Introduction: David was a man of many sorrows. But God used his many sorrows to help David to draw closer to Him. In Psalm 63, David lost everything and was forced to live as a refugee in the wilderness while his enemies tried to kill him. Despite having nothing, David found satisfaction and joy through his relationship with God. From David’s example God reveals seven lessons for finding satisfaction during a trial. These include: (1) desiring God, (2) dependence, (3) gratitude, (4) contentment, (5) meditation on God, (6) trust, and (7) worship.
First, at a time when he lost everything and was forced to live as a refugee, David desired most to quench his thirsty soul with God’s presence. During your trials, God also wants you to find true satisfaction with His presence. Second, at a time when he was alone and weakened, David depended upon God as his sanctuary and as his strength. During your trials, God also wants you to depend upon Him to strengthen you. Third, at a time when most might be tempted to complain about their circumstances, David expressed gratitude for God’s blessings in his life. During your trials, God also wants you to remember to be grateful for the blessings that He has faithfully provided in your life. Fourth, at a time when David had lost everything, David professed that he would be content with God’s provision. During your trials, God also wants you to be content with what He has given you. Fifth, during his trial, David found joy by meditating on God and knowing that God would protect him. During your trials, God also wants you to meditate on His promises and find peace in Him. Sixth, even when he could not protect himself, David stated that he had complete trust in God. During your trials, God also wants you to place your trust in Him for your deliverance. Finally, David kept his might off his dire circumstances by turning to God and worshiping Him. During your trials, God can also protect you from anxiety, depression, and despair if you keep your eyes focused on Him with grateful worship.
1. Desiring God: During a Trial, Find Satisfaction in God’s Presence. Ps. 63:1.
David thirsted for God’s presence when he was alone in the wilderness. When David’s enemies forced him to flee into the wilderness, his desire was to feel God’s presence: “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. 1 God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1). Although the exact time period for David’s trial is not stated, it most likely connects to 1 Samuel 22 when David fled from Saul: “But Gad the prophet said to David, ‘Do not stay in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.’ So David left and went into the forest of Hereth.” (1 Sam. 22:5).
The psalmist craved relief that only God’s living water could provide. Book One of the Psalms began with David’s similar declaration that God is the source of our spiritual wellbeing: “3 He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Ps. 1:3). Book two of the Psalms also began with the psalmist’s similar declaration as he cried out to God in complete desperation for the comfort that he knew that only God could provide: “For the music director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. 1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps. 42:1-3). “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:26). “My soul longed and even yearned for the courtyards of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Ps. 84:2). “My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word.” (Ps. 119:81). “I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, like a weary land. Selah” (Ps. 143:6). When you feel alone, inadequate or lacking, turn to God to find peace and quench the desires of your soul.
When you desire the things of God, He will fulfill your heart’s desires1
The psalmist regularly turned to God when his soul felt dry and empty in the world. When you are sad or in need, the Psalms encourage you to seek out a deeper relationship with God the way a thirsty person in the desert might crave a drink of cold water: “My soul longed and even yearned for the courtyards of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Ps. 84:2). “My soul is crushed with longing for Your ordinances at all times.” (Ps. 119:20). “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.” (Ps. 69:3). “I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I flood my couch with my tears.” (Ps. 6:6). If you are sad or discouraged, pour out your heart to God for comfort and fulfillment.
Jesus provided the living water to sustain the Jews in the wilderness. During their time in the wilderness, God sustained the Jews and kept them from dying of thirst. For example, God transformed the dirty waters of Marah to provide drinking water (Ex. 15:25-27). In addition, “[t]hey did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. He made the water flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock and the water gushed forth.” (Isa. 48:21; Nu. 20:2-12; Ps. 81:16; 106:41). Jesus was the Rock who gave the living water (1 Cor. 10:3-4). “Trust in the Lord forever, for we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isa. 26:4).
Jesus offers the living water that will quench your soul. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews celebrated that God gave them the water of life. The High Priest took a golden pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam and poured it into a basin at the altar of the Temple. The water then flowed back through a pipe to the Brook of Kidron (Talmud: Sukkah 4:9). This was done in conjunction with prayers for rain to sustain crops in the following year. In connection with this ceremony, the Talmud states: “Why is the name of it called the Drawing Out of Water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: ‘With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation’” (Is. 12:3). God offered living water to quench His people’s thirsty souls: “You there! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Is. 55:1). “And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Is. 58:11). This all foreshadowed Jesus. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, He offered: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (Jo. 7:37-39). “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.” (Jo. 4:14). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6). If you are in need, turn to Jesus.
Jesus also offers you comfort when you turn to Him. When you suffer, you can also turn to Jesus for His comfort: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (1 Cor. 1:3-4). He restores you when you feel sad: “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). “A Psalm of David. I will exalt You, LORD, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.” (Ps. 30:1). “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk. 21:28). When others around you are in pain, Jesus also wants you to share with them the same “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (1 Cor. 1:4). Are you showing the comfort that Jesus has shown you to those who are in need?
Jesus will also give wisdom when you seek Him in prayer. If you diligently seek Jesus’ will in prayer, He also promises to give you wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). If, like David, you feel all alone, re you seeking Jesus’ wisdom and His direction in all that you do?
2. Dependence: During a Trial, Depend Upon God to Strengthen You. Ps. 63:2.
David declared that he would find refuge in God’s great power. At a time when he was under attack, David knew that he could depend upon God to protect and strengthen him: “2 So have I seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and glory.” (Ps. 63:2). David made similar declarations in Psalm 62: “He alone is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken. . . . He alone is my rock and my salvation, My refuge; I will not be shaken.” (Ps. 62:2,6). When you are alone or under attack, God wants you to turn to Him and find a refuge in Him that cannot be shaken.
God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. David also praised God as his “shield” and his refuge: “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2). “He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Sam. 22:31). “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12). Solomon also called God his shield: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5). When God is your refuge, He will also be your shield.
In the face of death, David had faith in God to deliver him. Even while his trial was ongoing, David professed his faith in God’s faithfulness: “10 My God in His faithfulness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my enemies.” (Ps. 59:10). “And He gave up His strength to captivity and His glory into the hand of the enemy.” (Ps. 78:61). “Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). David had faith in God’s deliverance before he witnessed it. “The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” (Ps. 118:7). God also wants you to trust Him and depend upon Him to save you.
Have faith in God to deliver you. David had faith in God because He had been faithful to deliver him throughout his entire life. “And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37(a)). God also wants you to be assured that Jesus will deliver you as well. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18). The Bible is filled with countless examples to prove that God is faithful. If your faith is lacking, study His Word and keep a prayer journal with His answered prayers.
Have faith that God is stronger than any evil that you will ever face. God wants you to have faith that the Holy Spirit inside of you is greater than any spiritual adversary that you will ever face. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31; Ps. 118:6; Heb. 13:6). Samuel later encouraged David that Saul would never capture or harm him: “ Thus he said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.”’ (1 Sam. 23:17). Satan is as powerless in God’s presence as Saul was in his attempts to thwart God’s will and kill David. Do you also trust in God against all evil?
3. Gratitude: During a Trial, Be Grateful For God’s Blessings. Ps. 63:3-4.
In his time of gratitude, David expressed his gratitude for God’s blessings. Where many people would complain to God, David expressed his gratitude for God’s mercy and grace: “3 Because Your favor is better than life, my lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Ps. 63:3-4). Even in your darkest hour, you have reasons to give thanks. Instead of complaining in the face of trial, stop and give thanks for all the prior trials where God blessed you or delivered you.
Be thankful for Jesus’ love for you, and His mercy and grace in your life2
Be thankful in all things. Whenever God answered David, he gave thanks “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.” (Ps. 28:6). “But God has heard; He has given attention to the sound of my prayer.” (Ps. 66:19). “Lord, open my lips, so that my mouth may declare Your praise.” (Ps. 51:15). “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” (Ps. 104:33). “Let my lips pour out praise, for You teach me Your statutes.” (Ps. 119:171). “I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Ps. 146:2). When God answers your prayers, many psalms remind you to give Him the credit. If you fail to make a habit of thanking Him, you may take Him for granted. Even in times when he was jailed and persecuted, Paul worshiped God and gave thanks: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:20). Giving thanks can also remind you of His faithfulness.
4. Contentment: During a Trial, Be Content With God’s Provision. Ps. 63:5.
Even when he had nothing, David was content with what God had given him. At a time when he had lost everything as a fugitive, David was content with God’s provision: “5 My soul is satisfied as with fat and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” (Ps. 63:5). People often confuse their needs with their wants. If you focus just on what you need, you will realize that God is faithful to provide all that you need.
God will provide for your needs, not necessarily your wants. David praised God as his Good Shepherd, who would always provide for his needs: “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I will not be in need.” (Ps. 23:1). “Fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no lack of anything. The young lions do without and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD will not lack any good thing.” (Ps. 34:9-10). “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and He has filled the hungry soul with what is good.” (Ps. 107:9). Jesus will also provide for you: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19).
True gratitude requires contentment. David was grateful because he was willing to be content with whatever God gave him. Paul also revealed that Jesus will strengthen you when you are content: “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:12-13). Are you content with what God has given you in life? Or, are you ungrateful and constantly striving for something else?
5. Meditation on God: During a Trial, Meditate on God’s Promises. Ps. 63:6-8.
David found comfort by meditating on God’s goodness and His love for him. At a time when David could not protect himself, he found joy by meditating on God’s goodness. “6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, 7 for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand takes hold of me.” (Ps. 63:6-8). “Many of David’s psalms are simple cries for help. Since this psalm was composed from the Wilderness of Judah, there was certainly help David could ask for. Yet, Psalm 63 has no cry for help but gives thanks and praise for God’s faithfulness in many times when God had been my help for David.” (David Guzik on Ps. 63) (emphasis original).3
Meditate on God’s Word and His statutes for holy living. The Psalms are filled with exhortations for believers to mediate on God’s Word generally and His statutes in particular: “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. . . Your servant meditates on Your statutes. . . I shall meditate on Your precepts . . . My eyes anticipate the night watches, so that I may meditate on Your word.” (Ps. 119:15, 23, 78, 148). David memorized God’s Law and His Word to keep himself on the right path: “. . . Your Law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8; 1:2; 119:16; Jer. 15:16). “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). Joshua also urged the Jews to mediate on God’s Word day and night: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.” (Josh. 1:8). Moses gave the same commandment: “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul. . .” (Dt. 11:18). Moses also warned that any king needed to study God’s Law all the days of his life in order to learn to fear God: “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, so that he will learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully following all the words of this Law and these statutes,” (Dt. 17:19). Solomon also memorized the Law: “Bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.” (Prov. 6:21-22; 7:3). Jesus also memorized the Law and quoted it from memory throughout His entire life. The Law will keep your way pure (Ps. 37:31; 119:9). It will teach and admonish you (Col. 3:16). When you follow it, you will bear fruit in God like a tree planted by water (Ps. 1:1-3). Are you meditating on His Word generally and His statutes to live a holy life?
When you keep your heart focused on God, He will guard you from evil. David urged God to keep him under the protection of His wings: “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Ps. 17:8). “A Mikhtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave. Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.” (Ps. 57:1). “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and wall.” (Ps. 91:4). “May the LORD reward your work, and may your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:12). God also wants you to mediate on His promises and find peace in knowing that He will also protect you.
Seek refuge in God, and let Him protect you4
Let Jesus be your refuge in the wilderness. Jesus is called the chief shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), the good shepherd (Jo. 10:11), and the great shepherd (Heb. 13:20). It is in Him that we “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:18). “The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble;” (Ps. 9:9). “Each will be like a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land.” (Is. 32:2). Have you turned to Jesus as your refuge when everyone is set against you?
6. Trust: During a Trial, Place Your Trust in God for Deliverance. Ps. 63:9-10.
In the face of those who wanted to kill him, David trusted God to deliver him. Even though he had no ability to protect himself, David knew that he could place his trust in God: “9 But those who seek my life to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. 10 They will be turned over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes.” (Ps. 63:9-10). Many are tempted to look to themselves or others to find protection in the face of danger. But God wants you to place your full trust in Him for your deliverance.
Give your burdens to God when others attack you. On many occasions, David asked God to frustrate the plans of those who sought to harm him: “Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.” (Ps. 35:4). “May those be ashamed and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it; may those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt.” (Ps. 40:14). “May those who are enemies of my soul be put to shame and consumed; may they be covered with disgrace and dishonor, who seek to injure me.” (Ps. 71:13). If you are under attack, give your burdens to God, and let Him avenge any wrongs against you.
Let God deliver you from the evil. Even though David was Israel’s mightiest war hero, he did use his own might, his soldiers, or his allies to fight back against his attackers. God warns that you cannot trust in rulers or in government for your deliverance. He wants you to put your faith and trust in Him alone: “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Do you trust in God alone to deliver you?
7. Worship: During a Trial, Focused Your Eyes on God with Worship. Ps. 63:11
David responded to his dire circumstances with praise for God. Instead of dwelling on his own dire circumstances, David placed his focus on God and gladly worshiped Him: “11 But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will boast, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.” (Ps. 63:11). A serious trial can bring about feelings of anxiety or depression. But these feelings come from focusing on yourself and how powerless you feel in the face of a dire circumstance. When you keep your eyes of Jesus with worship, you give Him your burdens and anxieties.
Before knowing the outcome of his trial, David turned to God in praise and worship. Even while his trial was ongoing, David praised God with gratitude and worshiped Him: “But as for me, I will sing of Your strength; yes, I will joyfully sing of Your faithfulness in the morning, for You have been my refuge and a place of refuge on the day of my distress. My strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my refuge, the God who shows me favor.” (Ps. 59:16-17). From this point until Saul’s death, David would be forced to live as a fugitive from both Israel’s army and the Philistines. But even in his darkest hours, David found peace by taking his eyes off himself and praising God. “For the music director. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said, ‘I love You, LORD, my strength.”’ (Ps. 18:1). Even in your darkest hour, you can find His peace by giving Him praise.
Rejoice and worship God because He is faithful to avenge any wrongs against you. From beginning to end, the Bible reminds believers to turn to God in the face of any trial and find joy by worshiping God for His goodness: “Rejoice, you nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will return vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.” (Dt. 32:43). “and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10). “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” (Ps. 32:11). “Sing for joy in the LORD, you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.” (Ps. 33:1). “The righteous will rejoice when he sees vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Ps. 58:10). “The upright see it and are glad; but all injustice shuts its mouth.” (Ps. 107:42). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). “Rejoice always,” (1 Thess. 5:16). The next time you feel depressed or anxious, turn to God and worship Him.
Praise God for using your trials to build perseverance and draw you closer to Him. God allowed David to suffer through many trials so that he would have a deeper faith. Your trials should also produce perseverance and build up your faith: “And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). Paul was persecuted and thrown in jail. But he encouraged believers that faith should include “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Ro. 12:12). “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you praising God for using your trials to build up your faith in Him?
Praise God because He loves you and will never give you a trial that you cannot endure. One commentator best describes the central message of Psalm 63 as finding satisfaction through God’s love: “Meditation on the love of God brings satisfaction to our spiritual longings and assurance of our future joy . . . one passage that fits the circumstances and the meditation of the psalm rather well is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 in which Paul describes what is important to his perseverance in the faith, the ‘eternal weight of glory.’ After enumerating all the sufferings and deprivations he had to endure in his life, he explains that even though outwardly the body may be perishing, the spirit is being renewed daily. For all believers, that spiritual renewal comes as they look not to things that are seen but things that are unseen and eternal. (Allen Ross, A Commentary of the Psalms: Volume 2 (42-89), Kregel Academic (2013) p. 395-6) (italics original). Jesus loved you enough to die for you (Jo. 3:16). He will certainly not abandon you during your trials.