Psa_63:1 is one of those verses of Scripture that once you read it, you can’t leave it: “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.” Once David understood who God (’Elōhiym, January 7) is, he longed for God in a way that should strike all of us.
To get the full impact of this verse, we need to set the stage (2 Samuel 15). After being driven from his throne by the political intrigue of his own son, Absalom, David is forced to leave Jerusalem and head into some of the most desolate, dismal, and depressing land on earth, the wilderness of Judea, which stretches right to the banks of the Dead Sea to the east.
David, therefore, writes: “My flesh longeth for thee.” Longeth is kāmah (H3642), which appears only here in the OT and literally means “to faint” and is related to an Arabic word that means “be pale of face, gray.” Driven into exile, it wasn’t his possessions, power, or position that David missed; rather it was God and the “sanctuary” (2Sa_15:2), that is, God’s presence in the tabernacle, that place of prayer and public worship, that David longed for.
Especially striking is that kāmah speaks of something physical. David’s craving for God was not some “emotional high,” rather a physical need; without God’s presence, his face was pale and he was physically ill. As the story continues, Zadok and Abiathar actually brought the Ark of the Covenant to David, sincerely thinking this would comfort and encourage him, but David sent them back. Why? It wasn’t some object that David needed, no matter how sacred. It was God that David needed. He didn’t want a picture; he needed the Person.
We, too, live in a “dry and thirsty land,” a desolate world. While it has amusements, some of which we can certainly enjoy, as did David, true pleasure is found in God alone. Likewise, if we were driven into exile, what would we miss most? Would we long for our nice house, creature comforts, and possessions? Or would it be God’s presence that we missed most? Would we miss the house of God, being with God’s people, and being immersed in His Word?
Scriptures for Study: What does Psa_63:1 say concerning how David began His day? Compare that with the following: Psa_5:3; Psa_119:87; Psa_119:147-148; Pro_8:17.