Behold His Love - Radical

Behold His Love

All of God’s attributes are perfect, but for those who are born separated from God in our sin, which is all of us, there is perhaps nothing more beautiful than God’s mercy and grace. It’s little wonder that the authors of Scripture continually praise God for His undeserved favor. In this message from Psalm 63, David Platt encourages us to behold God’s mercy and grace. Such a vision should compel us to imitate the psalmist in pursuing the God who satisfies our deepest longings.

Heather and I are coming up on our wedding anniversary next week. One year, as a present for our anniversary, she gave me a scrapbook filled with letters and notes that I had written to her over the course of our relationship that she had saved. The first time I preached here, a few years ago—I was filling in one Sunday in the summer—I shared a portion of one of those letters. You’ll have to forgive me if you were here on that Sunday, but I want to pull that letter back out, because I think it will help us understand our text today, Psalm 63. Believe me, it will not help any reputation I have.

Let me set the context. I mentioned to you that Heather is the only girl I ever dated, which sounds noble until you realize I was just very awkward socially growing up. Some would say I still am. I was afraid to talk to girls, and God by His grace provided a girl who started talking to me. The problem was, although we had gone on a few dates, a year after I met her we were still just friends. There came a point when she moved off to college while I was still in high school, which meant the only girl who would talk to me was gone—so I was pretty sad.

At the time I wrote this letter, we were still just friends—but I wanted to be more than friends. Apparently I wrote this letter right after we had talked on the phone one night. This is what the letter said. “Dear Heather, Dude, I am so glad you called tonight.” Now, what kind of opening is that? When a guy writes a letter like this, he pores over every word. I have no clue what compelled me to think that the first word out of the chute should be “Dude.” But that’s what I said. “Dude, I’m so glad you called tonight.”

I continued, “I wanted to call Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today, but I just figured you were too busy.” You’re not supposed to say that! You’re supposed to say you’ve been really busy. Apparently I was not.

So I said, “When I heard your voice, it was so awesome that I can’t explain how I felt. You sounded so awesome.” Is this not the most lame thing you’ve ever heard? “Awesome” twice. It got worse. It got three pages of worse. It was so bad. It’s just so painful even to look back. I wish this was not real, but it was real.

I’ll spare you the three pages. Let me just jump to the end. Here was my rousing conclusion. Here’s how I brought it all home. “Dude, I’m not just wasting ink when I say this.” Wasting ink?! Can you tell I never had a girlfriend? “I’m not just wasting ink when I say this. My life isn’t the same without you around, and I miss having you to talk with and spend time with. I miss you something fierce.” Fierce? “Praying for you, Dude.” So, if you’re counting, that’s three Dude mentions in a total of eight lines. “In Christ.” Don’t blame this on Him—it’s not His fault. “In Christ, David.”

So that was the letter I wrote on that day to the person I wanted to be my future wife. No, don’t clap! Why are you clapping? You’re clapping because you feel sorry for me. No, I know. You’re clapping for yourself. You thought you were socially awkward, until this moment. Now you’re feeling so much better about yourself. Or maybe you’re clapping for my wife, who’s sitting here. She’s got to put up with that guy. Or maybe you’re just clapping in worship. “O God, only You could cause a man like that to be married….”

These words that admittedly seem ridiculous to you—they reflect something. They reflect a relationship—my relationship with my wife, marked by adoration and affection and longing and ultimately love. And my simple question for every one of you today is this: do those words describe your relationship right now with God? Adoration. Affection. Longing. Ultimately, love. In the next few minutes I just want to ask what I believe in a sense is the most important question I could possibly ask. And I don’t want to ask it in general—I want to ask you, right where you’re sitting. Not the person in front of you, or behind you. I want to ask you: is your heart in love with God?

I’m concerned that for many professing Christians, words like “affection,” “longing,” “love” don’t really describe our relationship with God. I’m concerned that many people in the church have faith in God, but for a variety of different reasons—if we’re really honest—we lack feeling for God. It’s as though we have belief in our heads. We even believe in His love. We know God so loved the world, and so loves us, that He gave His Son to die on the cross so that whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life. We can hear that verse and know that it’s true, and actually believe this about God in our heads.

But if we’re really honest, there can be a passion for God that’s missing from our hearts. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. I’m jealous for that not to be the case in our lives. I don’t want to experience a day—I don’t want you to experience a day—missing out on the satisfaction God has designed for your relationship with Him right now. And I really don’t want you to miss out in eternity.

I was reading James 1:12 and 2:5 a couple days ago. Both talked about how heaven is prepared for those who love God. Not merely for those who believe in God. James says even the demons believe in God. They’re not in heaven.

Heaven isn’t even for those who do things for God.

Matthew 7 haunts me, when I hear Jesus say that “many people”—not some or a couple or a few, but many people—will stand before Him on judgment day and say, “Lord, did we not do all these things in Your name.” And He said, “I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from Me.’” Do we hear that? Many people will be shocked to stand before Jesus one day, thinking their eternity was safe when it was not. That’s why I’m asking you, “Is your heart in love with God?” This is a key to life now and life in eternity.

Now, how do you create that kind of love for God? Can you somehow manufacture it? How do you get it? I believe the answer the Bible gives us is for you to realize the greatness of God’s love for you. You need to realize it, and then you need to receive it.

I’m going to read Psalm 63, because it is one of the most beautiful expressions I think in all the Bible of love for God. But right in the middle of it, King David—who’s writing this—says to God, “Your love is better than life.” That’s why I believe David feels this kind of longing and love for God, because he knows God’s love for him is better than life itself. I long for us to know that as well. Because when we know that, I believe we will long for God like this.

I want to read Psalm 63, and then I want to show you what happens when you realize the greatness of God’s love for you. I’ll give you four effects of God’s love on your life, when you realize it. But not just in your head, “I know God loves me.” Demons believe that God loves sinners. The question is: do you realize it in your heart? I want to talk about what happens in your life when you realize that in your in heart.

Psalm 63—“A psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” Listen to these words of prayer.

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.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

in your name I will lift up my hands.

 

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

when I remember you upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.

 

But those who seek to destroy my life

shall go down into the depths of the earth;

they shall be given over to the power of the sword;

they shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by him shall exult,

for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

 

Let me pray for us.

God, I pray for this kind of relationship with You all across this church. I pray for people who don’t have any relationship with You right now, that even in the next few minutes that might change. I pray for men and women and students right now whose hearts may not be hot for You. I pray that that might change in the next few minutes. May You would kindle passion in our hearts as Your Word is heard. For those who do have longing for you, I pray that it would only increase today. I pray for these things in my own life and in our church. When You see McLean Bible Church, we want You to see a people whose hearts adore and long for and love You. May that be so, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Realizing God’s Love in Psalm 63

So how does God affect a person so that he writes these kinds of words? Well, if we start at the top, even before we get to verse one, it says that David was in the wilderness of Judah. We don’t know for sure what the setting was, but it was most likely when King David was fleeing during his son Absolom’s rebellion. But we do know David was in the wilderness both physically and spiritually. Physically he was on the run for his life, with his kingdom in danger. He talks about those who were seeking his life. He mentions “as long as I live.” It’s a picture of a man who is in danger of death. And the spiritually he was separated from the sanctuary in Jerusalem, the temple, the place where God’s glory dwelled among the people in a palpable way. David missed being in the middle of God’s worship.

 

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you, then your relationship with Him becomes a consuming addiction, not a convenient addition.

Obviously it’s not the same thing, but think back to my love letter to Heather, where I missed her. She was gone to college, and I was consumed with thinking about her. You would probably say I was obsessed with her. But that’s kind of the point here.

This is the first effect. Psalm 63 was written by a man with a consuming addiction to God. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you.” That language actually has dual meaning. It could be translated “early I seek you,” or “earnestly I seek you,” because the word for “seek” is related to the Hebrew noun for dawn. So the picture is that the moment David begins his day, he wants to be with God. His eyes are open early, and the first thing he thinks is this: “I’m seeking You.”

All day long he says, “My soul thirsts for you.” He’s in a desert without water—and he’s desperate for it. Imagine being in a desert. You know that if you could just get a glass of water, that would totally replenish you. That’s what David is saying. “I’ve seen You in the sanctuary. I’ve beheld Your power and glory. Your love is better than life. I know if I can just be with You, my soul will be replenished like water to a thirsty body.”

Verse 5, “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.” He craves God more than he craves food.

And it’s not just in the morning and all day long—it’s at night as well. Verse 6, “I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” Doesn’t this sound like an obsessed man? “I just think about You all the time.”

That’s why I used the word “addicted.” Think about an addict who’s consumed with desire for one thing. He’s driven with desire for one thing, and he believes if he can have that one thing, he’ll be satisfied. This is like David in Psalm 27, where he says, “One thing I ask, one thing I seek—I just want to be with You, God.”

This is what biblical faith is all about. Biblical faith in God is a consuming addiction to God. Think about other examples. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Verse 23, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Doesn’t that sound like an addict? “More than my own life, I have to have this one thing: I want to be with You.” That’s the picture here. This is Christianity. This is what Jesus taught.

Just a few days ago in my personal Bible reading, I came to Luke 14:26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” What does that mean? You can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless you hate your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters—even your own life? We’ll talk about this more in a minute. Obviously we know from all of Scripture that we’re commanded to honor our father and mother, to love our spouse, children, family.

What Jesus is inviting us into here is a love relationship with Him that will make our closest relationships in this world look like hate in comparison. That’s why He says later, in Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Don’t miss this. This is an initial teaching from Jesus. This isn’t an in-depth discipleship lesson #10. This is #1—if you’re going to be His disciple, you’ve got to realize that Christianity is an obsession with Christ. Christianity is a relationship with God that is like a consuming addiction to Him.

But I fear that this idea is foreign among us. I think if we’re not careful we’ll totally miss this. And instead of God being a consuming addiction in our lives, we make God a convenient addition to our lives. I think we’ve created a picture of Christianity today where we just add God on to all sorts of other people and things that we love in our lives. We love, even idolize, family, health, work, money, success, sex, sports, exercise, food. We could go on to a host of other pleasures, pursuits, possessions in the world that if we’re not careful we’ll give our affection and attention to—and then we just add God into the mix.

Sure, we’d say we believe in God. We’d even say we worship God. But the question is: do we want Him more than we want anyone or anything else in this world? Do we want God more than we want our spouse or our kids? Do we want time with God more than we want an extra hour of sleep or exercise or so many other things we spend our days doing? Do we want God’s glory in the world more than we want our comforts in the world? Do we want God’s glory more than we want our money? And if any of these things are true in our lives—that we want those things more—that seems to be a sign that we don’t realize the greatness of God’s love for us.

We’re missing something. Our perspective is off. We’re talking about the God of the universe, Who is infinitely more beautiful, infinitely more wonderful, infinitely more loving, more satisfying than everyone and everything in this world put together. We’re talking about God. The God of the universe loves you! Right where you’re sitting—you. Even though you’ve rebelled against Him, even though you deserve separation from Him forever, He loves you so much. He’s created you. As we read in Psalm 139, He’s fearfully and wonderfully made you. He knows you and everything you’ve ever done, and He loves you anyway.

And He has invited you, right where you’re sitting, to experience—not a religion characterized by cold, monotonous, dull routine—no. God has invited you to experience a relationship with Him characterized by love and adoration and affection and joy and delight. It’s an awesome thought, and this leads to the second effect of God’s love.

 

Through Psalm 63, You realize your worship is no longer mere duty—it is immeasurable delight.

Think about it. David is clearly not talking here about the worship of God as something he has to do or needs to do or is supposed to do—though in a sense, worship is all of those things. God deserves our worship. But David is talking about God’s worship as something he longs to do. This is not duty for him—this is delight. If you look at the actions here, he’s singing with his lips, he’s lifting up his hands, he’s shouting for joy.

Let me illustrate this. I mentioned I was preaching last Sunday morning in Atlanta due to a previous commitment I had made. Heather and I are from Georgia, and we went to the University of Georgia. They were in a football game last Saturday, and a friend gave us some tickets to it. So we took our two oldest boys to this championship football game. I’ve been in Virginia for a few years now, and I had forgotten what the big deal college football is in the SEC. It was over the top.

Going back into that scene brought back a flood of memories from college. I remember one time somebody gave us tickets to a Georgia/Georgia Tech game, kind of a rivalry game. We find our seats in the middle of a bunch of people we didn’t know. But if you’ve ever been to a college football game, the way it works is you’re automatically best friends with everybody around you. You’re united in your love for Georgia football. So we’re talking with all these people, except for this guy on my left. He was just a little strange…well, a lot strange. If you’ve ever been to a college football game, you’ve got a picture in your mind, but this was way over the top.

So we weren’t really connecting.

And that’s important, because when the game started, we’re cheering, and the first time Georgia scores a touchdown, everybody starts going nuts—standing up, screaming, high-fiving a bunch of guys I’ve never met before. And then I made the mistake of turning to my left. And all of a sudden I found myself in this man’s embrace. We start hugging, and we’re jumping up and down together, and he’s screaming, I’m now screaming—and it was like this the whole game. Not me and him hugging and jumping and screaming, but just this intensity.

And I just remember thinking, “What kind of universe are we in? This is crazy? This many thousands of people going ballistic over a bunch of guys we don’t know who are running around on a field with a pig-skin thing in their hands, trying to cross a white line. This is very odd.” It was fun, and we enjoyed it. We were totally into it. But that night, as I was tucking our boys into bed—they’re eleven and ten years old—one of them says, “Dad, will you pray for me?”

This was totally unsolicited. We hadn’t talked about this at all. Earlier that week in our family Bible reading we had read in Luke 14 the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. We read how there was rejoicing in heaven over one person who turns and trusts in Christ. We had talked about those things a few days earlier. But now when my son asked me to pray for him, I said, “Sure, buddy—how can I pray for you?” He said, “I need to pray for my perspective. I feel like I’m more excited about Georgia winning a football game than I would be if I heard somebody had come to Christ. I was more excited about that than I am about going to church tomorrow. I just think I need a different perspective.”

So I prayed that, for him, for his brother and for myself. And

I was reminded of how easy it is for our affections to get so excited about things in this world—maybe about sports, maybe about something else. These aren’t bad things, but they need to be kept in perspective. How much more should our affections be excited by the worship of Almighty God? Do we realize what we’re doing right now? We’re gathered in a room packed full of people to worship Him. He’s in our midst. This is glorious, isn’t it? What we do now is so different from every other hour in our week. We’re assembled in the presence of the God of the universe to sing and to listen to Him speak to us.

This is not duty—this is immeasurable delight. And there’s a big difference between the two.

Imagine I would go to Heather next week on our anniversary. I give her a dozen red roses. She says, “Thank you, David, that means so much,” and I say in return, “Well, it is my duty.” There are so many reasons I’m not going to say that. But the main one is obvious: true love is not driven by obligation, but by passion. I want to do this.

So mark it down, brothers and sisters—we will not honor God with worship as obligation. We will not honor God by coming in here, singing some songs, praying some prayers, listening to a sermon, and walking away having done our Sunday duty. That is not honoring to God—and on a side note, let’s be honest, that’s not satisfying to us either. Which is why God has not designed worship to be that way. He has designed worship to be a time when we come together to behold the power and glory of God, a love that is better than life itself. Our lips start to overflow with praise. Our hands shoot into the air. Our shouts rise to heaven and resound across Washington—because we are a people in love with God.

May this be the scene every week in our worship. May this hour be marked by a heart-captivating, mind-exhilerating, breath-taking, awe-inspiring worship of Almighty God. That kind of worship will not only be glorifying to God, it will be satisfying to us. People who realize the grace of God’s love know that worship is not duty—it is delight.

A quick side note here before we move on to the third effect. Some parents in this congregation received a surprise this morning when they gathered with the church to do the Christmas Village. Our Kids’ Quest ministries are not operating as normal. So we sent out emails to that effect. But there are a variety of children here today that may not normally come to worship. In light of that, I want to pause and encourage parents, that even when Kids’ Quest resumes, we need to prioritize kids being in worship with their parents whenever possible. But that encouragement doesn’t make sense if we see worship as duty. It only makes sense if we see worship as delight.

So if we want our kids and students to catch a passion for God—which I hope is what we want—then we need to show them passionate, delightful worship of God. I think it’s a tragedy that so many children in so many churches never see their parents singing songs of joy to God. They’re missing out on seeing Mom or Dad with their face in their hands or tears in their eyes, just overwhelmed by the grace and greatness of God in worship. Don’t we want our kids to see that? Just think about the cumulative effect if kids, between the ages of four and 18, spend those hundreds of worship services with Mom and Dad in authentic, passionate communion with God. It’s an effect that cannot be measured. What if they see they parents overwhelmed with awe, beaming with joy, singing the praises of God, with Bible open, listening to the Word of God?

Some might say, “Won’t the sermons be over the children’s heads?” Well, of course it will. It’s supposed to be over their heads. They’re beginners. But when they come out of the womb, the English language is over their heads. We don’t say, “Well, let’s just put them with other children so they can understand the language they speak.” No, we immerse them in the English language, most of which they do not understand—but what is our hope and expectation? It’s that they’ll grow to understand it and enjoy it and know it. May we never underestimate what they do understand. And I hope we learn to dialog with our students in those teachable moments after the worship service, explaining things to them in a way that has a massive impact on their spiritual growth.

It doesn’t seem right that we as parents would take our children in their most formative years and only let them be with other children, or with other adults for that matter, to shape their understanding of the worship of God—something that is so essential. In a sense it’s the essence of what life is about. We want to show them that. We want to have them with us as we model what it means to have reverential joy in the presence of Almighty God. And if worship is duty, that will make no sense to us. If worship is delight, then let’s be jealous for our kids to experience that.

 

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you, you want God more than you want even His greatest gifts.

So when you realize the greatness of God’s love for you, it just changes everything. Worship’s not a duty, it’s an immeasurable delight. That leads to the third effect, something I want to show you in Psalm 63—and it’s one of the barriers, if not the largest barrier, that keeps us from getting to that kind of worship and keeps us from this kind of addiction to God. The third effect of realizing the greatness of God’s love for you is that you will want Him more than you want even His greatest gifts.

It’s here that I want to address an obvious question that I think would be in your mind in light of what we’ve seen and said up to this point. Biblical Christianity involves obsession with Christ, addiction to God, love for God that is greater than love for anyone or anything in this world. But does that mean it’s wrong to love your spouse, even a lot? Or to love your kids deeply? Or for that matter, is it wrong to enjoy all kinds of good things that God gives us in the world? The answer—in light of all Scripture—is absolutely no. It is altogether right—it is biblically right—to love your spouse a lot, and to love your kids deeply. God exhorts us in His Word to enjoy all kinds of good gifts that come from His hand.

But that’s just it. If we’re not careful, is it possible to receive those gifts and love them more than we love the God Who gave them to us? I would go a step further. It might even be dangerously easy for any of us to love family, health, hobbies, homes—all sorts of things—and even to thank God for these things, but not to actually love God. I would say it’s even possible, if not dangerously easy, for people to love forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven, but not to love God. You say, “How is that possible?”

Think about it. Imagine you’re stranded at sea, drowning in the water, and a ship arrives to rescue you. Just because you want that lifeboat to come get you, and just because you gladly take it in order to live, that doesn’t automatically mean that you love the captain of the ship. That’s a very different thing, isn’t it? And if we’re not careful, this is what we’ll call Christianity today. It’s a bunch of people who don’t want to go to hell and who will gladly take the supposed lifeboat to heaven. But you look at their lives on earth, and there’s little to no real love for the Captain of the ship. In other words, you can have a lot of people in the church gratefully enjoying all kinds of gifts—even thanking God for those gifts. But the reality is, when it comes down to it, their hearts aren’t for the Giver, but for the gifts.

I want to point out—that’s not the case in Psalm 63. Do you see how everything here is focused on God and not on His gifts? “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you.” Not, “I seek what You have to give me,” but “I seek you.” You’re not a means to an end. You’re the end. My soul thirsts for You. My body longs for You. Not Your gifts. I’ve seen You in the sanctuary. I’ve beheld Your power, Your glory. Your love is better than life. That’s why I praise You. In Your name I lift up my hands. My soul is satisfied with You—not Your gifts. I think of You all day and night. My soul clings—not to Your gifts. My soul clings to You.

Your Life is driven by what you love

This is what biblical faith is designed to be. When David says, “Your love is better than life,” h just took what is arguably most valuable—to him and to us, life itself—and he’s putting it in a totally different perspective.

Think about it this way. Your life is more valuable to you than your money. If a robber were to confront you tonight and threaten your life if you didn’t give him the money you have, you’d give him the money to preserve your life. Life is more important. Your life is more valuable to you than comfort. You and I will endure all sorts of painful surgeries, procedures, processes. If a doctor tells us that’s the only way we can live, then we’ll do it.

So you apply that picture here. David is saying, “Ask me to choose the good gift God has given me called life, or choose the God Who gave me this gift in His love for me—I choose the Giver every time. I want God and His love more than I want life.” And the heart that knows the greatness of God’s love says the same thing with every other gift—even the most valuable gifts in this life. The heart that knows the greatness of God’s love wants God more than even His greatest gifts.

We think about family, we think about health, we think about food, friendship, music, art, sports, hobbies, jobs, achievements, comfort, acclaim—so many good things in this world, even great things in this world. The Bible is not saying any of these things are bad in and of themselves. They are good gifts from God. Yet if we long for and love these good or even great gifts more than we long for and love the Giver of those gifts, then we are idolators and not worshipers of God. And it’s dangerously easy to go there, isn’t it? Idols in our lives are not usually bad things—they’re good things. That’s why they’re idols. Our hearts are drawn to them.

I think about my kids. I mean, I’m planning to give them some gifts for Christmas. But if these guys take those gifts and start playing with them and never talk to me again, but just totally forget about me, I’m going to think twice about the gifts next time. Because they’re missing the point. I want to give them good gifts. This is part of how God brings satisfaction to us. But our satisfaction is ultimately not found in the gifts—our satisfaction is found in the Giver. That’s the whole point. When you know the greatness of God’s love for you, then you’ll be satisfied in the Giver more than the gift.

 

Through Psalm 63, your experiences in the wilderness become experiences in worship.

Some of you are going through hard times right now. What does this mean in your life? When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you, then your experiences in the wilderness become experiences in worship.

We mentioned at the beginning that David wrote this psalm in the middle of the wilderness, when his life was in danger. By the end of this psalm, in the face of those who seek to destroy his life, he’s saying, “The king rejoices in God.” How is that possible? How is it possible to rejoice in God when you’re in the wilderness, when you’re at the end of your rope and you’re not even sure tomorrow is going to come? Or as we see in some of the psalms, you’re not even sure you want tomorrow to come, because you’re so tired of the challenges and the trials you’re facing.

I know some of you are there. Some of you just got to the wilderness, and some of you have been there for a long time. Some of you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but some of you don’t see a light anywhere. You’re at the end of your rope. Maybe it’s physical health, in your own life or somebody around you. Maybe it’s just life challenges in your family or your work. Some of you are afraid of what tomorrow holds. For others of you, there are days when you don’t even want tomorrow to come.

Let me put it another way. Some good gift from God is not there in your life right now. Or maybe some good gifts are not there. I think about Sandy’s testimony earlier, when she mentioned her hair was falling out. Hair is a good gift. Health is a good gift. But when the good gift was taken away, she said, “I looked up and saw that God’s love was sufficient for me, that the Giver was still there.” That’s the whole picture of biblical faith. It’s trust in the Giver when the gifts aren’t there—when the health is fading, when your marriage is struggling, when your kids are wandering, when work is wearying and your life is tiring and on and on and on.

When we’re in the wilderness, and God’s gifts aren’t there, here’s the good news. If our hope—our affection and adoration—is tied up in the gifts, then when one of those gifts is taken away, our hope comes crashing down. Life comes crashing down. But we’re not intended put that kind of stock in even the greatest things in this world. When these things are taken away, when you’re in the wilderness, and you don’t know where to turn, you can look up and see the Giver is still there. His love is still there. Do you want to know why His love is better than life? It’s not only because it stretches higher and deeper than anything else in this world. His love is better than life because it lasts longer than life. Not even death can take away the love of our God.

When you get to the end and you breathe your last breath, all these gifts are gone, just like that. But there’s a God Who has saved you from your sins. Don’t just hear it or feel it—believe it. God so loves you He gave His one and only Son so that when you believe and trust in Jesus to save your from your sin and to reconcile you to God, you will never perish. You will have everlasting life with Him. That is love that nothing in this world can ever compare with.

If you’ve never believed or received that love in your life, I invite you to do that today. It’s not just some cold religious routine. But do you realize that in your sin, right now, you’re separated from God. But God loves you and has made a way for you to be reconciled to Him. Say today, “I receive Your love. Forgive me of my sin. Reconcile me to Yourself. I’m in the desert, and You’re the water. I just want to drink from You.” He will not only save you from your sin. The beauty is He will satisfy your soul, now and forever, in a way that nothing in this world can.

And then for all who have a relationship with God, you know God in this way. But maybe, for whatever reason, your heart and mind has been drawn to all kinds of gifts or things or pursuits or affections in this world in a way that has pulled you away from Him. I want to invite you—not to see these things as bad necessarily, unless they’re sinful—but to see these things as gifts and to look beyond them to the Giver. Look at Him, and then exalt and praise Him and put your trust in Him. Especially if you’re in the wilderness and the gifts aren’t there, then look up and see a God Whose love is better than life.

Pray with me.

God, we praise You for this truth. This is a glorious truth. In a world where we are let down by so many things—even people. I think about people in this room who have had people who loved them for a little while, and then left them. Amidst the instability of this world, we praise You for the stability of Your love. We praise You for the constancy of your love. We praise You for the gift of Your love which is better than life itself and which lasts beyond life itself.

Help us, God, even right now in this room—if there’s anyone who has never put their faith and trust in You, I pray that in this holy moment they would say, “I need You to save me from my sins. I receive Your love today.” May that relationship begin right now.

And for all of us who have that relationship with You, we pray that You would increase our understanding of Your love for us, and in the process increase the depth and wonder of our love for You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

How can we apply this passage to our lives?

Question 1

How would you describe your relationship with God? 

Questions 2

If we’re honest, our relationship with God can sometimes feel routine or difficult. Why do think that is?

Question 3

What does it mean to behold God’s love? How might you intentionally pursue this? 

Question 4

Does having great affection for God mean that life should always be easy? Explain your answer. 

Question 5

Which gospel truths can you regularly meditate on in order to grow in your affection for Him? Make a  list. 

 

Behold His Love 

Behold His Glory, part 9 | Psalm 63 

 

Psalm 63:1 – 11 

“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. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and  glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I  live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will  praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the  night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to  you; your right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the  earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall  rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.”  

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you . . . 

Your relationship with God becomes a consuming addiction, not a convenient addition. 

Luke 14:26 

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and  sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  

Matthew 10:37 

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more  than me is not worthy of me.”  

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you . . . 

Your worship is no longer mere duty; it is immeasurable delight. 

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you . . . 

You want God more than you want even His greatest gifts. 

When you realize the greatness of God’s love for you . . . 

Your experiences in the wilderness become experiences in worship.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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