“In a Dry and Thirsty Land”


by Wayne S. Walker

     "O God, You are my God; early will I seek for you; my soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).  The heading for this Psalm says, "A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah."  This probably refers to some time after David had to flee from the jealousy of King Saul into the wilderness of Judah.  "Now the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.’  So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth" (2 Samuel 22:3).  David spent several years in the wilderness running from Saul and being cut off from the normal means under the old covenant of maintaining fellowship with God, so that he had to depend on a sense of personal relationship with the Lord to sustain him.

     I have never been "out in the desert."  Many years ago, my wife and I drove through a desert portion of our country on our way to visit a relative on the West Coast.  A few years ago I flew out to preach with a congregation that was in that same general desert area.  Of course, there were all kinds of comforts and conveniences to make those trips very endurable–an air-conditioned car, rest stops along the highway, a home with modern amenities where I stayed, etc.  However, I am sure that we have all seen movies or perhaps read books where someone was lost in the desert, so I assume that we can all imagine what it would feel like to have gone for days without any source of water and how thirsty one would be.  This is the kind of longing that David had for fellowship with God.  There are two important lessons that we can learn from this. 

     First, God created us with a spiritual need for His fellowship, and just as our bodies naturally thirst for water so our spirits should thirst for Him.  If that is the case, God has provided a means to fulfill that thirst.  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).  Jesus told the Samaritan woman of the water she drew from Jacob’s well, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst" (John 4:13-14).  Second, this world is indeed like a desert that can never provide the spiritual water that will satisfy this thirst.  Elizabeth Mills wrote, "No tranquil joys on earth I know, No peaceful, sheltering dome, This world’s a wilderness of woe, This world is not my home."  Ultimately, this thirst will be completely fulfilled only when we reach the "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1).

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