Daily Reading: Psalm 17, 35, 54, 63
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
With all due respect to the good folks at Blue Letter Bible for this excellent chronological reading plan, I think they might have made a mistake with today’s reading plan. Let me explain:
Today we covered Psalm 63 because we assume that David was reflecting on the time he spent in the wilderness of Judah while he was on the run from Saul. This was after he had been anointed king, but before he took the throne after the death of Saul.
However, about thirty years later, David found himself in the desert again, on the run from his son Absalom (see 2 Samuel 15-18). So scholars are divided on which time David is reflecting on. The one clue that it could be referring to the second one is verse 11, when David refers to himself as the king who will rejoice in God. As long as Saul was alive, David didn’t think of himself as the king.
We can’t say for sure either way, but in my opinion the Psalm is richer and more meaningful for where I am in my life if it goes with the later period. I’m 55 years old. Sometimes I go through a desert season through no fault of my own. But more often I’m there because of my own sin (as was the case in David’s life when he fled Absalom). And during those times, I can beat myself up for making the same dumb mistakes over and over, or I can remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past.
This gives him hope for the future: “My soul will be satisfied.” (V 5). “I will sing for joy” (v 7) For David, God’s past performance reassures him of Gods future faithfulness.
So again, I could be wrong, and it doesn’t change anything about the truth of the psalm to place it at the beginning of David’s career. But if Psalm 63 is about the second Judah refuge, it’s all the more rich because there was a first one. David’s been in the desert before, and that gives him confidence that God will be his help again.
For a deeper dive into this Psalm, check out a sermon I preached a couple of years ago on Psalm 63.