A Meditation on Psalm 63:1
Consider King David’s intense longing for the presence of God: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you… your love is better than life… My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Ps. 63:1, 3, 8). How many of us have hearts that cry out, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)?
“How little this is found today!” James M. Boice observes. “Most people do not even know that it is God their souls truly desire. They are seeking satisfaction in other things. Others know God but do not cultivate his presence; they do not long after him. Is it not this above everything that explains the weakness of the contemporary church? Is it not this that makes us so hollow spiritually?” (James Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, p. 518). Penetrating questions, are they not?
A number of years ago I read these challenging and convicting words by A. W. Tozer in his classic book, The Pursuit of God: “In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct “interpretations” of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water… For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts” (p. 8, 10).
The Holy Spirit used Tozer’s words to pierce my heart, and I responded by committing myself to “following hard after God.” For whatever reason, I remember specifically deciding not to focus on con-quering sin in my life, but exclusively on pursuing God. Don’t misunderstand, there was sin that I needed to overcome, but I was just going to focus on one thing, namely the pursuit of God, for an in-definite period of time. It was what I sensed God calling me to do.
However, what eventually happened during this “period of pursuit” was the conquering of much sin. God taught me a valuable lesson on victory over sin that I later found in the Bible: “He (i.e., King Rehoboam) did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD” (2 Chron. 12:14). I didn’t see the principle as a young Christian, but now it’s obvious: to go hard after God is to simultaneously run fast from sin, since they are in opposite directions. When we neglect our delightful duty to draw near to God, we will find ourselves slowly, but surely, drifting toward compromise and sin.
If sin is gaining the upper hand in your life, I know this: you’re not seeking God with all your heart. It’s that simple. Many verses make the connection between our pursuit of God and our victory over sin. Psalm 119:2 says, “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” The two always go together. Don’t expect to conquer sin apart from an earnest pursuit of God. In other words, conquer sin by an earnest pursuit of God.
Psalm 119:10 gives the same principle: “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Can I be brutally honest with you? It is pointless to ask God for victory over the sin in our life, if we are not going to passionately pursue Him. The Psalmist could pray genuinely for God to keep him from straying, because he was seeking Him with all his heart.
When we find God, and we are promised that we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart (Deut. 4:29), we stop seeking satisfaction in other things, because God is enough. “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight” (Ibid., p. 19-20).
Let us learn Tozer’s “great spiritual discovery that to seek God does but brings it, rather, to the level of highest possible fulfillment” (Ibid., p.7).