I’ve been to Palm Springs, west Texas and east Africa, and these places are the closest I’ve been to the desert (though I have looked out from an airplane over the Sahara Desert and seen the endless miles of brown sand). These provide me with the best visual picture of the desolation and cruelty one would have to endure in its midst.
Psalm 63 is a psalm of David, and the uninspired inscription over it indicates he wrote it while in “the wilderness of Judah.” David ran there more than once, pursued by Saul. Near the time of Christ, the Essenes and revolters against Rome hid there, and after the corruption of the New Testament church monasteries were established there (Negev 206). Negev describes, from archaeological discovery, this wilderness. “The eastern slopes of the Judean Hills, which fall steeply toward the Dead Sea, are almost devoid of vegetation. The meager rainfall and porous rock of which the hills are composed produce a rugged landscape, and the descent of some 3000 feet over a distance of less than 15 miles form deep gorges with precipitous waterfalls, dry for all but a few days in the year. The steep banks of the gorges contain numerous caves that are difficult to reach and therefore ideal hiding places. Springs are few and small and the only oasis in the whole region is at En-Gedi, where a copious spring fosters lush vegetation” (ibid.).
With that setting in your mind, imagine David, moved by the Holy Spirit, writing the 63rd Psalm. The odds were against his writing on a rainy day, though we do not know. In the dry and thirsty land of persecution, opposition, fear and doubt, David had God. Because he did, David’s love and gratitude overflowed in a fountain of praise and worship to his God.
- He expresses relationship–“You are my God” (1)
- He expects relief–“My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You…My soul shall be satisfied” (1,5)
- He experiences refreshment–“Your lovingkindness is better than life” (3)
- He excitedly rejoices–“My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips…I will rejoice” (5,7).
- He exerts responsively–“I will bless You, lift up my hands, praise You, remember You, meditate on You, My soul follows close behind you” (3-8).
God was David’s ever-present oasis, no matter how dreary the setting of life around him was (9-10). He was confident in God’s love and care and strengthened by that to fight life’s battles.
God’s oasis is still flowing in our dry and thirsty land. His power and glory continue the same today. Look for Him where He is found, among God’s people as well as in the Book that bears His authorship and the sanctuary of prayer where He always awaits you. He is more than able to quench your spiritual thirst and shelter you in His care.