and Lord. The smothering darkness of the world all around us closes, but then the night cloud is pierced by the blinding Light of God’s Love and Presence.
We need fear no evil for God is our Fortress and the rock of our Salvation. “But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.” The brilliance of the Sun’s rays will bleach our every offending organism if left to the Light of Day. Christ is our great Sun of Righteousness and the Beautiful Way in which we are led to beyond those Gates of Splendor which await all who follow Him instead of another. Do you, my friend, thirst after Him to see His Power and Glory as you have seen in the sanctuary of your heart?