Psalm 63:2
We may imagine the psalmist in the wilderness. It is night. He stands at his tent door. The light of moon and stars falls on a sandy waste stretching into dimness and mystery. He is lonely and sad. The emptiness of all around and the memory of better times breed a great longing in his soul. It is not as if it were something new and strange, rather it is the revival of the deepest and strongest cravings of his heart, that as he muses gather force and intensity, and must express themselves in song. The key verses seem to be vers. 1, 5, 8.

I. THE SOUL'S LONGING. (Vers. 1-4.) When we "thirst for God," we naturally look back and recall the times when we had the truest and fullest enjoyment of his presence. We think of "the sanctuary." It was not the outward glory; it was not the splendid ritual; it was not the excitement of the great congregation; but it was the vision of God that then brought peace and joy to the soul. And that is what is craved again - more life and fuller: "To see thy power and thy glory." There are often circumstances which intensify and strengthen our longings. When we come to know God, not only as God, but as our God and our Redeemer, we feel that it is a very necessity of our being, that it is our life, to see him and to serve him, to love him, to worship him, to rejoice in him as all our Salvation and all our Desire.

II. THE SOUL'S SATISFACTION. (Vers. 5-7.) What alone can satisfy the soul is the vision of God; not God afar off, but nigh; not God in nature, or in the Law, or in the imagination of our hearts, but God in Christ. Here is true and abiding satisfaction, infinite truth for the mind, eternal righteousness for the conscience, perfect love for the heart. Philip said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" and the answer of our Lord was, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." The more we meditate on this possession, the more we rejoice and give thanks. We cannot but praise. "As the spirit of the whole Book of Psalms is contracted into this psalm, so is the spirit and soul of the whole psalm contracted into this verse" (Donne). "Because thou hast been my Help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice" (ver. 7).

III. THE SOUL'S RESOLUTION. (Vers. 8-11.) There is mutual action. The soul cleaves to God, and God cleaves to the soul. There is a double embrace - we both hold and are upheld. The result is invigoration - the quickening glow of life through all our being, the free and joyous resolve to cleave to God, and to follow him in love and devotion all our days. Our needs are constant, and God's love never fails. When we are weak, his strength makes us strong; when we are weary, his comforts sustain our fainting souls; when we are ready to sink in the waters, his voice gives us courage, and his strong arm brings us salvation. God ever comes to those who want him. Desire on our part is met by satisfaction on his part. More and more as we love and serve we enter into the joy of our Lord. Our heart is prophet to our heart, and tells of vanquishment of the enemy, of the coming glory and the pleasures which are at God's right hand forevermore. - W.F.

To see Thy power and Thy. glory, so am I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.
Desires are, in some respects, better evidences of real religion than actions themselves, You may be compelled to act, — you cannot be compelled to desire, Desires are free-born; they spring forth, spontaneously, from conviction and disposition. Good desires are proofs of something good, pledges of something betters and parts of something the best of all. Now, of the desires expressed in the text, let us note —

I. THEIR CHARACTER. They are distinguished by —

1. Their object: which is God. The natural man desires not God, but the regenerate must have the Lord. He seems to say, "Lord, I must have Thee."

2. Their intensity. See the terms by which they are expressed — "early, thirsteth," "longeth." All this expresses no ordinary desires; Herod would see our Lord perform miracles, but would not step abroad for the purpose. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" but did not wait for an answer. Balaam said, "Let .me die the death of the righteous," while he showed no concern to live their life, or to walk in their ways; for, as an old writer remarks, "There are certain trees which produce double blossoms, but which, nevertheless, bring forth no fruit." But as religion is the one thing needful — absolutely needful — needful on all occasions and in all circumstances, so its exercise and the feelings pertaining to it are all peculiar and supreme. It matters not what the feelings be, whether of self-abasement, of sorrow for sin, or of hope, or joy. It deeply affects the heart, it is not a mere subject of speculation, or a creed or a ceremony, but a life. Is it thus the Scripture speaks of religion? Does it not tell us that it is not a name to live, but life itself? — that it is not the form of godliness, but the power thereof? If religion be anything, it is everything; if it be important at all, it is all-important. What can equal the grandeur of the soul and eternity?

II. THEIR ENHANCEMENT, This arose from the fact that the psalmist was now an exile and a wanderer, shut out from the sanctuary and the sacred worship of God. Hence, he envied the very birds who could build and feed and lay their nest near the house of God. Absence sharpens affection; and want, desires. Indeed, we seldom know the worth of a thing till we are made to feel the want of it. Then take heed how you use God's grace now, for if you do not use and improve His gifts he will remove them from you, or you from them, as He can so easily do. By any one of many changes you may be plunged into spiritual barrenness, and have to cry, "My soul thirsteth for Thee," etc.

III. THEIR AIM. Observe —

1. What David wishes to see — God's power and glory. He means not alone the manifold proofs of God's power, but the glory that belongs to the purposes for which this power is exercised. See this in the glory and power of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His works of grace so mighty and yet so merciful.

2. The place of its display: it is "the sanctuary." Not that it is seen there only. God is everywhere, and everywhere God. He was found visibly and sensibly in the temple of old; but He is now really in our Christian assemblies. Though He is not obviously there to the natural eye, faith can realize Him there; faith can reckon upon the undeniable fact; we perceive His agency there. And this glorious power is seen not only in conviction, but in conversion. And it is seen, too, in the consolation of believers.

3. David's actual experience of these displays — "I have seen Thee," says he, "in the sanctuary." He was certain of the reality of the thing. A believer can come to this conclusion, and is not to be ridiculed or reasoned out of it. He can, and does, say, "I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste."

4. The usefulness of this experience. It stimulated him to seek after yet more of what he had already enjoyed. "To see Thy power... so as I have," etc. Now, such experience not only stimulates to seek more, but it tends to preserve the soul in the love of God, and also to recover him when he has been led astray. The unregenerate man knows nothing of all this. You will never hear to purpose till you so hear that your souls may live. You singers! if you do not sing with melody "in your hearts to the Lord" here, you will not be found among the blissful number of those who shall celebrate His praises in the courts above. And you hearers, if you are only that, what will the Gospel be to you? But you believers, rejoice.

(W. Jay.)

The desire of David was to see the power and glory of God; but he desired more than the manifestation thereof which the works of nature could afford; he would know God as revealed to his soul. We learn, therefore —




1. Deliverance from the power of the world.

2. And from doubts caused by the aspect of providence.

3. Strength renewed to go on our Christian course afresh.

4. The crucifixion of our lusts and corruptions.

5. Increase of humility.

6. Courage for our conflict with our last enemy, death.

(J. A. James.)


1. He desired the ordinances. That which carnal and worldly spirits count a burden and tediousness to them, the children of God look upon as a privilege, and do reckon it as their greatest advantage; and so should we, and rejoice in it, and much desire it, as David here does, who is herein a pattern unto us.

2. He desired the glory and power of the ordinances. There is a double power and glory in the ordinances. The one is as to the performance of them; and the other is as to the success and effect.(1) As to the performance, when there is a life and vigour and activity, which does put forth itself in them. It is not the mere opus operatum, so many duties performed as a task, and there's an end of it, which makes the ordinances glorious; but when there's a gracious and heavenly spirit, which runs along in them, which accordingly is that that every Christian should especially look after in the undertaking of them. This is obtained especially in this way. Namely, first, by preparation to them. We must be careful to remove all hindrances and impediments from us. Now, these they are of two sorts. First, all sinfulness and defilement. Secondly, all worldliness and earthly entanglement.(2) The like also as to the effect, when they do work effectually and powerfully afterwards. This is also to be looked after by us; and which David without all doubt did look after, that his heart might not only be warmed by the ordinances in the very time of performance, but even then also when he was gone from them; so as the strength and lustre of them might appear, and show itself forth in his life and conversation.

II. THE LIMITATION OR AMPLIFICATION OF THIS DESIRE. "As I have seen Thee in the sanctuary." Which words may admit of a double reference and interpretation in them. Either thus, That I may see Thy power and Thy glory in the sanctuary, so as I have seen Thee. Or else thus, That I may see Thy power and glory now in the wilderness, as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. According to the former sense, it is an earnest desire of the restoring of him to the opportunities of the public ordinances which he had formerly enjoyed. According to the latter sense, it is the like desire for a supply of the public ordinances, by God's gracious presence with him in private, now that the public were denied and kept from him. Which way soever we take it, there is matter of observation in it.

1. That I may see Thy power and glory in the sanctuary as I have seen Thee. And so he desires to be restored to the public ordinances, and to his former enjoyment of them. He would have communion with God in public; and he would have that communion which he had formerly with Him.

2. That I may see Thy power and Thy glory here in the wilderness as I have seen it sometimes in the sanctuary. And so it is a desire of a supply of the public ordinances, by God's gracious presence with him in private instead of it; where, supposing his desire (as it was) to be rational and regular in him, there is this exhibited to us in it, that God, in the necessary want and restraint of the public ordinances, is able to make it up to us another way; He can make a wilderness or prison, or sick-chamber, or bed to be a sanctuary, if He so please; yea, He pleases sometimes so to make it; upon which ground David here does desire it as otherwise he could not have done in faith and good assurance of obtaining it. Look, as the presence of a prince is that which makes the court, so the presence of God is that which makes the sanctuary, where God will express Himself after a more full and gracious manner, that is, indeed, His temple, and so to be accounted by us. Now, this He can do, and often does, even in deserts themselves —(1) By the bringing to our remembrance those truths which we have formerly heard. As it is with some salve or medicine which we lay up and keep by us, we know not the virtue of it till such time as we come to use it, and to stand in need of it; even so it is likewise with many doctrines and truths in religion. This is, therefore, one work of the Holy Ghost, and that whereby he does supply the defect of the public dispensations, by bringing home to our consciences in private those truths which have heretofore in public been imparted and communicated to us.(2) By the giving of .new experiences occasionally from the present condition, in which we are both of the temper of our own hearts, as also of His own grace, and strength, and assistance of us. In times of freedom we learn what we should be, but in times of restraint we learn what we are.(3) By working in us a greater longing and desire after the public ordinances.(4) By His own more immediate applications of Himself to us. The ordinances are nothing else but the conveyances and transmissions of Christ and His Spirit to us in an ordinary way. Now, God, if He please, can do it more immediately, and does in such cases, as He denies them. He expresses His own love, and good-will, and favour, and acceptance of us; stirs up good thoughts, and gracious and holy desires and inclinations in us; sheds abroad His love in your hearts, and becomes all in all unto us; and what He will be one day perfectly in heaven, He is now in part, and imperfectly already here.

(T. Horton, D. D.)


1. The place of presence. The Lord is there.

2. The place of friendship. Let us wonder and praise. God glorious in holiness, and people defiled with sin, meeting in friendship and love!

3. The place of converse.

4. The place of audience. The throne of grace, where the poor and needy in every nation are supplied according to his riches in glory.

5. The place of worship. The ordinances in our sanctuaries are not the inventions of priests, as the scorner calls them in his sport, but the institutions of wisdom and mercy.

6. The place of communion.

II. CONCERNING THE POWER AND THE GLORY OF THE DEITY SEEN IN THE SANCTUARY. Power is the energy of the Deity, which worketh all things. Glory is the splendour, on the face of His energy, which renders it mighty, and effectual, and exceeding great. Both are recognized and praised in His sanctuary by the worshippers in spirit and in truth.

1. By the worshippers the power or energy of the Deity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is recognized and praised in the sanctuary.

2. The splendour or glory on the face of the energy of the Deity is recognized and praised in His sanctuary. Every voice in it, every harp, every psaltery, sounds the high praises of His energizing word, who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast.


1. The sensible administration in the sanctuaries attracts the eyes of worshippers. We behold our teachers and rulers, hear the sound of their voice, and unite ours with theirs in thanksgiving and praise. We behold a table sanctified with the Word of God and prayer, and covered with memorials of the body and blood of the Lord. In one ordinance we behold the sprinkling of water, and in another the breaking of bread, which are sensible actions appointed, and designed to aid our minds in commemorating, magnifying, and praising redeeming love.

2. The glorious beauty in the sanctuaries feeds and satisfies the understandings of worshippers.


1. Longing to see and enjoy the Lord our God in the sanctuary appears to be a reasonable inclination, from the glory in Him that is seen.

2. This strong and fervent inclination appears reasonable from the pleasure in seeing the power and the glory of God in the sanctuary. When the pleasures of imagination disperse; when the tree yields no fruit, the stalk no meal, the stall no herd; when mirth and humour blow every way, as the smoke of the chimney, and philosophy holds out its hand to the empty soul in vain, an eye-glance of the power and the glory in the sanctuary discovers a fund of pleasures, which satisfy, enrich, ennoble, and exalt the rational and renewed mind.

3. This longing of the new heart to see God in the sanctuary appears to be a reasonable inclination, from the gain to the new creation in seeing the beauty of His power and glory. Its gain is better to them than gold, yea, much fine gold.

(A. Shanks.)

David's heart must have been in a happy state when he wrote this psalm. Note —

I. HOW HE SPEAKS OF GOD. "O God, Thou art my God." It tells of his great joy in God. And this when he was in great distress. So did our Lord on the cross call upon God, as, "My God, My God."

II. HOW HE SAYS HE WILL ACT TOWARDS GOD. "Early will I seek Thee." There shall be practical results from his calling God, his Go.d. These, often wanting. But had he not found Him already? Yes, but the more we have of God the more we desire. And he will seek Him early — in the first morning hour; and first of all, without waiting to seek others first, as we too often do.

III. HOW HE DESIRES GOD. "My soul thirsteth," etc. Only those who really know God can speak in this intense way. But they can and do.

IV. WHERE HE SEEKS GOD. "In a dry and," etc. There are places where we are tempted to sink down in wretchedness and despair. But not so David. God often sends His people to such dry places to quicken their thirst after Him.

V. WHAT HE SEEKS FROM GOD. "To see Thy power and," etc. We should have thought that deliverance from his troubles would have been the object of his prayer; but no, only that he may see God. And God's people do, often, now, in the sanctuary, behold God's power and glory. The Gospel preached, the sacraments we observe, all help herein. Oh, what blessedness this Gospel can give. But we shall never know it until we intensely desire it; until we seek early and thirst and long after God we shall not see Him. The psalm tells us that we may be happy, for God will abundantly satisfy the soul, and you shall feel that His lovingkindness is better than life.

(C. Bradley.)

We may judge of ourselves by our desires, and if the stream does not rise so high as we could wish, let us observe the direction in which it flows, and if it be towards God let us be comforted. Natural men live without God in the world. But such as David long supremely after Him, and so after the revelations of His grace and power as seen in His sanctuary. David's desire was excited —

I. BY HIS PRESENT CONDITION. He was "as in a dry and thirsty land, where," etc. We never know the worth of blessings till we know the want of them. "How mercies brighten as they take their flight." Thus sickness endears health. Upon this principle the Lord acts, and it will account for many of His dispensations.

II. HIS FORMER EXPERIENCE. He had met with God in the sanctuary as His people yet do. Others know not such experience. And vet they come there led by all manner of motives. But such coming will not avail before God. May David's experience be ours.

(W. Jay.)

It is not enough to make use of ordinances, but we must seek if we can find God there. There are many that hover about the palace and yet do not speak with the prince; so possibly we may hover about ordinances and not meet with God there. To go away with the husk and shell of an ordinance and neglect the kernel, to please ourselves because we have been in the courts of God, though we have not met with the living God, that is very sad. A traveller and merchant differ thus: a traveller goes from place to place only that he may see; but a merchant goes from port to port that he may take in his lading and grow rich by traffic. So a formal person goes from ordinance to ordinance, and is satisfied with the work; a godly man looks to take in his lading, that he may go away from God with God. A man may make a visit only by constraint and not by friendship; it is all one to him whether the person be at home or no; but another would be glad to find his friend there; so, if we from principle of love come to God in the duties, our desire will be to find our living God.

( T. Manton, D. D.)

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