Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire beside you.…
The text indicates the very high-water mark of religious experience, the very apex and climax of what some people would call mystical religion to which this man has climbed because he fought with his doubts, and by God's grace was able to lay them. To him the world's uncertain ill or good becomes infinitely insignificant, because for the future he has a clear vision of a continued life with God, and because for the present he knows that to have God in his heart is all that he really needs.
I. A NECESSITY WHICH, MISDIRECTED, IS THE SOURCE OF MAN'S MISERY. We all of us need, though, alas! so few of us know that we need, a living possession of a living perfect person, for mind, for heart, for will. You try to fill that deep and aching void in your hearts, which is a sign of your possible nobleness, and a pledge of your possible blessedness, with all manner of minute rubbish, which can never fill up the gap that is there. Cartload after cartload may be tilted into the bottomless bog, and there is no more solid ground on the surface than there was at the beginning. Oh I consult thine own deepest need; listen to that voice, often stifled, often neglected, and by some of you always misunderstood, which speaks in your wills. minds, consciences, hopes, desires, hearts; and is it not this: "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God"?
II. THE LONGING WHICH, RIGHTLY DIRECTED AND CHERISHED, IS THE VERY SPIRIT OF RELIGION. He, and only he, is the religious man, who can take these words of my text for the inmost words of his conscious effort and life. And only in the measure in which you and I recognize that God is our sole and all-sufficient good, in that measure have we any business to call ourselves devout or Christian people.
III. THE BLESSED POSSESSION WHICH DEADENS EARTHLY DESIRES. The sun when it rises quenches the brightest stars, that can but fade in his light and die. And so when, in answer to our longing, God lifts the light of His countenance — a better sunrise — upon us, that new affection dims and quenches the brightness of these little, though they be lustrous, points, that shed a fragmentary and manifold twinkling over the darkness of our former night. Only remember that this supreme, and in some sense exclusive, love and longing does not destroy the sweetness of lower possessions and blessings. A new deep love in a man's or a woman's heart does not make their former affections less, but more sweet and noble and strong.
IV. THE POSSESSION WHICH IS THE PLEDGE OF PERPETUITY. The whole context requires us to suppose that the psalmist's eye is looking across the black gorge of death to the shining tableland beyond. So here we are admitted to see faith in the future life in the very act of growth. The singer soars to that sunlit height of confidence in the endless blessedness of union with God, just because He feels so deeply the sacredness and the blessedness of his present communion with God. Next to the resurrection of Jesus Christ the best proof of immortality lies in the present experience of communion with God. If there be a God at all, anything is more reasonable than to believe that the union, formed between Him and me, by faith here can ever come to an end until I have exhausted Him, and drawn all His fulness into myself. This communion, by its very sweetness, yieldeth proof that it was "born for immortality." And the psalmist here, just because to-day God is the Rock of his heart, is sure that that relation must last on, through life, through death, aye I and for ever, "when all that seems shall suffer shock."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.