Bible Readings: Psalm 63:1-3 & 36:7-9
O God, you are my God, and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
like a dry and waterless land, my soul is thirsty for you.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and glory.
Your lovingkindness is better than life itself, and so I will praise you.
How precious, O God, is your lovingkindness!
We find refuge under the shadow of your wings.
We feast on the abundant food you provide;
you let us drink from the river of your delights.
With you is the fountain life,
and in your light we see the light.
We’ve all seen pictures of marathon runners collapsing, exhausted and gasping at the end of a gruelling race. I have never been in that situation! The closest I have come would be after a sponsored swim to raise money for Brain Tumour Research, or at the end of climbing Ben Nevis in far from ideal conditions. I wonder, is there a time when you have felt totally exhausted, dry, parched, and unable to carry on?
Exhaustion can be emotional and spiritual, as well as physical, and this is probably the type of exhaustion King David, the author of today’s psalms, had been through as he describes his soul as thirsty for God. Many of us today are feeling a sense of emotional and spiritual exhaustion, and we might look back with a sense of loss at how life was before the pandemic, and forwards with uncertainty to the future.
As David reflects in these psalms he contrasts his current situation with times in the past when he has met with God in worship in the sanctuary, and in doing this he recalls God's lovingkindness and is able to turn to God again in praise.
The word ‘lovingkindness’ occurs many times in the more traditional translations of the psalms. I think it is a beautiful word, going beyond ‘love’, which can seem a bit abstract, to convey a sense of ‘love with compassion’, love that understands the grief.
Within the lovingkindness of God we find refuge under the shadow of his wings. Within the lovingkindness of God we find food to strengthen us. Within the lovingkindness of God we find water to refresh and delight us. Within the lovingkindness of God we find the light that will enable us to find our way.
Within the lovingkindness of God we are able to come to him again in praise.
Lord, your lovingkindness is better than life, and so I will praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.