God and the Soul
Psalm 63:1-11
O God, you are my God; early will I seek you: my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land…

The text might form a motto for what is termed, in the modern phrase, "personal religion." No religion, of course, can deserve its name if it be not personal at bottom, if it do not recognize as its basis the case of the personal soul face to face with the personal God. But, even with a view to the perfection of the individual himself, religion may, nay, it must, embrace other interests besides his own. Each time that, in the earliest creed, we formally profess our belief in God, we also profess our belief in the Catholic Church and the Communion of Saints. But at least in David we have a notable example of a sensitive, tender, self-analyzing soul, living in sustained communion with God, while yet deeply sensible of the claims of the civil and religious polity of Israel. "My God." The word does not represent a human impression, or desire, or conceit, but an aspect, a truth, a necessity of the Divine Nature. Man can, indeed, give himself by halves; he can bestow a little of his thought, of his heart, of his endeavour, upon his brother man. In other words, man can be imperfect in his acts, as he is imperfect and finite in his nature. But when God, the Perfect Being, loves the creature of His Hand, He cannot thus divide His love. He must give Himself to the single soul with as absolute a completeness as if there were no other being besides the soul which He loves. And, on his side, man knows that this gift of Himself by God is thus entire; and in no narrow spirit of ambitious egotism, but as grasping and representing the literal fact, he cries, "My God." Therefore does this single word enter so largely into the composition of Hebrew names. Men loved to dwell upon that wondrous relation of She Creator to their personal life which it so vividly expressed. Therefore we find St. Paul writing to the Galatians as if his own soul, in its solitary anguish, had alone been redeemed by the sacrifice of Calvary: "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." But hero let us observe that there are two causes within the soul which might indispose us for looking more truly and closely at the truth before us. Of these causes, the first is moral: it is the state of unrepented wilful sin. It is hostile to the assertion no less of the love than of the rights of God. It is averse from Him. It has other ends in view which are so many denials of His supreme claims upon created life. It cowers with involuntary dread at the sound of His voice among the trees of the garden. If the depraved and sinful will, still clinging to its sin, could conceivably attain to a spiritual embrace of the All-Holy God, so intimate, so endearing as is that of the psalmist, such nearness would be to it nothing less than repulsive; it would be scarcely less than an agony. The other cause is intellectual. It may, without offence, be described as the subjective spirit, which is so characteristic and predominant an influence in the thought of our day. In plain English this spirit is an intellectual selfishness, which makes man, and not God, the monarch and centre of the world of thought. Man is again to be, as of old with the Greek sophist, the measure of all things. God is as but a point on the extreme circumference of His creature's thought. Nay, more, in its more developed form, this temper makes God Himself a pure creation of the thought of His creature; and, by doing so, it at length denies His real existence. An educated man of the present day who would look God really in the face has perhaps no greater intellectual difficulty to contend with than the trammels and false points of view which strictly subjective habits of thought have imposed upon his understanding. While these habits are dominant in a man, God may be a portion, nay, the most considerable portion, of his thought; but God will not be in any true sense the man's God, before whom his soul bows, Among the many truths which the Supreme Being has disclosed to us men about Himself, there are two which, beyond others, are peculiarly calculated to enable us to realize our real relation towards Him. The first, the truth that God is our Creator. The second, the truth that He has made us for Himself, and is Himself the end and the explanation of our existence. The most simple and obvious truths are, as a rule, the most profound; and no apology is needed for asking each one of you to reflect steadily on the answer to this question, Where was I one short century ago? The lowest and vilest creatures were more than we; in that to them a being had been given, while as yet we were without one. Rut at this moment we are in possession of that blessed and awful gift which we name "life." We find ourselves endowed with an understanding capable of knowledge, and with a heart formed for love. We cannot but ask how we came to be here, and we cannot worship God unless we believe that it was He who made us. Yet, though we witness around us the wreck of serious convictions, and the despair of true and noble hearts, and the triumph of false theories, and the additional difficulties of our daily struggle with unseen foes, and (it may be) with the results of our own past unfaithfulness .to light and grace, we have but to look within ourselves to trace without doubt or misgiving the true law of that life which our God has given us. By gathering up the scattered fragments of the shattered statue, we can recover, if not the perfect work itself, at least the ideal which was before the Eye of the Artist. In this place we are sufficiently familiar with the presumption that there must be a correspondence and proportion between a faculty and its object. Why, then, does the human intellect crave perpetually for new fields of knowledge? It was made to apprehend an Infinite Being; it was made for God. Why does the human heart disclose, when we probe it, such inexhaustible capacities for love, and tenderness, and self-sacrifice? It was made to correspond to a love that had neither stint nor limit; it was made for God. Why does no employment, no success, no scene or field of thought, no culture of power or faculty, no love of friend or relative, arrest definitely and for all time the onward, craving, restless impulse of our inner being? No other explanation is so simple as that we were made for the Infinite and Unchangeable God, compared with whom all else is imperfect, fragile, transient, and unsatisfying.

(Canon Liddon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.} O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

WEB: God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.

David's Owning Of, and Application To, God
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