Psalm 63 - David In The Wilderness

INTRODUCTION: This Psalm can be more appreciated when some background about David's time in the wilderness is reviewed. He went from Keilah to Ziph, and then had to leave Ziph to escape armed conflict with King Saul. He moved about in various parts of the wilderness of Judah with his men for many months with a variety of events recorded during that time. David had two opportunities to kill Saul who wanted David dead, but he demonstrated his faith in Jehovah by not using those opportunities. The second time was after the men of Ziph had again given Saul the location of David. Both times that Saul heard how David had spared his life, he voiced his repentance, but David could not believe in his heart that Saul had truly changed. So David took his 600 men and all their families to the territory of the Philistines and he was given the town of Ziklag by the king of Gath, and Saul pursued him no more.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - BRIEF CHAPTER SEGMENTS FROM 1 SAMUEL AS BACKGROUND

1 Samuel 24 "1 And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. 3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold, the day of which Jehovah said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thy hand, and thou shalt do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt." ... "18 And thou hast declared this day how that thou hast dealt well with me, forasmuch as when Jehovah had delivered me up into thy hand, thou killedst me not. 19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? Wherefore Jehovah reward thee good for that which thou hast done unto me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thy hand. 21 Swear now therefore unto me by Jehovah, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house. 22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the stronghold."

1 Samuel 25 "1 And Samuel died; and all Israel gathered themselves together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb." ... "9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. 10 And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there are many servants now-a-days that break away every man from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men of whom I know not whence they are?" ... "18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched grain, and a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. 19 And she said unto her young men, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal." ... "24 And she fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me be the iniquity; and let thy handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine ears, and hear thou the words of thy handmaid. 25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this worthless fellow, even Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thy handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. 26 Now therefore, my lord, as Jehovah liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing Jehovah hath withholden thee from bloodguiltiness, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now therefore let thine enemies, and them that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal. 27 And now this present which thy servant hath brought unto my lord, let it be given unto the young men that follow my lord. 28 Forgive, I pray thee, the trespass of thy handmaid: for Jehovah will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fighteth the battles of Jehovah; and evil shall not be found in thee all thy days." ... "35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought him: and he said unto her, Go up in peace to thy house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person." ... "37 And it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, that his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that Jehovah smote Nabal, so that he died." ... "42 And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that followed her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. 43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they became both of them his wives. 44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim."

1Samuel 26 "1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert? 2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 And Saul encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. 4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come of a certainty." ... "9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not; for who can put forth his hand against Jehovah's anointed, and be guiltless? 10 And David said, As Jehovah liveth, Jehovah will smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle and perish. 11 Jehovah forbid that I should put forth my hand against Jehovah's anointed: but now take, I pray thee, the spear that is at his head, and the cruse of water, and let us go. 12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's head; and they gat them away: and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither did any awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from Jehovah was fallen upon them." ... "20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of Jehovah: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains. 21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm, because my life was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. 22 And David answered and said, Behold the spear, O king! let then one of the young men come over and fetch it. 23 And Jehovah will render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; forasmuch as Jehovah delivered thee into my hand to-day, and I would not put forth my hand against Jehovah's anointed. 24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of Jehovah, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. 25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do mightily, and shalt surely prevail. So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place."

1 Samuel 27 "1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me any more in all the borders of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. 2 And David arose, and passed over, he and the six hundred men that were with him, unto Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife. 4 And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him. 5 And David said unto Achish, If now I have found favor in thine eyes, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? 6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day."

COMMENTS: In chapter 24 David had an opportunity when Saul was alone in a cave, but after he cut off a piece of Saul's robe he was stricken in his conscience about taking even the slightest action against the anointed king of Israel. Saul seemed impressed when he found out that David did not take an opportunity to kill him. Later events showed that Saul had not truly change his attitude against David despite what he said before they parted.

In chapter 25 over an unspecified period of time David's men provided protection for the livestock and herdsmen of a wealthy man named Nabal. When Nabal flippantly showed complete disregard of any reward for the protection, David was angry and prepared to kill Nabal and all of his men. Nabal's wife Abigail wisely prepared a very gracious material payment which she took to David, and she spoke of the way that Jehovah would deal with David's enemies and thus keep him from avenging himself. Jehovah caused Nabal to die and then David sent for Abigail and she became his wife. Without any details of where or when the next events happened, the text indicates that "David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they became both of them his wives." The text also discloses "Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim."

In chapter 26 David had a second opportunity to kill King Saul, but his words in verses 9-12 express his strong commitment to Jehovah. "9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not; for who can put forth his hand against Jehovah's anointed, and be guiltless? 10 And David said, As Jehovah liveth, Jehovah will smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle and perish. 11 Jehovah forbid that I should put forth my hand against Jehovah's anointed: but now take, I pray thee, the spear that is at his head, and the cruse of water, and let us go." After David was a good distance away he shouted to arouse the sleepers in Saul's camp to show the proof that hey had been in their midst. David's final words to Saul were to say that as he had showed respect for Saul's life, David was trusting Jehovah to keep a watch over his own life to deliver him out of all tribulation. "Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do mightily, and shalt surely prevail. So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place."

As chapter 27 opens David was convinced that Saul would not give up trying to destroy him, and that is why he had said to Saul that Jehovah was his protection. David took all of his men and their possessions to the Philistine king at Gath because he had prior contact with that man. When Saul learned that David was with the Philistines he gave up all pursuit. David made a request, and King Achish of Gath gave the town of Ziklag to David and his company. David then was satisfied as he had told Abashai: Saul would die by Jehovah striking him, or by his day to come, or that he would die in battle.

B - DAVID LONGED FOR PEACEFUL COMMUNION WITH GOD IN ISRAEL

Psalm 63 "1 [A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.] O God, thou art my God; earnestly will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and weary land, where no water is. 2 So have I looked upon thee in the sanctuary, To see thy power and thy glory."

COMMENTS: As David spoke to God through this psalm, he expressed his personal relationship when he said "you are my God." David said he would earnestly seek God, and this showed his determination to maintain his trust as he continually had to change his location because of the threat from Saul's pursuit. In the inner being of his soul he had a spiritual thirst, and even bodily he desired to be near to the environs that helped him feel the presence of God. Peaceful enjoyment of the representations of God's power and glory is pleasant to both the soul and the body. As water is a necessity every day for the body, so the living water from God is refreshing to the soul. David remembered what it had been like to be near the tabernacle and how it helped him to see the power and glory of God, but his present condition made him feel much like he was in a land almost barren of any water to drink.

When the children of Israel left Egypt and doubted God as they needed water in the wilderness, God gave them what they needed in a miraculous way so they would be thankful and give him praise for he was always with them. Exodus 17 "5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us, or not?" Long after David's lifetime, a metaphor using water described how Israel had abandoned worship of the LORD. Jeremiah 2 "13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." While Jesus was at a well, he spoke of the water that he could give that would provide eternal life. John 4 "13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life." There is nothing to compare to the water of life provided by God to those who believe in him.

C - THE LOVINGKINDNESS OF GOD IS BETTER THAN LIFE

Psalm 63 "3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. 4 So will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; 6 When I remember thee upon my bed, [And] meditate on thee in the night-watches."

COMMENTS: David offered praise to God for his lovingkindness because he knew that his faith in God was more valuable than life itself. Despite the fact that he was a fugitive from the king of Israel who wanted him dead, he was going to continue blessing Jehovah with uplifted hands in open praise to his name. God's lovingkindness was just as satisfying to his soul as excellent health could be to his body. When he reclined upon his bed joyful praise to Jehovah would be on his lips, and he would ponder and contemplate about him through the long hours of the night.

Some portions of New Testament letters give us the same message about thinking more about things to come in heaven than any difficulties or disappointments we might experience in this life. Therefore we should be offering praise to our Savior for his lovingkindness. Colossians 3 "1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, [who is] our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory." Hebrews 13 "14 For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after [the city] which is to come. 15 Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name."

D - THOSE WHO TRUSTS IN GOD SHALL REJOICE

Psalm 63 "7 For thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. 8 My soul followeth hard after thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me. 9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. 10 They shall be given over to the power of the sword: They shall be a portion for foxes. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God: Every one that sweareth by him shall glory; For the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped."

COMMENTS: David had been anointed by Samuel to be king as directed by Jehovah, but Samuel died while David was in the wilderness. David had been a fugitive for many months because King Saul wanted him to be killed. Through all the dangerous trials David believed that Jehovah had been his protection and he rejoiced knowing there was no safer place than to be in God's care. David was willing to fully commit his soul to earnestly follow after Jehovah who held him in his right hand. Jesus gives the believer today the same assurance that David had in the dark times of his life. John 10 "28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who hath given [them] unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of the Father's hand."

Saul and many others in Israel believed that David was to become king, but David was willing to wait until whenever the time was right as appointed by Jehovah. he was just as confident that the ones who were so determined to kill him would meet their end and go down to the grave. Some would fall by the sword and become food for foxes. Jehovah had given David another assurance through the intervention and well spoken words of Abigail as she brought the payment that Nabal had withheld. 1 Samuel 25 "29 And though men be risen up to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul, yet the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with Jehovah thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as from the hollow of a sling. 30 And it shall come to pass, when Jehovah shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee prince over Israel, 31 that this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood without cause, or that my lord hath avenged himself. And when Jehovah shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thy handmaid. 32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet me: 33 and blessed be thy discretion, and blessed be thou, that hast kept me this day from bloodguiltiness, and from avenging myself with mine own hand." Nabal died and Abigail was remembered by David as he sent for her and she became his wife even before David became king. David believed what Abigail had reminded him: that Jehovah would bring to pass all the good that he had spoken concerning David. So David could say that as king, he would rejoice in God and everyone who swears by the name of God will praise Jehovah while the mouths of liars will be stopped.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Jehovah, you are my God and I will seek you through your Word as your Spirit gives me refreshment from the lack of satisfaction found in the offerings of the world apart from you. Your lovingkindness is better than life so I will give you praise by my lips and in what I write about the scripture. I want to bless you while I live so I ask that you give to me the kind of heart that David had for you as he had great satisfaction in every part of his being to meditate through the night on the joy that comes from your love. As I review many periods of my life I am aware that you were watching over me and providing things that I could not have experienced without you. Some of those times involved protection from harm for me or someone very close to me accompanied with peace of mind. Other times you met a need with a supply that was abundantly more than expected. Even though there have been some difficulties in the past, and likely will be others in the future, I rest in the promise of eternal life which you have secured for me in Christ. Amen.

Published 20 May 2015