Psalm 63:1-3. 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.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
What is the most precious thing in your life? What would you die for? What do you live for? Yes, I know these are deep questions…sorry (not sorry).
Tradition says that David wrote this psalm while on the run in the wilderness from his son, Absalom. Maybe more than anything else in life the wilderness (see day 28) causes us to ask these biggest of questions. For David, his greatest desire was God – O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you – and the thing he would die for was God’s love – your steadfast love is better than life.
In Psalm 63:3 the word for “steadfast love” is the Hebrew word hesed. This is a very special and powerful word. It is almost always used to describe God’s covenant relationships. The Hebrew word for affectionate love is ahavah (as in “love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor”). But the loyal, faithful, eternal, covenant keeping love of God is hesed. And God’s hesed is better than life. Why? Because it IS life. Literally. Because of God’s covenant, steadfast love for us, his hesed, we have his very own eternal life. Without hesed, there is only death.
Let’s be clear, David isn’t just saying that God’s affection for him makes him feel good inside and that it is, in some esoteric way, better than “life itself.” No. David is saying that to be in a covenant relationship with God is to have a higher level of life. A life beyond this life. It is an eternal, spiritual life that is better than this temporal, earthly life. God’s covenant – his faithfulness, his loyalty, his discipline, his wrath, his promises, his salvation, and yes, his affection for us – is better than anything else this life could offer. Better than any status, pleasure, comfort, power or glory that this human life could give or take away.
Would you die in order to keep God’s steadfast, loyal, covenant love? His hesed?
Here’s the good news – you don’t have to. God died for you that you might have his hesed in spite of what you do or don’t do. If and when we are ever asked to die for Christ it would never be a means of keeping God’s covenant love. The privilege of dying for Christ would only be possible because we know that Jesus went to the cross to gain God’s covenant love for us.
Jesus prayed Psalm 63:3 – your love is better than my life. And then he laid down his life for his sheep. How? Because he knew that his death was a door into the everlasting life and love of God. Jesus’ death was no gamble. He trusted fully the Father’s covenant, steadfast love for him. Like the psalmist, he cried, O God you are my God on the cross. He knew he could face separation from God for us because the hesed of God would never leave him in the grave.
And it won’t leave us there either. In Christ, we have been brought into the hesed of God. We have been brought into a higher level of life. Christ’s own life. An eternal, spiritual life that propels us into the fortress of God’s unbreakable commitment to us. An eternal, spiritual life that is beyond any of the suffering and successes of this life here and now. An everlasting love that can never be removed, and never runs out.
“To live is Christ” means living beyond this earthly life in the hesed of God that is beyond comparison. Now nothing done in this life is a gamble. Success or failure, win or lose, garden or desert, all can drive us deeper into the steadfast love of our covenant King.
What would you give your life for?
You in Christ
Do you believe that Christ’s life is far greater than anything this life offers?
Christ in you
How can the wilderness you’re in today drive you deeper into faith in God’s love for you?