Ancient Piety
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…

This psalm was composed in the wilderness of Judaea, where the privations he sustained lent language to devotion, and ardours to piety. It shows David as he really was, resting On the promises of God, and supported by earnests and pledges of his future hope. It is a more luminous display of ancient piety.

I. ANCIENT PIETY IS FOUNDED ON FILIAL CONFIDENCE: "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek Thee." A culprit cannot have this confidence in his judge, because he comes clothed with power to punish his crimes. But here the psalmist says, "Thou art my God"; mine by covenant; mine by promises; mine by innumerable blessings and answers to prayer; yea, thou art mine by full consent of heart, and by daily acts of faith, and devotion to all Thy holy will.

II. PIETY IS SUPREME IN ITS ASPIRATIONS AND DESIRES AFTER GOD: "My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh," etc. A prince whose heart was less impressed with piety than David's might have said, "These sands and deserts, which afford neither bread nor water, are not places for religion. Restore me to the throne, and then I will be religious; put the sceptre into my hand, and then I will defend the saint; give me the means, and then I will make all my people happy." Ah! promises of future piety do not gain much credence in heaven. The bosom-sin which seduces the heart in the desert would seduce it on the throne. Not so David: he would bring burning coals to the altar, that its ardours might glow the more when allowed to tread the hallowed courts. He asks for God alone.

III. THERE IS A REALITY IN THE CONSOLATIONS OF RELIGION; and a reality which surpasses all terrestrial enjoyments (ver. 8).

IV. PIETY: IT ABSTRACTS THE SOUL FROM THE WORLD; diverts it from the keen sensations of adversity; and so unites it to God, as to communicate a plenitude of Divine felicity (vers. 5, 6). Devotion elevates the soul to the true source of felicity, to drink of streams which are never dry. The mind, contemplating its God in the wide unfoldings of revelation, spontaneously kindles with the fire of the altar, and with grateful utterance of the heart.

V. THE ENJOYMENTS OF PIETY ARE INSEPARABLY CONNECTED WITH THE EXERCISES OF DEVOTION (ver. 5). While the psalmist was musing on all the ways of providence and grace, the fire kindled in his heart.

VI. IT WAS BY THESE EXERCISES, AND BY EXPERIENCE, that the ancient saints became decided in character, and attained THE FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH AND COMFORT (ver. 7). Those who waver in the faith, and are inconstant in duty, and whose religion is only like a winter's sun, find a failure in bringing the plants of grace to perfection.

VII. The brightest trait of piety is yet to come: SHE HOLDS FAST HER ASSURANCE AND JOY IN THE TIMES OF AFFLICTION, AND FORESEES DELIVERANCE BEFORE THE ARM OF SALVATION CAN ACTUALLY APPEAR. In all her troubles, the voice of despair is never heard. She lays hold on the promises, and embraces the sure mercies of David. Hear the psalmist's words in the wilderness, when all his enemies account him as lost and undone (vers. 9, 10). You who may be tried in various ways, and with the long-continued strokes of affliction, take to yourselves the full cup of comfort from the Word of the Lord. David's God is your God, and He will deliver you in His own time, and in His own way, out of all your troubles.

(James Sutcliffe, M. A.)

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.

A Wilderness Cry
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