‟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.” (v.1)
In the first line, ‟O God, You are my God,” this states possession, a close relationship. The Lord is his God and it puts everything else in the correct light. This is not the Muslim God that can’t be known but only feared. This is the Father God who can be known in a close, personal relationship. The next two lines show the natural response of this closeness when the psalmist is in trouble. Notice the verbs used, they are action verbs, thirst, longs for. It is a turning to His Lord in severe trial. How severe is the trial?
He is in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. To be in a dry and thirsty land without water is to be in a position of great need without the means to remedy it. He lacks what he needs most to sustain him – life-giving water. With this great need, he does what anyone should do, run to the source.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory (v.2a)
He ran to the sanctuary where He expected to find God. Where do we expect to find God’s presence? In His Word. In His church. These are watering holes that have deep wells that never dry up. The thirsty can come where they can drink and be quenched. It is always important to go back to the source of living waters when you are in need. His well never dries up. In His Word, we find verses about who He is, and His promises, and we get comfort there and strength to go on. In the church we hear His Word preached and we get comfort and encouragement from the saints. There is something very filling about being surrounded by God’s people, all singing together and lifting up praises to God. It is a way of lifting you up above your troubles. But that is not all.
When the psalmist goes to the sanctuary, there is an expectation of seeing God’s power and glory. Sometimes that is all you need, just to be in His presence and see his power and glory even though you don’t understand what He is doing. The grandness of God makes our trials smaller even though we may not get direct answers to our questions of ‘why’. We just know that it will be alright.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name. (v. 3, 4)
Here is a ’cause and effect’. All this is because of God’s lovingkindness, which the psalmist recognizes as being better than life. It really is. To love Him, and enjoy Him is better than life. To experience that love even in the midst of severe trial is better than to not have experienced it at all and to have lived a life of ease. This means we gladly follow where He leads, even into the darkest valley because His lovingkindness will be there. Part of dealing with your trial is learning how to see His goodness and lovingkindness in the direst of circumstances. It is there, you just have to learn to recognize it and see it in a different light. As you walk with Him, He will give you eyes to see.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. (v. 5-7)
Notice the position of the psalmist when in trouble. He is under the protective covering of God’s wings. It is safe there, and warm. He can rejoice in this setting.
My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. (v. 8)
Note the position he is in now, one of following close behind. That means God is in front, taking the brunt of the winds and storm. Oftentimes we view ourselves as being out in front with God being at a distance commenting on our position with concern: ‟Oh dear, I hope you can get out of that one.” But part of easing your burden is to view yourself correctly in the trial. You are behind and God is in front taking the full weight of the storm. All that we do is follow close behind and take orders. He does the work. The burden rests on Him. This is why God’s burden on us is light. This means you put all your concerns on His shoulders and let Him carry them. It helps when you are feeling overwhelmed to write down all that burdens you, even down to the smallest detail. Then take another piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write ‘my burden’ and on the other side ‘God’s burden’. Then go back over each one and put them on the side that they belong. For example, ‘I can’t do my work as well being this fatigued’. Whose burden is that? If God gave you the fatigue and it is not laziness, then the burden of what you can get done rests on Him. You don’t beat yourself up about it. You give it to Him and ask for wisdom on how to function and how to please Him. Then you just follow His lead knowing He is pleased with you. That is grace in action. What you actually get done is on His shoulders. You just need a willing heart to yield all and follow. Part of what makes a hard trial extra hard is all the excess burdens we are carrying on our shoulders that belong to God alone. His burden really is light.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
That is what you are doing. When you go to the watering hole, you are learning from Him. It is a two-way relationship and not a to-do check list. This is where you get help. This is where you get filled. This is where you get loved and put right again. It goes beyond jumping through the right hoops. It is running to your Father and being filled. This is why trials are hard because we don’t have the same capacity to ‘work’ to please Him. But what is really pleasing Him? Resting in Him, loving Him, and enjoying Him forever. And out of our extreme gratitude for all He has done, we do the work He gives us to do and He will bless even the little that we have to offer. It is a relationship, not a check list. One is operating under grace, the other under law.
To end, here is our God:
Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment. (Psalm 66:9-12)
Yes, God may lead us through hard times but the end is glorious!