- Ballynahinch Congregational
Following after God
By Rev Victor Neill
This Psalm was believed to have been written when David was in the wilderness in Judah on the run from King Saul. It seems there were times when he felt very alone, bereft of human companionship – but he never was bereft of the Lord’s companionship! There are surely lessons to learn from David's experience when we are faced with difficulties or when, for whatever reason, we feel isolated.
First, we note: HIS PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD 'O God, thou art my God’ (vs 1). The God in whom David believed and trusted in, was not some distant Deity, who could not be reached and could not be personally known. David could say with honesty ’My God’ in the same way that he could say ’The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Ps 23) (We know the Shepherd of Psalm 23 is the Good Shepherd of John ch.10). The use of the possessive pronoun ’my’ speaks clearly of his trust and faith in God and indeed David throughout the Psalms expresses his trust in God. For example, in Psalm 7 v1 we read ’O Lord my God in thee do I put my trust’ and he encouraged others to do the same ’Trust Him at all times, ye people, pour out your heart before Him (Psalm 62 v 8) and that is advice that cannot be bettered! But, if there is an absence of trust, then it is likely that God will seem to be far removed from the difficulties we are experiencing. However, when we can honestly say, ’my God', then no matter what happens in life, we shall be able with His help to face every eventuality.
But it is important that our personal relationship with God should be : A PROGRESSIVELY DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP. Sometimes in our difficulties we try to carry on in our own strength – but David was wise enough to know he needed God’s help from the outset, for he wrote 'early will I seek thee’. So, do not try to soldier on alone until your back is against the wall before you finally seek God’s help! David desired and longed to know God better and so he put effort into his relationship: ”My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee" and "my soul followeth hard (adhere -stick close to) after thee’ (vs 8). Sticking close to and getting to know more of the Lord would have undoubtedly meant David spending time in His presence in prayer and meditation 'thus will I bless thee while I live, I will lift up my hands in thy Name’ (vs 4). The lifting up of the hands (palms) is indicative of prayer. It would appear from verse 6 that there may have been times when David experienced sleeplessness: ‘When I remember thee upon my bed and meditate on thee on the night watches’ (vs 6). Jews split the night into three watches and if David were awake during any of these night watches, then instead of tossing and turning in his bed, he instead turned over in his mind precious truths concerning the Lord - in others words he meditated! ’And meditate on thee in the night watches’. And, though David was in his early years a shepherd – he did not count sheep to help him get to sleep, instead, he meditated and spoke to the Shepherd of the soul!!
'I have a Shepherd, One I love so well; how He has blessed me tongue can never tell; darkness or sunshine, whate’er befall, Jesus, the Shepherd is my all in all’ (Leonard Weaver)