This is a good psalm for us to study this week because the writer of this psalm was going through the same thing we are: he was unable to go to the place of worship. For the psalmist, that would have been the tabernacle. For us, it is our church.
Most of us are under some type of “stay at home” order. Groups are not allowed to meet, including churches, in an attempt to stop the spread of the corona virus. Missing church for weeks with no end in sight is a depressing thought. I already feel out of sync and we just started! It will be really difficult being home on Easter Sunday. And for my church, it would be the first Easter with our new teaching pastor.
Being absent from the gathering has made me reminisce about good times at church. I thought about our new pastor’s first Sunday, when so many people came down to the “altar” to pray for our church. I thought about times it seemed the Spirit really moved. The banners with the names of God came to mind also. There have been many wonderful moments. I miss being there.
Longing For God
The psalmist missed meeting with God at the Tabernacle. The heading of the psalm said it was about David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. David was there quite a bit, so we are not sure of the exact time he was thinking about. It might have been when his son, Absalom, led a rebellion against him. 2 Samuel 15-16 tell the heartbreaking story of David walking bare footed out of Jerusalem while weeping after the people rejected him and chose Absalom.
David described his longing in graphic terms. He earnestly sought God as if his soul was so thirsty he felt faint in a place where there was no water. The Hebrew word for “soul” means one’s whole being. He longed for God like he would long for water if he were walking through a hot desert.
This is interesting because he did not thirst to be back on the throne. He longed for the presence of God in the sanctuary. There he had seen the power and glory of God.
This is where we identify with him. We long to be gathered together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing God’s glory and power as we worship him. Seeing people repent, watching baptisms, singing with all our hearts, hearing the Word preached, feeling the Holy Spirit bring us into the presence of God.
Worshipping in Difficult Times
Although the psalmist missed and longed for the sanctuary, he still looked to God and worshipped him. He said God’s steadfast love is better than life and he would praise God for it. (3) “Steadfast love” usually refers to God’s covenant love for Israel, always being faithful to do what he promised in that covenant. David praised God for his unfailing love.
David also blessed God, committing to blessing him forever. (4) he would lift up his hands to God in worship and prayer, and to God only. Lifting up hands to God while praying was the manner of the Jews, focusing their attention only on God. This tradition endured to New Testament times. In 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul told Timothy “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands…” .
As David committed to life long worship, even while separated from the sanitary, we need to do the same. We may be housebound for a short time or a long time. We do not know. But we must not let this separation from our gathering separate us from God. Commit and re-commit yourself to continual, life long worship no matter where you are.
Staying in Fellowship with God
David’s relationship with God was the main thing in his life. Therefore, he could say he would be satisfied with God as he might be if he ate rich and fat food. All of us know what he means. We have eaten a meal of our favorite food that was prepared perfectly and at the end of the meal were satisfied and happy.
So David was satisfied and happy in his relationship with God. It overflowed in vocal praise. (5) This happened as he went to bed, remembering God, meditating on Him in the night, remembering that God helped him and protected him.
And knowing that God was the only source of spiritual satisfaction, David said he would cling to God, knowing God held him up. (8)
David clung to God by praying and meditating on God. He talked to God and he thought about God with intention and deliberation.
You can cling to God in this time of isolation or you can wander off into apathy, dissatisfaction, and fear. You cling to God by spending time in the Word, praying, expressing thankfulness. You wander from God by neglecting all of these things while you watch television or sleep and get depressed.
The Failure of David’s Enemies
David said those who sought to destroy him would die, be separated permanently from God, and their bodies eaten by jackals. For the Jews, the desecration of a body was the ultimate humiliation and degradation. This would happen to David’s enemies because David was God’s man. God chose him to be king. Opposition to David was opposition to God.
In contrast, the king would rejoice in God. So would all the people who swore by God. This swearing is not cursing as we know it, but acknowledging God as the sole God and the ultimate power. For example, Deuteronomy 6:13 says “It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.”
David longed for the sanctuary because the was where worship was conducted. The sacrifices were offered there. The priests served there. David had bought the ark back from Philistia and installed it in Israel. (2 Samuel 6) Thirty thousand people went with him to bring it up to Jerusalem. They sang and played instruments “before the Lord” in great joy. (2 Samuel 6:5)
David sacrificed an ox and danced with all his might. He offered the burnt offerings and peace offerings. There was a great feast. Maybe we should do something like this when we can return to the church building. David was compelled by the law to worship in one place.
We have a tremendous advantage and gift. We know that God does not dwell in a temple made with hands. (Acts 7:48) He dwells with us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) To those who love and believe in Jesus, the Father sends the Holy Spirit to teach us and to give us peace. (John 14:26-27)
Since the Holy Spirit dwells within each one of us, each one of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Additionally, no matter where we are, when two or more of us meet together in Jesus name, he promised to be among us. Today, we meet together electronically, through the Internet. We are together and Jesus is with us.
I believe the word for us today is to be like David. Long for the sanctuary and corporate worship. But, more so, long for fellowship with God. Fulfill that longing by reading and studying the Bible. Spend time in prayer. Pray for the spiritual welfare of all of us in Koinonia and at Travis, pray for the defeat of this virus, pray for us to return to church soon. Meditate on God’s word. Fellowship by contacting other believers. Do not let yourself drift away and do not succumb to fear and depression.
God empowered David to defeat his enemies and return to the throne. God can conquer the corona virus. David depended on God and gave him glory. So can we and so we should.
God gave Aaron, the high priest, a blessing to give the people of Israel. I would like to bless you with it today:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.