************ Sermon on Psalm 63 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 4, 1998
"A Closer Walk With God"
Topic: Walk of BelieversSometimes we as Christians are like that. We start out with high resolve, keeping Christ first in our lives. But soon, so very soon, our attention is diverted to things of lesser importance. One pursuit leads to another until we've strayed far from our original purpose.
A man bought a new hunting dog. Eager to see how he would perform, he took him out to track a bear. No sooner had they gotten into the woods than the dog picked up the trail. Suddenly he stopped, sniffed the ground, and headed in a new direction. He had caught the scent of a deer that had crossed the bear's path. A few moments later he halted again, this time smelling a rabbit that had crossed the path of the deer. And so, on and on it went until finally the breathless hunter caught up with his dog, only to find him barking triumphantly down the hole of a field mouse.
William Cowper, an 18th century song-writer, realized one day that something like this had happened in his life. So he prayed, "Oh, for a Closer Walk with God." He asked,
Where is the blessedness I knew,
when first I sought the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
of Jesus and his Word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
the world can never fill.
According to the heading, it is David who wrote Psalm 63. When David composed this ancient hymn he was not in a temple or worshipful tabernacle; rather, he was in the Desert of Judah. There in the desert he was alone, removed, obscure, separated from every comfort and friend. There he suffered thirst, hunger, pain, loneliness, and exhaustion. There in the desert David had many needs, yet David lets us know that none of these are his biggest need.
In Psalm 63 David tells us the who or what of his biggest need:
(Ps 63:1) O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Right away we see that David is not first of all seeking food, water, comfort, or rest – even though he is in the desert and badly needs all of these things. What David hungers and thirsts for above anything else is God. David seeks to be fully satisfied in God alone. David is searching for a deep communion with the Lord. David, we could say, wants to have a closer and dearer walk with God.
Why is David seeking God? David mentions a "dry and weary land." As far as his relationship with God is concerned, David has reached or had reached a dry spell. He wasn't as close to God as, for instance, when he was a shepherd boy. At that time he played his harp while he sang God's praises and at night he marveled over all the stars God had put in the night sky.
The "dry and weary land" mentioned by David is also a vivid picture of much of the church today. So few, so very few believers seem to seek God above anything else. So many, so very many are caught up in seeking the "stuff" of this world. As a result, their souls are empty and barren. So what we need today are Christian men and women and young people and children who are captivated by the pursuit of God, men and women and young people and children who want and seek a closer walk with God.
In his ancient song David tells us five elements to a closer walk with God. David knew what he had to do and what we have to do to have a closer walk with God.
I Go to Church - verse 2
A David's first prescription for a closer walk with God is found in verse 2:
(Ps 63:2) I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. To have a closer walk with God one of the things we have to do is attend worship services. This is so simple and so basic yet many Christians can't be bothered with regular and faithful attendance at worship. And as you well know, my brothers and sisters, we have two worship services every single Sunday?! Once when I mentioned this someone said to me, "Pastor, going to church twice on Sunday is not going to save you." They are right, of course. But, then, going to church once on Sunday is not going to save you either. Nevertheless, if you want a closer walk with God – and who here doesn't want a closer walk with God – you will desire to come as often as you can.
B David longs for a closer walk with God. So he talks about worship attendance:
(Ps 63:2) I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. In saying this, David reminds us of why we go to church: to meet with God and His Christ.
Why do you come to church, congregation? Out of habit? Because that is the way you were brought up? Out of obedience to the fourth commandment? Because of the beauty of the songs? Because of the charisma of the minister and the inspiration of his sermons? Because of the fervor of the prayers? Because of the joy of Christian fellowship? Because of the magnificence of the building? Because of the talent of the organists and choir director? To put on a good appearance?
When it comes right down to it, there is only one reason for coming to church. It is the reason of the psalmist. We come to church, first and foremost, to be in the presence of God and His Christ. We come to church, first and foremost, to meet with God. We don't come out of habit or obedience. We don't come because of the prayers and songs. We don't come because of the building and fellowship. We don't come because of the organists or choir director. We come because we want to meet with God and Christ.
Topic: WorshipEven today, many people come to church for the wrong reason. If you don't come to meet with God and Christ you are coming for the wrong reason.
Subtopic: True Attitude in
Title: Flattery of Men
The following true story is from the life of King Louis XIV of France: One Sunday when he and his royal party arrived at church, no one was there except Archbishop Fenelon, the court preacher. Surprised to see all the vacant seats, the King inquired, "Where is everybody? Why isn't anyone else present this morning?" The minister answered "I announced that Your Majesty would not be here today, because I wanted you to see who came to the service just to flatter you and who came to worship God."
Those who want a closer walk with God, then, make a point of attending worship as often as they can.
II Praise/Glorify God - verses 3-5
A David's second prescription for a closer walk with God is found in verses 3-5:
(Ps 63:3-5) Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. (4) I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (5) My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.David mentions glory and praise. And, he also tells us how and when to do this: with lips, mouth, and hands as long as we live. To have a closer walk with God one of the things we have to do is always praise and glorify Him with all of our being and in all of life.
B Praise is an important element in our walk with God. Unfortunately, many Reformed believers are afraid of praise because they associate it with some sort of wild, uncontrolled, highly emotional "praise service," in which individuals faint, scream, jump around, and dance in the aisles. Listen, praise is important! Those who want a closer walk with God make sure they praise and glorify Him: with body and soul, heart and mind, mouth and hand.
C There are many sorrows and trials in life. If we allow them to, they can so easily make us bitter and angry toward God and pull us away from Him.
Topic: Praise to GodPraise is the "taste berry" of Christianity, and when our hearts are filled with praise, nothing that God permits in our life can draw us from Him. Is you heart full of sorrowing? Sweeten your grief with praise. Is your soul burdened? Lighten your burden by praising God. Is your life full of disappointment? Dispel your disappointment with praise. Are you suffering from illness? Grow strong in soul, praising God that He loves you enough to chasten you. Keep the "taste berry" of praise in your hearts, and it will do for you what the "taste berry" of Africa does for the African.
Title: The Christian's Taste Berry
It is said that in Africa there is a fruit called the "taste berry", because it changes a person's taste so that everything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the "taste berry," becomes sweet and delicious.
Those, then, who want a closer walk with God make a point of praising and glorifying Him.
III Meditate Upon the Lord - verse 6
A David's third prescription for a closer walk with God is found in verse 6:
(Ps 63:6) On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. To have a closer walk with God one of the things we have to do is meditate upon God and the things of God.
We all have vivid imaginations. In fact, those imaginations can get us into trouble if they are not kept under control. Ugly pride or lust, hatred or jealousy, can feed our minds vivid pictures which can lead to terrible sins. This is precisely the case of "committing adultery in the heart" which our Savior mentions in Matthew 5:28. Allowing our minds to imagine the wrong things can ultimately result in drawing us away from God. Filling our mind and our thoughts with lust, violence, and greed can only result in poisoning our relationship with the Lord.
B To have a closer walk with God it is important that we fill our mind and our thoughts with the right things. David's suggestion: meditate upon the Lord and the things of the Lord. Think about God. Or, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col 3:2).
I find it especially noteworthy that David talks about meditating upon God "on my bed" and during "the watches of the night." Your see, Satan loves to come to us in the darkness of the night. He loves to have us fall asleep with our minds filled with violence, lust, greed because then he can plague our dreams all night long. That's why it is so good to ponder God's Word and allow the mind to dwell upon God before we go to bed. Restless, fretful nights are calmed by moments of meditation.
Those, then, who want a closer walk with God make a point of meditating upon Him rather than on the garbage and filth of the world around us.
IV Sing - verses 7-8
A David's fourth prescription for a closer walk with God is found in verses 7-8:
(Ps 63:7-8) Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. (8) My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. To have a closer walk with God one of the things we have to do is sing.
Now imagine: David was by himself in the wilderness. He had no audience. Yet, he sang for joy to the Lord. David knew that singing is essential in a believer's walk with God.
God called John and Elaine Beekman to missionary work among the Chol Indians of southern Mexico. They labored 25 years with other missionaries to translate the New Testament into the language of the Chol Indians. Today the Chol Church is thriving. It numbers more than 12,000 Christians. It is financially self-supporting.
What's interesting is that when the Beekmans came, the Chol Indians didn't know how to sing. With the coming of the gospel, however, the believers in the tribe became known as "the singers." "They love to sing now," said the missionaries, "because they have something to sing about."
B It seems that in every congregation of believers there are people who don't sing; others barely open their mouths. I want to tell you that it doesn't make any difference to the Lord how good or bad you may sound. It doesn't make any difference to Him whether you are on or off tune. What does make a difference to Him is whether you sing or keep silent.
God has given us the gift of music in order to draw us to Himself. In song our hearts and our voices are raised to the very throne of God.
I grew up with a father who loved to whistle as he worked. He told us once that was his way of praising God. I can't whistle for anything so I hum. I hum in the shower, I hum along with the organ or piano, I hum along with the choir, I hum on the bike, I hum in the car. I don't care that sometimes I get strange looks because in music God is glorified and my soul is uplifted.
C Music and song is used to give us a closer walk with God. But it can also be used to draw us away from God and Christ. So let me ask you – especially the young people and adult singles: what kind of music do you listen to? does it draw you closer to God or does it pull you away from Him? There is much music on the radio today that glorifies Satan and evil rather than God. So I want to warn you to make sure that in your music God is glorified.
Those, then, who want a closer walk with God make a point of raising their voices to Him in song.
V Rejoice - verses 9-11
A David's fifth prescription for a closer walk with God is found in verses 9-11:
(Ps 63:9-11) They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. (10) They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. (11) But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God's name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.To have a closer walk with God one of the things we have to do is to rejoice.
To rejoice in God is to rejoice in God's gifts. David thinks especially of God's gift of grace and mercy for him a sinner. But he also thinks of many other blessings that God showers upon him.
B David reminds us this evening that those who want a closer walk with God rejoice despite the circumstances of their life. David is in the desert because he has enemies who pursue him and hate him and seek to kill him. He is hungry and thirsty and tired. Yet, he announces that he will continue to "rejoice in God."
David's words remind me of what Paul says to the church at Philippi:
(Phil 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Whatever the circumstances, no matter what happens, God's people are to rejoice in God. And, if David had reason to rejoice – then we, in Christ, have even more to rejoice in because ours is the cross and the grave and the Spirit of the Savior!
Perhaps your life is filled with tragedy and hardship – and there is a lot of that, isn't there? I think of widows and others mourning the loss of loved ones, parents agonizing over wayward children, members struggling to live Christianly without any encouragement or assistance from an unbelieving spouse. I think of those who have gone or are going through the heart-ache of divorce – either in their own lives or in the lives of loved ones. I think of those families with handicapped children. I think of those who find themselves struck with a debilitating disease. I think of those struggling to make ends meet. It is tough in such situations to feel any joy. In fact, joy is the last thing you feel.
If you want a closer walk with God even in such circumstances you are to "rejoice in the Lord."
David's message to us: go to church, praise and glorify God, meditate upon the Lord, sing, and rejoice.
What happens if we do this? The result is a closer walk with God.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page