1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
David in the Wilderness
There was a time when David was king and a fugitive from his own land and forced to flee to the desert, namely, the time when his son Absalom rebelled and tried to overthrow his father’s throne. According to 2 Samuel 15:23 David fled the city, crossed the brook Kidron, and went into the wilderness. This is probably the experience behind the psalm.
“O God, Thou Art My God”
When David says, “O God, thou art my God,” he reasserts the rock under the quicksand of his own emotions. When he cries, “O God, thou art my God!” he doesn’t mean that he is always lifted above the pangs of soul-thirst. When he says, “O God, thou art my God,” he means at least these two things:
- When he thirsts, he will seek to slake his thirst on God alone and not on anything else: “O God, thou art my God.”
- And he means that when he seeks his God, God will be there and meet his need. “O God, thou art my God!”
Are You Like David?
Are you like David this morning? When you are driven into the wilderness by tragic and painful circumstances and you begin to suck for air in the quicksand of your own emotions, can you cry out among the jackals and the snakes, “O God, thou art my God!”? The covenant stands! There is a rock beneath and it will rise in time.
The Essence of True Worship
Even though worship does involve expressions of thankfulness to God for his gifts, this is not the essence of true worship. In fact there is a gratitude to God for his gifts that has no true worship in it at all. In other words there are people who love their health and family and job and hobbies, and thank God for them often, but don’t love God. They don’t savor God. And when God is not savored for the sweetness and excellence of who he is, he is not worshiped.
Desiring God More Than Life Itself
David makes this plain by the way he expresses his longings in verses 1 and 3. In verse 1 he says, “O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee.” This is not primarily a thirst for any of God’s gifts. It is a thirst for God. David has a heart for God. He has a taste for fellowship with God.
He makes this even more explicit in verse 3: “Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee.” This means that David wanted God more than he wanted life. And if you want God more than you want life, then you want God more than you want all the joys of this life—family, health, food, friendship, sexual relations, job-satisfaction, productivity, books, skateboards, computers, music, homes, sunsets, fall colors. When David says that the love of God is better than life and therefore better than all the beauty that life means, he is not denying that all these good things come from the love of God. He is warning us, rather, that if our hearts settle (even gratefully!) on the beauty of the gift and do not yearn for the infinitely greater beauty of the Giver, then we are idolaters and not worshippers of God.
Why We Need the Wilderness
I wonder whether this is why we cannot do without the wilderness experiences life. If all of life were a paradise, as so many people think it should be and as so many try to make it, then would we not much more often become addicted to savoring the gifts of God rather than God? Surely that is why Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And surely that is why he takes his loved ones again and again through the desert fires. He would disenchant us with the world and give us a taste for eternity.
And don’t think it came easy for David to give up the gifts of God. Not many days hence the rebellion in Jerusalem will be quelled, and Absalom dead with the darts of Joab, and David in his chamber crying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33).
The wilderness is the way of God to wean us from the most precious things in the world. And those who savor the vision of God know that his love is better than all that this life can give.
Taken from the sermon “Your Love is Better Than Life” by John Piper. Listen or read his entire sermon at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/your-love-is-better-than-life