1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 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 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
For my next few devotionals I plan on meditating on different aspects of God’s love. Today we’ll start with this: “your love is better than life.”
What do you think about when you don’t have anything else to think about? Where does your mind naturally travel and linger?
The other day I was feeling unsettled and dissatisfied with my life. I was so tempted to launch into my usual
diatribe prayers for the things that God just seems to not ever get right. Instead, maybe because it was Epiphany and I still hadn’t taken down our Christmas tree, a verse from Joy to the World began to run through my head:
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
In my desperation to get out of my head, I began to journal all the ways God loves me–all the wonders of his love.
Within minutes, Psalm 63:3 popped into my head: “Because your love is better than life my lips will glorify you.”
Better than life.
The life that I was seeking–all the created things that make up what I consider the good life–suddenly seemed so small. In this moment, I was flying. God was speaking to me through scripture. Connecting with me. Answering my
diatribe prayers with a reminder that no matter how much of this life I have, God’s love for me will still be better.
Thoughts can be like food for your soul. Some thoughts are like a feast–when you partake of them, you feel full afterward. But far too many thoughts–most of the ones we think–are like junk food. They are empty mental calories, leaving you hungry and dissatisfied. And feeling kind of gross.
I want purposeful and meaningful work.
I want to fall in love and get married and have a family.
I want that man/woman.
I want a perfect body.
I want that pair of shoes.
It’s not bad to want purposeful and meaningful work, or to have the love of a partner and family. It’s not bad to want to be in shape or feel good about yourself. But no matter how good these things taste to your soul, they’re not ever going to be hearty or substantial enough to fill it.
And some thoughts are just obsessive and possessive and grasping, the cotton candy of the thought-diet (lust for people, shoes, perfection, etc.)
Or look at it another way: when we talk about thinking, we often use the language of “dwelling.” There are some thoughts that are Downton Abbey-esque mansions–full of rooms and nooks and crannies to explore and enjoy. Then there are thoughts that are cramped New York City-sized studio apartments, where the more you stay and pace around them, the smaller and more claustrophobic they feel.
David, the king and psalmist wrote Psalm 63 while in the wilderness of Judah, fleeing from his usurping son Absalom. His physical condition reflects his spiritual condition: needy and thirsty for God.
He writes–in the midst of all of everything–“your love is better than life.”
Looking at the life of David, we can say that of course this is true for him. He was constantly on the run from Saul, had all kinds of inner demons that led him to commit adultery and then murder the cuckolded husband, fought many battles, had a completely dysfunctional family, and now is on the run from his own son. Of course God’s love was better than life. He had a pretty hard life.
But he was also a king with an abundance of wives, wealth, power, and prestige.
I think David is on to something here. He does something I wish I did more often. Instead of focusing on his predicament or on his physical need, or even a justified desire for vengeance, he meditates on what will fill him up. Though his circumstances were dire, he didn’t dwell in that tiny mental apartment or fill up on the unsatisfying, empty calories of frustration or grief. He instead feasts on God’s character and his love and faithfulness toward him (ok sure, with a little revenge thrown in there too).
There’s a reason why Paul the Apostle wrote these words to the church in Philippi centuries ago: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Today may we all have the grace and power to dwell on and in all the wonders of God’s love and may we experience that love as better than life itself.
Do: I found it really helpful to prayerfully list out the ways I have experienced the love of Christ in the past in my journal. As you do it, ask God to show you ways that he’s loved you that you haven’t perceived before.
Listen: This is one of my favorite hymns and is a go-to when I need to remember God’s love for me.
Pray: What better prayer to pray than Psalm 63?
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.