Loving God Loving People, Part 3 – Psalm 63:1-8

Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
4/4/04

A couple of weeks ago we began a series of studies based on Matthew 22:34-40. We’re calling this series, “Loving God, Loving People.” Let’s look again briefly at the scripture that is the basis for this series.

34  But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36  "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37  Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38  "This is the first and great commandment. 39  "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40  "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Last week we started considering how we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. We noted three basics to keep in mind. Loving God begins with Him—we love Him because He first loved us. Loving God demands our obedience and loving God requires our whole being.

As we continue this series today we’re going to look at Psalm 63:1-8. And by taking a closer look at this psalm, I believe we’ll obtain a clearer understanding of how we can love God with all our heart, soul and mind.

63:1  O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3  Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4  Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. 6  When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. 7  Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. 8  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

Thirsting and Longing for God

This psalm of David was written while he was in the wilderness. This could have been the time we see in 1 Samuel 23-24 when King Saul was pursuing David to take his life. Or it could have been when David fled from Absalom, his son, found in 2 Samuel 15. The text doesn’t make it clear. What is clear is the picture of barrenness David paints in verse one, which is contrasted with a picture of bounty in the verse five.

Have you ever experienced the kind of longing for God David describes in the first verse? His soul thirsted for God. His flesh longed for Him.

The very words that begin this psalm are important ones for us to note. David says, “O God, You are my God.” Matthew Henry’s notes that,

In all our addresses to God we must eye him as God, and our God, and this will be our comfort in a wilderness-state. We must acknowledge that God is, that we speak to one that really exists and is present with us, when we say, O God! which is a serious word; pity it should ever be used as a by-word. And we must own his authority over us and propriety in us, and our relation to him: "Thou art my God, mine by creation and therefore my rightful owner and ruler, mine by covenant and my own consent.’’ We must speak it with the greatest pleasure to ourselves, and thankfulness to God, as those that are resolved to abide by it: O God! thou art my God. (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Bible)

If we are going to love God with all our heart, soul and mind we need to understand as David did that God is our God. If we have trusted in Jesus Christ we have a relationship with a real and personal God. He isn’t some aloof deity in Heaven somewhere. He is a personal God who cares about us and is with us wherever we are. He was even with David in the wilderness. Even though atheists deny God’s existence and agnostics wonder if He exists, He truly does exist.

If we are to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, if we are to love Him with all that we have and all that we are, we need to realize that He is real and He is our God and He is with us wherever we go. He is with us in every situation we face. He’s there when we’re healthy and there when we’re sick. He’s there when we face a trial and He’s there when things are good. He’s there when we are lonely and He’s there when loved ones surround us. God is in our midst.

Do you want to love God with all your heart, soul and mind? Then say with David, “O God, You are my God,” and understand that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever situation you face that God is there with you. Don’t ignore Him.

Once in awhile, little Josiah—he’s about 20 months old now—will come and stand by me. It might be when I’m studying or doing some other work at the computer, he’ll just come by and stand beside me for a moment. I’ll usually take advantage of the opportunity to pick him up and hold him. If I don’t he’s gone pretty quick. But I love him and I don’t want to ignore him. Josiah is my son. That means something to me. I have a relationship with him that is special.

So it is with God. He is our God and loving Him with all our heart and soul and mind, we’ll say with David, “O God, You are my God,” and we’ll know the truth of those words in every situation of our lives.

The next phrase in verse one—early will I seek You,—is also key in our understanding of how we should love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The idea that is being conveyed here is that there’s a deep sincerity in David’s seeking after God. The NASB puts it like this,

I shall seek Thee earnestly;

If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, you will be seeking Him earnestly like David did. You’ll be seeking out opportunities to commune with Him, to worship Him and to fellowship with Him.

Who do you like to spend the most time with in your life? Isn’t it the ones you love the most?

Is it your deepest desire to find time to spend alone with God in His word and in prayer? Do you eagerly look for opportunities to spend time worshipping God?

If you love God with all our heart, soul and mind, you’ll thirst and long for Him like David did, with all of your heart.

Note also that David wasn’t satisfied with a deep longing for God. He acted on that deep desire for God and sought after Him. In verse 2 we see David’s desire to behold God’s power—to see God’s power at work.

Beholding God

He says, “I have looked for You in the sanctuary To see Your power and glory.” The Hebrew word for sanctuary here denotes the sacredness and holiness of God. David had seen the power and glory of God. God is completely worthy of our love. He is a holy and powerful God and is full of glory.

Sometimes the objects of our love aren’t worthy. There are those we choose to love who really don’t deserve our love. Sometimes our affections are misplaced on temporal things that won’t last. We may love our jobs or our houses or our possessions but none of these things are worthy of our love like God is. He is completely worthy of our love. Love for one who is worthy is never wasted.

If we behold God like David did in the sanctuary and we see His power and glory, we’ll want to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. He is worthy of that kind of love! Thirst and long for God! Behold Him in His power and glory! Long to see His power at work. When you do this, you won’t be able to help but to love Him with all your heart, soul and mind.

But we can do still more to shape our lives in such a form that we love God with all our heart, soul and mind

Praising God

In verse 3 we see that David’s lips were filled with praise for God because he understood that God’s loving kindness is better than life. Is God more important to you than life itself? Here is David in the wilderness—it’s very likely this is a time he was running for his life—and what is on his lips? Praise!

It reminds me of Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are in prison and what do they do? They pray and sing hymns of praise to God! If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, praise for Him will be on your lips even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

David could have been sitting around grumbling and complaining about being in the wilderness. Instead, he knew that the Lord’s loving-kindness is better than life and he chose to praise! If we love God as we should our lips will be filled with praise! C. S. Lewis said…

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

If we’re going to fully delight in God and love Him with our heart, soul and mind, then we need to complete that like C.S. Lewis expresses, with our praise for Him. Our praise for God is our way of expressing to God that we love Him and how much we love Him!

I know Carolyn likes to hear me tell her that I love her! She loves it when I tell her she’s beautiful. It’s natural for us to praise the ones we love. In the same way when we love God with all our heart, soul and mind then praise should pour from our lips.

Thirst and long for God! Behold God! Praise God! These are ways we can express to God that we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. And yet there’s another way we can express our all-encompassing love for God.

Blessing God

In verse 4 David says, “I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” The word for bless here can also mean to kneel. We think of kneeling as a way of expressing reverence. Lifting hands in God’s name is an act of worship. A.W. Tozer said of worship…

Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. ( A. W. Tozer, quoted in D. J. Fant, A. W. Tozer, Christian Publications, 1964, p. 90)

David had a heart that worshipped God and if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, we’ll have a heart that worships too. In the NKJV, it says, “I will bless you while I live,” but a better rendering of that is found in the NASB which says…

So I will bless Thee as long as I live;

As long as we live, if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, we’ll worship Him. It won’t be just for an hour on Sunday during a worship service, but it will be something we practice throughout the week. It will be something that marks our lives as long as we have breath. We will bow humbly before our great God and we’ll see and understand His power and glory. We will live our lives with a sense of reverence for the holiness of God and with a proper sense of our own humility.

If we truly love God with all our heart, soul and mind we will be struck with awe and wonder at His goodness and His greatness. When we gather here to worship corporately as the body of Christ on Sunday mornings, I encourage you to do so from a heart that loves God completely. Oh be careful that you don’t sit there and think about what you’re having for dinner or where you’re going for dinner. Don’t be distracted by those around you but have a heart that is kneeling in awe and reverence before a Holy God. Fix your attention on Him. Like the chorus says, “Let’s forget about ourselves…”

If we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, we will bless Him, we will worship Him as long as we live.

We often put cheap substitutes in our lives and instead of having this kind of a passion for worshipping God we are passionate about sports or our garden or whatever it is that delights us. Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying those things but our love for God should be our first and foremost delight and we should make it our aim to say with David, “I will bless You as long as I live.”

There’s something wonderfully fulfilling and satisfying about thirsting and longing for God and beholding God and praising God and blessing God.

Satisfaction in God

In contrast to the first verse where we see longing and thirsting, in verse 5 we find a “soul that is satisfied with marrow and fatness.” We find sweet satisfaction in God when we love him with our whole being. The NIV puts it this way, “my soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.”

Have you ever gone to a restaurant where there was a great buffet loaded with all kinds of delicious food? You go up and choose what looks good to you and then you sit down and eat. You finish your meal and you’re so satisfied that you really couldn’t eat another bite. You’ve enjoyed a good meal and you’re full and satisfied.

That’s the picture David gives us. He knows the satisfaction that is found in God alone. If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, you’re going to experience a satisfaction that nothing in this world can match. We used to have a little refrigerator magnet with this great quote from John Piper…

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

When our souls are satisfied in God like David’s, then we will bring God the most glory. Look at what else this satisfaction brings. David says “And my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.” If your soul is satisfied in God you will know true joy and you won’t be able to stop yourself from speaking of God’s goodness.

Remembering God

If you love God with all our heart, soul and mind, you’ll do like David did and remember Him on your bed and meditate on Him during the nighttime hours. If you love God, you’re going to be thinking about Him even as you go to sleep at night. Matthew Henry says it well…

Thoughts of God must not be transient thoughts, passing through the mind, but abiding thoughts, dwelling in the mind.

Are you always thinking of God? If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind your thoughts of Him will be constant. You will have abiding thought of God and His goodness in the early hours of the day and the late hours of the day and during the hours between rising and sleeping. Remember God. Think about Him constantly! And I’m not talking about having a pious, holier-than-thou attitude where you walk around all day with your eyes gazing heavenward. I’m talking about a heart that truly longs for the fullness of God and takes great joy in His blessings throughout the day—all day, every day.

There’s something wonderful about having your heart constantly fixed on God and it’s that you will begin to recognize with David God’s constant care for you.

Recognizing His Care

When David remembered God in the nighttime hours he couldn’t help but praise God for His constant care. In verse 7 he says, “Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice”

David knew that it was God who was watching over Him. It was God who helped Him each day. David knew that he was constantly sheltered in the shadows of God’s wings.

Do we recognize how God cares for us each and every day of our lives? If we don’t give Him the credit for all He does for us and take the credit for ourselves we’ll fail to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.

If we love God as we should we’ll realize how dependent we are on His care and help. If we are to love God completely, we must fully understand how His loving hand is guiding us and taking care of us. We’re not going to be puffed up at our own accomplishments but instead we’ll see the mighty wings of grace that God has sheltered us with throughout our lives.

When we recognize God’s care for us and we give God all the glory for what He’s done for us then we’ll long to follow Him closely.

Following Him Closely

In verse 8 David says, “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

Loving God as we should will cause us to respond like David did. We will follow God closely. We will cling to Him. We will stay close to Him. We won’t be wandering around doing things our way. As the KJV puts it, we’ll follow “hard” after Him.

David was called a “man after God’s own heart.” David knew what it meant to love God with all his heart, soul and mind. Are you thirsting and longing for God today? Are you beholding God and praising God? Are you blessing God and satisfied in Him? Do you remember God and think about Him continually? Do you recognize His care for you? Are you following Him closely? Can you say, “O God, you are my God?” Are you loving God like you should? Oh that you would allow the words of Psalm 63 to challenge you to a deeper and more precious love for God. Only when we begin to love God in this way can we truly begin to love people.