How do we learn to worship God?
David shows us the way.
My soul thirsts for you (v. 1)
My soul faints for you,
I have looked for you in the sanctuary (v. 2)
So David, in the wilderness of Judah hunted God with his soul and with passion, and here in this psalm he tells us how. All hunts have to begin somewhere. David began with
looking for God in the Sanctuary (vs. 1-3).
Why the Sanctuary? And remember, the first Temple has not yet been built. The Sanctuary was a tent—simple man-made structure. During most of the time between the Exodus and the beginning of Saul’s reign the Ark of the Covenant had resided at Shiloh, north of Jerusalem. Then it was captured by the Philistines and remained in their camp for seven months (1 Samuel 6:1). Eventually, it resided in Kiriath-Jearim, (1 Samuel 7:1) a town close to the Philistine border until David brought it into Jerusalm in his reign (2 Samuel 6).
So for the entire period of David’s wandering in the wilderness, going to the “Sanctuary” was no small trip. But when you are thirsty for God, when you are panting for God, when you are looking hard for God, distance and hardship are not barriers. David surrounded himself with the evidences of God’s presence in the history of Israel. He went to see the Ark of the Covenant. He went to see the place where sacrifices were made. He went to the place where Levites maintained and performed the sacred rituals given by God to Moses. He went to the place where sight, and sound, even smells, and activities all combined to remind him of the presence of God.
Where do you go, what do you do when your heart pants for God?
But he didn’t stop with going to the right place. He got physical with his worship.
My lips will praise you (vs. 3)
I will lift up my hands (vs. 4)
My mouth will praise you (vs. 5)
I will sing for joy (vs. 7)
The movements of worship are not just matters of internal thoughts and devotions. Indeed, the word worship itself originally meant to prostrate oneself, to bow down flat. His whole being is involved in his hunt for God. His mouth opens (vs. 3), words cascade over his lips, his hands lift up to the sky (vs. 4), and if you had been there, you would have heard him singing (vs. 7).
How physical do you allow yourself to get in your pursuit of God?
And there is more.
He directs his heart down particular paths of memory and joy. And these dual paths are interwoven like a doubled-stranded rope. In the “memory” strand are the phrases “I will remember You” and “I will meditate on You” (vs. 6). Having a memory of what God has done is a great tool to drive our souls to Him. Jesus told the church at Ephesus, . . .
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
Revelation 2:4-5, ESV
I will remember you (vs. 6)
I will meditate on You
Jesus’s command to a church that had lost its first love was to “remember.” He wanted them to think about “the love they had at first,” their first love. That process of remembering and thinking is what meditation is all about. And it was what David was all about in his thirsty-panting-searching for God. David traveled the path of memory to open his heart to the mystery of worship.
But he also traveled the path of joy.
I will bless you (vs. 4)
My soul will be satisfied (v. 5)
My soul clings to you (v. 8)
I will rejoice in God (vs. 11)
He clung to God; he satisfied himself in God; and he rejoiced in God. And that’s how you bless the living God. Satisfy yourself in Him.
Like a Man on a Scaffold
Like a man on a scaffold
Ten floors above a concrete floor
Stumbling, fearing the fall
Grasping to avoid a desperate plummet,
Like that man,
Make me like that man.
Make me cling to You
With all my heart, soul, and strength.
Make me a man who is satisfied in You.
Make me a man who is satisfied with You.
Go to Psalm 64