Have you ever seen a nest of baby birds crying to be fed? The helpless offspring of the Northern Cardinal squeak insistently and stretch their beaks as far as possible to be filled with whatever their parents have for them. Just imagine, this is what God expects us to do with Him. The mighty King David recognized his complete dependence on the Lord—and the amazing bounty he received when he did the same thing.
David deeply loved God but was beset with trials throughout his life. He probably wrote this psalm on the run from his son, who was trying to kill him and seize the throne.
Only that which is empty can be filled.
Psalm 63 describes intense longing. In verse Psalm 63:1, David says his soul “thirsts” and his flesh “yearns.” Strong’s Concordance says the Hebrew word used here means “to faint,” suggesting David is so empty he is near to collapse—not for physical sustenance, but spiritual. It might surprise us that God let David become so empty. Why might this be? Has it ever happened to you?
David says the land is “dry and weary” and there’s no water (v. 1). Everyone experiences longing, but many don’t realize when it’s for God. They try to fill the emptiness with other things or people. Yet part of being filled by God is recognizing nothing will satisfy our hunger the way He can. Have you ever tried to get sustenance from a “dry and weary land”? What was the result?
David is described as the apple of God’s eye and a man after His own heart (Psalm 17:8; 1 Samuel 13:14). Much of the book of Psalms records his close relationship with the Lord. Does this suggest to you a connection between nearness to God and hunger for Him? Does that seem contradictory, or do other “hungers” operate the same way?
CONTINUING THE STORY
Our Father fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 63:1-4 suggests that to be filled, David had to recognize his emptiness, turn away from anything his surroundings could offer, cry out to God, remember His glory and love, and praise Him with uplifted arms. In Psalm 63:5, what does David say the result was?
“Marrow” (v. 5) refers to the fat used in sacrifice and indicates “the best part of something.” For David to use this phrase suggests he felt he was receiving back the very best he’d already given God—and more (“fatness”). We at times resist giving something to the Lord for fear we’ll be in need, but He assures us He is a God of plenty. Think of a time you sacrificed something for God and received back more from Him in return. How does this affect your feelings about giving—whether money, time, love, or anything else? Is there something He’s asking you to give—or give up—for Him today?
In Luke 1:53, Mary says of God, “He has filled the empty with good things, and sent away the rich empty-handed.” Psalm 63 suggests David received not just one thing, but many because he reached out to God, crying to be fed. Thinking of both practical and emotional needs, what can you find in verses Psalm 63:3-11 that God gave the king?
Part of being filled by God is recognizing nothing will satisfy our hunger the way He can.
God is willing to fulfill our every need, even our need to hunger for Him.
Psalm 63:3-5 seem to indicate that one way David quenched his thirst for God was through song. What would quenching look like in your life? If you’re unsure, ask for God’s leading. And if you honestly don’t feel very hungry for the Lord, He’ll provide for that as well. Ask Him to give you a desire like David’s.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
This psalm of David is a passionate description of a man whose emptiness (pain, longing, lack, fear, helplessness, frustration) was filled by the Lord (with joy, comfort, love, protection, strength, and vindication). But as wonderful as that is, it’s only the beginning. This filling by God does not just satisfy our hunger; it also provides the fuel that makes us capable of great works for Him.
Under the New Covenant, our Father has provided amply for this, beginning at Pentecost, when the disciples first experienced His great plenitude. Read Acts 2:1-40, noticing that as Jesus’ followers were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were overcome with the power and ability to move mountains in His name.
After receiving God’s Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowds and gave a rousing sermon—he explained what was occurring, quoted prophecy, and clarified all that had happened to Jesus. Acts 2:40 says, “With many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them” to be saved through belief in Christ. All God’s gifts are ultimately given to glorify Him and point to Jesus. Think about what God has given you recently. How are you using it to praise His name?
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Staying close to Jesus increases both our longing for Him and its fulfillment—as well as our impact in the world.
Illustration by Adam Cruft