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Young At Heart Bible Study: The Book of Psalms Psalm 63

Psalm 63: Better Than Life

We know little about this Psalm except that it comes from a time when David was on the

run in the wilderness of Judah. This area was on the eastern part of Judah, near the

Dead Sea, and David had probably spent much time in the caves there. The fact that he

is referred to as the king within the psalm leads us to think that this was written during

Absalom’s rebellion. This Psalm has been a devotional favorite because of its beautiful

poetry, and it gives wonderful glimpse into the devotional life of David himself.

(1) <A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.> O God,

you are my God; early will I seek you. My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs

for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water is; (2) to see your

power and your glory, so I have seen you in the sanctuary.

• This is a song of a worshipper relying upon his God and longing to be returned to

the place of God’s glory.

• In Hebrew David said, “O Elohim you are my El,” the idea being that he was

looking to God as El – a personal God, and the God who shows His strength. In

other words, David would appeal to God not just as the Creator but as the One

who cared for him and was mighty to save.

• David would seek God early – always the best practice, and of course one

followed by Christ Himself, who would get up a great while before dawn to seek

God. (See, for example, Mark 1:35)


Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

• David’s entire being thirsted for God’s presence, much a person in the desert

would thirst for water. He longed to be in God’s Presence with all His saints! In

worship, he had seen the glory of God revealed.

(3) Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you.

(4) Thus will I 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 upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the night watches.

• David feels that the experience of knowing God’s mercies (his chesed) is better

than life. Here is a picture of praise which is active and expressive. While our

worship is a matter of the heart, it necessarily involves the whole man. He would

praise God with his lips, meaning outwardly as well as inwardly, and would raise

his hands in that ancient posture of worship.

• While our culture seeks to avoid “fatness,” David’s culture used fat or grease as a

picture of prosperity – even prosperity of the soul!

• His praise would begin in the morning and he would also close out the night with

worship and meditation on the Lord – with joyful lips!

• David highly prized biblical meditation and viewed it as a wonderful way to close

his day. He would meditate on the Word of the Lord.

• Meditating on the Word was one of the “secrets of success” for David and many

other heroes of the faith. It was a spiritual and mental discipline that was highly

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Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

prized – and had actually been commanded by God. Let’s look at some Scriptures

in the Psalms and elsewhere that deal with the topic:

o (Genesis 24:63) And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at evening…

o (Joshua 1:8) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but

thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do

according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way

prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

o (Psalm 1:2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth

he meditate day and night.

o (Psalm 19:14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,

be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

o (Psalm 63:6) When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee

in the night watches.

o (Psalm 104:34) My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the

LORD.

o (Psalm 119:15) I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy

ways.

o (Psalm 119:23) Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant

did meditate in thy statutes.

o (Psalm 119:48) My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments,

which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

o (Psalm 119:78) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with

me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

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Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

o (Psalm 119:148) Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might

meditate in thy word.

o (Psalm 119:97) MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

o (Psalm 119:99) I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy

testimonies are my meditation.

• Meditation in the modern world means something mental, or altering your

mental state. For some it may mean clearing or emptying their mind as a form of

relaxation. New Agers and occultists may think of it as constantly repeating a

sound or gazing at an idol over and over. Not so in the Bible. In the Bible this is

an active word. In Hebrew the word used in Joshua 1:8 is hagah, and it means to

murmur or to mutter, and to ponder.

• Reading and meditation in the ancient world were verbal, not silent. Even in

libraries it is said people read out loud. So it is with biblical meditation. Look at

this text: God says the book of the law shall not depart from his mouth. This

clearly states that he should be contemplating it out loud.

• What is meditating in the Word, then? We meditate in the Word when we “chew

on” (mutter, speak to ourselves, ponder) a specific portion of it, letting the Holy

Spirit minister the life of God from that passage into our very being.

• This is more than a daily reading plan or memorizing verses, this is meeting God

in the text at a deep level and having him feed your soul. Some principles:

o Invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word to you. Without Him your

meditation will be fruitless.

o Read the Word aloud.

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Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

o Chew it thoroughly, getting nourishment from each thought or word in the

passage. It may be profitable to break it down word by word where the

text will allow you to do so. Repeat to yourself those passages which seem

to be significant, or which the Holy Spirit seems to be highlighting to you,

or which seem to speak to you in some way.

o Avoid being distracted by curiosity while you are meditating in the Word.

(Distraction is a powerful enemy of our prayer and meditation!) The point

of meditating in the Word is to encounter the Lord in His Word, not to

acquire knowledge per se. Use a notebook to jot down things you do not

understand or things you are interested in figuring out and research them

afterwards. You will probably find that you understand more when you do

this, because you will know more about the context of the passage once

you have been meditating on it. What you learn about names and details

will then truly add to your delights as you see deeper meanings and see

God at work in the story!

o Here is one method of meditating in the Word. I do not say it is the only

way to do so but you may find it useful. Let’s call this: Read, Ponder, and

Review. Suppose we are reading good old Psalm 27. We begin by

eliminating distractions and we ask the Spirit of God to give us light. Now,

we read through Psalm 27 one time, at your normal pace. If you have good

powers of concentration you can do this silently, but reading out loud may

be better even at this stage. Now comes the pondering or “chewing” part.

Read the entire Psalm slowly to yourself out loud. Significant verses

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Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

should be read over again, extracting meaning from each word where

possible. If the Lord spotlights something to you, linger there longer.

• David remembered God in the night watches. In the ancient world, the night was

divided into four watches of equal length, three hours each. If you were a soldier,

you wanted the first watch: 6 PM to 9 PM. You did not want the fourth watch of

the night, which was 3 AM to 6 AM! This was another powerful spiritual practice.

(7) Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings

will I rejoice. (8) My soul follows hard after you; your right hand upholds

me.

• Another reference to trusting in God, using the image of a bird. He has

experienced the help of God coming to him in the past and therefore can have

confidence in the future.

• His soul follows close behind (hard after) God and he has the sense of being in

the palm of God’s hand.

(9) But those who seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of

the earth. (10) They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for foxes.

(11) But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by him shall

glory, but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

• David says quite plainly that those who seek to kill him will themselves be killed.

Graphically, he says the foxes (better translated jackals) will eat their bodies.

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Psalms Bible Study Psalm 63

• David would rejoice and those who swear by God (or perhaps who swear

allegiance to David would also rejoice or boast.