Dehydrated: Psalm 63by Ed de la Cour on June 23, 2013
"DEHYDRATED" :: Psalm 63
by Ed de la Cour
Are you thirsty? Chances are very good that you are thirsty right now, even if you are unaware of your need for water. Science shows that most of us do not take in enough liquids on a daily basis; and, sad to say, soda and coffee do not count! When we do not ingest enough liquid, we become dehydrated. The amount of liquid leaving the body exceeds the amount coming in, and we begin to experience the first symptoms of dehydration: dry, sticky mouth, loss of energy, and sleepiness.
I imagine we all know what it is like to experience thirst. Lots of times when we are truly thirsty, we are unaware of just how badly we are in need of some water. If we continue to work or play and still fail to satisfy our thirst, we may begin to feel unduly fatigued or develop a headache. I have had to have blood drawn many times and from personal experience I know can tell you hard it is for the phlebotomist to tap a vein if I am not properly hydrated.
Several years ago, my brother and I drove into the desert north of Palm Springs, California. I had never been into the desert before and wanted to experience what the desert is like. Flying over desert land at 35,000 feet gives you an idea of how massive the desert areas are in the American southwest, but driving through it, or walking through it as the pioneers did in the nineteenth century, would give one a much more personal and up-close experience.
As Stan and I drove along, we came upon an oasis sitting in the middle of absolutely nothing. In that area, there were two or three of these oases within a short distance and one oasis was set apart as a park. You can visit an information center and walk through the oasis – on a boardwalk – and see green palm trees and lush vegetation growing and thriving right in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. The reason for the boardwalk is that you’d sink if you tried to get off the boardwalk and walk on your own. There’s that much water. The San Andreas Fault runs through the area and apparently allows water from deep inside the earth to bubble up to the surface. The water nourishes the many palm trees and other vegetation that call the oasis home.
When people find themselves hospitalized, and this is especially true of the elderly, one of their most common symptoms is dehydration. My mother was habitually dehydrated as she aged. For the rest of us, we are so busy we simply forget to drink water. That may sound silly, but I assure you, it’s true. Saying this is not an attempt to assign blame or guilt, but it is illustrative of a simple truth: all of us tend to be blind to the greatest needs we have as people.
On that basis I will say to you: you are spiritually dehydrated. The greatest need you and I have as people is to know and love the God who made us, to be nourished by His presence in our lives, to be fed at His table, and to be satisfied by Him. If we are lacking in any of those areas, we are thirsty and we are in danger of dehydration. Often, we think we are just fine, but we are wrong. If we are living in disobedience and trying to tell ourselves we are in a good place with God, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we say we are children of God and if we are stealing from work, gossiping about friends or neighbors, having sex outside of marriage, engaged in pornography, lusting after money, we are not at all fine. For those of us who are struggling, dehydration could well become fatal.
My desire today is for each of us to recognize that we are very thirsty people, to understand that we are very dehydrated, and to discover that the only solution for our problem is for us to drink deeply, to drink regularly, and to drink often from the well of living water.
Let’s now turn to Psalm 63.
As you can see from the superscription, apparently David was in the Desert of Judah when he composed this psalm. We are given to understand David knew from painful and personal experience what it was like to thirst. Because you may not believe me when I declare that you are a very thirsty in your spirit, let’s use this part of God’s Word to conduct a test of our inner life, of our spiritual heart, and see if I am correct.
Many of the psalms of David contain some statement, some declaration, in which David confesses that God is his Lord and that he lives to serve God with his life. This psalm begins, “O God, you are my God.” As we begin, it needs to be asked: is God your God? Is Jesus on the throne of your life as your Lord and King? Can you say these words from your heart, or is it just so much vocabulary? “O God, you are my God.”
David declares that he seeks God earnestly. Outside of church on Sundays, do you seek God earnestly? Do you seek God only when you have a problem? Do you seek God when you’re short of cash, or do you seek Him every day? A person is spiritually dehydrated when seeking God is a long ways from being a priority in his life. David sought the face of God and he looked for God’s involvement in his life with intensity. You can tell by the way he prays in the Psalms that he passionately and vigorously prayed for help. He prayed for guidance. He prayed direction and he prayed for deliverance from his enemies. And sometimes, he prayed simply to worship his God.
David was aware of his thirst – imagine that. At first, I skipped over these words, but as I considered the psalm, I realized David knew something about his own heart that I have often missed in mine. He knew he was thirsty for God. He didn’t confuse that thirst for a desire for other things, nor did he misplace his desire for the things of this life with his need for God. In 2 Samuel 23, King David expressed a longing, a human, physical thirst, for water from a particular well in Bethlehem, which at the time was occupied by a garrison of Philistine troops. Three of his men went into the town at the risk of losing their lives and got David a jug filled with that water. David did not confuse one kind of thirst for another. He recognized their sacrifice and he poured that water on the ground before the Lord as an act of worship. Imagine that!
Hiding from his enemies in the desert meant that physical thirst was simply a fact of life. David made the comparison and recognized that thirst for water and thirst for God were both deeply and keenly felt. He could not live without water, nor could he live without a vital relationship with God. There in the desert, David was not camped conveniently by a 7-11. Water was a valuable commodity, not easily found. David knew from personal experience that a moment with God was equally precious, that many people then – and now - live their entire lives never knowing their thirst fully satisfied. They may say they are doing great, but they haven’t a clue.
David knew there is a huge difference between his God, the God he was seeking after, and all the stand-in, substitute gods that are available out there. In times of worship David sensed God’s presence in the sanctuary. He heard the voice of God – imagine that! He felt the love of God. He received from God. Because his worship was not just pretty words and poetry, David regarded the love of God as vastly superior than anything this life could offer him. Only someone who knows what it is to thirst after God could make a statement like that. Only someone whose thirst is being daily satisfied by God can say that. For anyone else, it rings empty.
Nowadays, we have so much of everything and we are content with none of it. David offers us the promise of God. Listen: you and I can be satisfied by God. Filet mignon, whatever foods that are the very best, the richest, and the most costly – none of them are able to satisfy the way God satisfies. James Gandolfini had a meal consisting of the best and most gourmet food, just hours before he died. When he got up from the table, he may have been stuffed, but was he satisfied? We may be full, but that feeling passes, and then we want more. The presence of God is different. Does the presence of God satisfy you?
When you are spiritually dehydrated, your relationship with God appears to you to be OK, but the truth is far from that. Do you think about God when you’re in bed, like David? Do you pray, seeking His presence as you prepare to drop off to sleep? The person who is spiritually satisfied is one whose thirst for the things of God is quenched. He or she is not dehydrated, but is filled and satisfied.
When I am anxious, it means I am thirsty for God. The problems I face are not really mine to solve. God is the One who holds the key. God is the One who has the solution, and in God I need to trust. It’s hard to trust God when you’re thirsty and dehydrated.
David recognized God in his life, so when circumstances moved against him, he literally could sing from the place of protection he found “in the shadow of your wings.” Can you say today that you are at rest? Is your soul at peace? The soul that is disrupted by sin cannot be at rest. The thirsty soul has a prior need for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration that must be met before rest can come.
The psalm concludes on what you might initially think is an odd note, in verses 9 - 11. David moved from a tender and intimate moment of worship in the first eight verses, and then confidently declared that those people who sought to do him harm, who were looking to kill him, will be dealt with summarily by the God in whom David trusts. Do you have confidence in God today?
Is your confidence in God? We don’t need to hear the first answer that pops into our minds, the one we know our Sunday School teacher wants to hear. What we need to do is ask ourselves whether that Sunday School answer is still relevant in our lives, or have we wandered away? If we have wandered, it’s time to rectify the situation, and to do so exactly as David would do it.
I am struck by the intentionality David brings to his walk with God. None of what you see here represents the churchy religion that prevails today. Nowadays we may sing the songs and we can mouth the words, but when push comes to shove, when it comes to living life in this world as people who trust God, when it comes to standing on what we say we believe, we will often find ourselves as spiritually bankrupt as any man on the street.
It begs the question, why is that? Why are we quick to attend worship services but slow to practice what we preach and say we believe? Perhaps it is because we do not recognize our own thirst for God. Maybe it is because we are spiritually dehydrated. We live in a desert. Real food and real drink for nourishment are hard to find, but somehow we think we can do all right on our own.
May I suggest that we consider some of the reason we find life so hard is that we do not feed ourselves from the Bread of Life, which is Jesus; nor do we drink from the well of Living Water, which is Jesus. In that regard, David, who lived a thousand years before Jesus was born, is far ahead of us. It is time for us to become intentional in our walk with God. It is time for us to stop being spectators and begin to seek God on our own for our own lives and for our own relationship with Him. God has made a promise to you in Isaiah 58:11, where we see, “The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” That’s God’s promise to you. Come to Him to find water for your soul.
Maybe one day in the near future, you will come across this psalm and you’ll realize these words are reflective of your own love for God and not someone else’s. Let’s pray that day is sooner rather than later.
Edmund C. de la Cour, Jr.
298 Barlows Landing Road
Post Office Box 1080
Pocasset, MA 02559
Church Office: 508-563-3164
We are now on Facebook! Join us at: