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, these are deeply important questions, and for those of you who don’t like to think too deeply about things, I’m sorry (not really).
Tradition says that David wrote this psalm while in the wilderness on the run from his son, Absalom. Maybe more than anything else in life, our time spent in the “wilderness” causes us to ask these biggest of life’s 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 was willing to 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 the loyal, faithful, eternal, covenant keeping love of God. And God’s hesed is better than life. Why? Because his love for us IS life. Literally. Because of God’s covenant steadfast love for us, his hesed, we have his very own eternal life. Without God’s covenant love there is only death.
David is letting us know that to be in a covenant relationship with God is to have a higher level of life. A life beyond this life. An eternal life that is way better than any version of “living” that this world can offer. God’s covenant, his faithfulness, his loyalty, his discipline, his wrath, his promises, his salvation, and his affection for us, are better than anything else this life could offer. Better than any status, pleasure, comfort, power or glory that this earthly life could give or take away.
But how can we know that we have this covenant love of God? This hesed? This eternal life?
Because Jesus is the one who ultimately prayed Psalm 63:3 – your love is better than my life. And then he laid down his life for us. Why? 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, on the cross he cried, O God you are my God. He knew he could face temporal separation from God for us because the hesed of God would never abandon him to the grave.
And it won’t leave us rotting 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. Everlasting life that propels us into the fortress of God’s unbreakable commitment to us. Everlasting life that takes us beyond any of the suffering and successes of this life here and now. Everlasting love that never runs out and can never be shaken.
“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?
Playlist: Better Than Life.
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