My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God.
The chief want of man is God. The soul is for God, and God for the soul. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
1. The first step in this answer to the deepest want of human nature is the conviction that God is — that God lives. Heart and flesh cry; where is the response? Joyful is the moment in the soul's experience when the reality of God's being comes over us with its full power. The first need of the soul is to feel that God is real — the great reality and essence of all things. And if sin had not shut up and darkened the windows of our being, this gracious light would flow in on every side.
2. Then we are to feel that He is Present and Living. The belief of not a few seems to be in a past God, a deceased, departed Deity, and the world as a huge skeleton out of which all the soul has gone, not an abode for the indwelling Power, but the ruins of His former stately palace. But He has not made the world and then retired from it. He is not an absentee proprietor. He is the present Creator, the living God, as on the world's first morning. He dyes the flower, and ripens the corn. Laws are but His uniform modes of working. Forces are but the heavings of the indwelling Almightiness. He is, and He is present. He overflows creation. He is all in all.
3. But the heart and flesh have another note in their cry, and it is for a Good Being, or, as our Saxon has it, God, that is, the Good, whom we may love. God, the Good, is in all systems, all beings, and in all working according to His own being, that is, for good." Father is His proper name. Nature, Providence, Jesus, all teach this comforting lesson. And When the heart in its hopes and affections, and the flesh in its griefs and pangs, cry, the response comes from every side, and is echoed and re-echoed in endless and harmonious sounds — God is good.
4. The want of the soul is not only for a good, but for a great God, whom we may adore. It admires greatness with an even earlier and intenser admiration than goodness. Our tastes change very much from youth onward. Things we once passionately admired cease to move us. The soul has got beyond them. It exhausts one thing after another. But there is one youthful sentiment that is never outgrown — that rises with our intellectual stature, and spreads with our moral expansion, and soars with our spiritual aspirations — and that is our faith in the Great God —
"And, as it hastens, every age
But makes its brightness more divine."
5. The nature of man has been so created as to seek after a Wise and Infinite Intelligence. We admire with huge respect the men even who have been able to pocket a little science, who can read a dozen languages, who are largely conversant with affairs, and know things as they are. A skilful invention is heralded from hemisphere to hemisphere. He who has read one of the characters in Nature's alphabet, or spelled out a few syllables or words in her mighty lore, is hailed with all the titles of glory. But no libraries, geniuses, scientific or literary associations, no fragments and crumbs that fall from the table of knowledge, can meet the unextinguishable thirst of man for the spiritual and the immortal. Let him not think to fill an infinite craving with anything less than the Infinite. But if I have at all rightly interpreted the significance of this cry, which is for ever ascending from the breast, and seeking after God, you may ask, How shall it be satisfied? I would not dogmatize, and say by any one way, but rather by all ways. It is more in the waiting, receiving, and teachable state of the soul, than it is by methods, cultures, churches, and dispensations. Seek, then, for the truth, and in the truth God will ever be coming, and entering in and taking possession of the soul, and driving out every darkness and weakness. Rest not short of God.
(A. A. Livermore.)
Parallel VersesKJV: My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.