In you I find my worth, my identity - Lauren Daigle
Read the Psalm.
So why this Psalm?
I like this Psalm because it tells me a whole lot about David...I like David...this Psalm gives us a window into the man ……….and if nothing else this morning let’s look through the window to see what we can learn….
I am also attracted to this Psalm because I am not good with abstract things….. I am the practical sort and David is using a real life practical situation to explain his relationship with God…David is a practical person…
These are the words which initially attracted me to the Psalm...
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water
I can just imagine David in the desert with a dry wind blowing and dust stuck to his sweaty face…. He wants to finish off the water, but he knows that he must ration it for the days ahead….. He knows this physical thirst… it is something he is familiar with….
So when he tries to quantify his feelings for God… when he tries to express what it feels like to…to be far from God…….when he does not feel God’s presence...when things are not going well……..and he needs God urgently.... this is the imagery he turns to….something real and practical....he can't think of anything in the human experience that is more desperate than a thirsty person….. And this is what he wants to express…..
Did David know what it was like to be in a desert? I would think so…. He lived in a dry part of the World…..
In fact the heading for this Psalm tells us that it was written while David was in the ‘Desert of Judah’...the wilderness of Judah…. Truly a dry and desolate place….
A bit of background//…..If we are to try to place this Psalm in David’s history...and I think we must…..There are two possible times when this could have been written …….and while the one scenario make more sense………. The other is more likely….
The first and most obvious possibility was during the long period of time when David was in the deserts of Ziph and Maon when Saul was chasing a younger David around…..
Saul is jealous of David and his success…..he tries to kill David on a number of occasions…...he decides that David needs to be hunted down and murdered.... There was a period of years where David had to go into hiding…. And the best places to hide were in the wilderness or in foreign cities and David used both of these places…
This must have been a very difficult period for David….. He was responsible for 600 men and their livelihoods… and there were very few people he could trust….David was on the run and he didn’t know where he was going to be in the days ahead… his life was constantly in danger……
There was one particular time when he heard that the town of Keilah was under threat with the Philistines robbing them and David came to their aid….. He attacked the Philistines and they had heavy losses….David and his men saved the day….
David stayed in Keilah for a while, he was obviously highly thought of in the town...with good reason because of the effort he had put in to save them…. but when Saul heard that he was living in the town….. he set off to catch David there..
God then tells David that the people of Keilah…. Those he had just saved...would betray him to Saul… so he fled again to the desert…..this time to a place called Ziph…
only for the people of Ziph to volunteer David’s whereabouts to Saul ….and David had to flee again… this time to Maon and even more desolate and dry place….
when Saul pursued him there he went up to Engedi …..what a difficult time….a time that made such a big impact on his life….
This Psalm could easily have been penned during this time….. It was surely dry and he really needed God right then… it must have felt like God had left him….that he was thirsty for God and his help….
Then there is another time found in 2 Samuel…. David has been king for a long period of time… he is getting older and his children are well grown….. In fact his son Absolom was a really good leader of men….but Absolom was power hungry...and he wanted to be king… Absolom spent years nurturing his image with the people...grooming them so that when the time came he could take over the kingdom…
As patient as he was, Absolom was not prepared to wait for his father’s passing...he organised a coup and David has to flee his own country…...What a low point in a life filled with fame and glory...his own son seeks to kill him….
In fact at one point when he is on the run and one of Saul’s descendants, Shimei, is throwing stones at him accompanied by a whole set of insults, David’s guards were keen to defend him by cutting off Shimei’s head…. But David says to them
“My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.
What an awful time….David then hides in the wilderness to avoid Absolom……
The desert theme is not as strong here as during David's time in the desert of Ziph and Maon but strangely…..this the more likely time for the writing of this Psalm….. For two reasons… it was a tough time for David and he was in the wilderness, but also...we read in the last line of the Psalm, “but the king will rejoice in God” this means that it could not have been written while Saul was chasing him as he was not king at that time So?….settled...David wrote the Psalm while hiding from Absolom….
Okay… so why the long explanation?
There is little doubt that David’s original ‘sojourn’ in the desert was a life defining time for him…..God allowed this time of hardship in order to grow His man…. The man who would have to lead Israel needs to be someone of strength…. Someone who knew how to fight, how to lead, to be resilient and to be reliant on his God….. and this Psalm is a great example of how this original experience in the desert is still relevant to him many years later….
It is still a point of reference for David…..
We know this because….What does David do when he finds himself in a ‘wilderness’? again.... When his kingdom has been taken from him…. When his son has betrayed him…. When his subjects are ridiculing him….. when he is without a home…..?
David ‘the king’ is not the young man he was…. He is also probably not so thirsty either…. Not physically anyway…..The king would be well provided for with water and wine…..
In this time of need David is upset… downhearted…. But he has something which is far greater than any physical resource…. He has experience…even more he has the experience of God in his life….. David knew God’s provision while escaping Saul….. and now in these tough times he is able to look back on this experience….and use it
He sings this Psalm… remembering God’s help all those years ago as well as at other times….reflecting on how this will influence how he approaches his position now…..
There is nothing quite like a threat to your life to getting us to return to God….to search out his presence in our lives….
We have found ourselves in a tough desert in the past 18 months….. what was your first reaction to the difficulties raised during this time….when your job was under threat,…. When we didn’t know about what the future holds…. When your vulnerable family members were exposed to the virus…..?...lonely and separated from family…. What did you and I have to turn to? Do you have a life defining moment to look back on?...like David did..
David recognised the tough times… he had experienced the desert before…… he had experienced a deep need for God before…. because there had been times when there was nothing else for him to hold onto….. more than that he knew God’s provision and he was able to remember and use this to gather himself……to get through this latest tough spot...
This is such a powerful help to us too….To be able to say…”God, this is a difficult time….but I know your character…I know your provision….You have been with me in tough times before…….and I will stand on these things… they will be my source of comfort and an anchor through the latest storm...or dry spell….
What is so interesting to me is how David goes about this….he doesn’t reflect on specific things that God has done for him, but …...he reflects on what he has learned about God’s character..
There are three things …...aspects of God’s character which David reflects on… three truths about God which give him strength….in
verse 1 You are my God
verse 3 Your love is better than life
verse 7 You are my help
Notice how each aspect of God’s character is an absolute… they do not rely on timing or events….you are…your love is…..you are…….
This is God being God….God’s love and provision are not just things that he did for David…..they are a reflection of who God is….
David knows this and is able to rest in the fact that God IS…..he will not change he always is….
This has been drilled into David through his experiences with God…. He has learned God’s character…..we can learn from him
Vs 1 You God, are my God
This sounds simple enough, but this simple statement is really powerful….and if times are tough, …..this needs to be the first thing we need to have right in our minds….. without this all the promises of God, all the benefits of being in Christ…..any claim to God’s help are just passing mist or grasping at straws…..”i know the plans I have for you” etc...mean nothing without ‘you God are my God”
David is very clear that the most important stronghold in his life is God…..
if the foundation for his life had been his kingdom, then all would be lost….. His kingdom is gone and he is hiding in the desert…..
If his most important foundation was his family ...and let’s be honest many of us understandably fall into this trap…. Then he would have nothing….his own son has taken over his throne and is looking to kill him…..
if the cornerstone of his life had been pride ….he is running away like a dog……
if his foundation had been the respect of the people for all the great things he had done for them…. They have just turned on him and instead they have chosen someone who has offered them shallow platitudes and made them promises without substance. This respect too has been removed….
In fact, they are throwing insults at him like stones as he makes his way to the wilderness….
As painful as it is to have lost these things, and let’s be clear they are extremely painful….. When everything else is stripped away…..David has the one thing left…. The thing that he has treasured most in his life…..you God are my God…..
David was able to cry out, “My God, my God”.......hang on we have heard that before…..?,,,,,David calls out just as Jesus did, in his deepest hour of anguish calls out “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”.....
of course there is a fundamental difference here… in the one case God the Father has abandoned Jesus…. He is on his own….But with David as with us God never abandons us….there are times for sure as with David here that God seems far off… when it seems that we are abandoned, ….but we are not……
And David because he has lead a life in which he has had to walk so close to God...where he has had to rely on him…. He knows that God is always there… his life experience has taught this to him… and it appears that in this case he reflects on the desert of Maon with Saul on his tail … another time he felt alone, when he thirsted for God……. God was there and provided for him….
The second statement David makes about God is…, “your love is better than life”.... Easy to say?
There are some great songs about love….grand statements of love….this is not a declaration of love…. David’s love of God is of no consequence here….David’s love of God is not important ….
A few years ago a friend of mine argued in front of his wife and mine that he did not need to tell his wife that he loved her…. She should know...after all he married her… he was completely wrong… we need to tell our wives and children that we love them…. And yes, even the husbands need to hear….
God does not need to be told how great his love is….or that we love Him….. we declare our love for God because it is true and because it grows our relationship with Him…
But it is an excellent idea for us to reflect on God’s love….. As David does here…
we left out a little word there….because…..”Because your love is better than life”
David does not just reflect on the love of God, but on the consequences of this love ….because….God’s love has consequences for our lives …..
What has David learned about God’s love?
It is very easy for you and me to say things like..”God’s love is better than life…..” really? …
Have you or I ever been in a situation where we have been able to compare the two….. If we want to know if one thing is better than another we need to compare…
as David reflects back on life, many times his life has been under threat… and not just when a passing arrow almost got him...he has lived for long periods with the constant threat of imminent death all around him...in battles...on journeys….and one of the most influential times, his life was under threat for years, while running from Saul…..
He has had times of great triumph, great riches and all his heart could desire, but also great lows,,,,yet he has also walked close to God and known a relationship of love…..
He has had plenty of opportunity to reflect on all that life has to offer in comparison to his relationship to God…. The lesson he has learned is that God’s love is greater than life…..
David is not the only person of course who has found this out…..it seems that as people get older there are two distinct groups that develop,,,, either they bitter about the world ...wasted opportunities and loneliness…. or they freely declare that God’s love is greater than all that has been lost… they hold onto their Bibles and spend hours in prayer…
David reflects and is able to declare that God’s love is greater than life….
And then once he has this truth clear in his mind he is able to praise God even in this difficult situation...it is not the temporary citation which controls David’s praise, but the consistency of God’s love..
He is able to declare….I am fully satisfied as with the richest of food…. Even although I am in this tough situation...
Another ‘because statement comes up next…
Because...you are my help
There are times when we find ourselves in a tough spot and we are not sure how we are going to get out of it…. So being good Christians we turn to God and we lay our problem at his feet...this is the right thing to do...after all we see David do it repeatedly right?.... Nearly every Psalm he calls out to God for help….
Except that this is not the full story...this verse gives us a much better understanding of David and his relationship with God….’You are’..’my help’. can you and I say this?
Or do we too often try to help ourselves and then we ask some other friend and then we Google it… maybe shoot up a prayer, but actually we look around for help and only when we are at our wits end do we cry out to God…. when nothing else seems to work….
David says, “ you are my help”... not one of my helps… not ‘my safety net’.....
you get the impression that David has lived a life where the answers are not easy to come by, where he has been on the edge everyday in a World that is out to get him at every turn….. And that he has had to rely on God daily… he has learned from early that without God he has no hope….
Wow! This David guy is special….. We can’t be like him… surely…… was he really just a man? Yes…. David has learned through experience about God being his help and about God’s love…
We can too….
Just as a personal testimony…...
COVID has been a terrible thing, it has changed the World, it has left so many lives devastated, but because we have not known what tomorrow will bring it has also forced us into a different relationship with God….
In my job, I have a thousand people relying on me to show them the way through the past 18 months and there was no precedent… only fear… fear of the virus and fear of the unknown…. making mistakes had life or death consequence….. I have no doubt that my nervous system has taken a knock, but I also have no doubt that this period will be a defining time in my life for me personally ….. A time I will always look back to where I learned that ‘God is my help’....
Every day I have had to rely on God to make decisions, to make decisions without precedent…. To make decisions that were scary,,,, I will never have any doubt that God walked next to me every day…
And although in my humanness I am sure that I will find a way to make plenty of silly decisions in the future...I will always have this time that I can remember where I was completely submerged in God’s help…..I will always be able to declare with David..; your right hand upholds me’... a constant help… a constant strength… the source of our hope and confidence…..in any situation...
What experience have you had in your life where you have had to rely completely on God and when have you had to learn these things that David learned way back in the deserts of Maon and Ziph?.... If you have walked with God for any period of time then you too have these times…...can’t remember off hand?
David has a suggestion for us….’On my bed I remember you,,I think of you through the watches of the night’….. What was David remembering? …..all the times that God was his help,,,his love and his God…
If we don’t find time for this … for this ‘remembering’ then all the cares and joys of the World can crowd our relationship with God out…..
What other part do we have in all this? What do we do in response to this God of ours?.....David says that we should revel in our God...But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him
He says we should ‘glory in God’......we should rejoice in God….
How do we ‘glory in God?’
David gives some suggestions of what he does…..in this Psalm he gives a whole list of ways…….very quickly...
I seek you..
I see you….
I behold you….
I will glorify you…
I will praise you….
I will lift my hands up to you…
I will be satisfied by you…..
I will sing…
I will remember…
I will think…..
I will cling to you….
I will rejoice in you...
I will roll around in thoughts about God and cover myself in his glory….to let it rub off on me and leave its mark on me….until my thirst for you is quenched…..
Thank you David for sharing your experience of God in such a deep and clear way with us all……
May we all be able to say with David….My God you are my God…..You are my help….Your love is better than life….