Do You Have a Hunger for God?
By Joseph Ametepe
During previous Thanksgiving Celebrations, one of the things that caught my attention was the "After Thanksgiving Sales." Hundreds of shopper stood in line for hours, even through the night, eagerly for the stores to open their doors. They were ready to buy and haul home their early bird bargain deals. In one of the stores, fist fights even broke out between angry and hungry bargain hunters. Sadly, in another store, a worker was trampled to death by hungry buyers. I thought to myself, there is certainly a "hunger for stuff." Obviously, the "Turkey Dinner" didn't satisfy people to keep them at home. Some of the shoppers were not only willing to wait in line for hours, but they were also willing to fist-fight and trample others, if that's what it takes to have their "hunger for stuff" satisfied.
Pondering these events, the following questions came to mind as I search my own heart about my hunger for God Himself. How much do God's people want God Himself in their lives? How hungry are God's believing children for God Himself? Are Christians eagerly desiring more of God in their lives like the shoppers who spent long hours, eagerly waiting for the stores to open their doors for them to get that special deal?
The purpose of this article is to encourage you as a believer in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ to ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh and deeper hunger for God Himself in your life-a hunger you've never experienced before.
And if you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I want to make it clear to you that there only one person in all of this universe who can satisfy all your deepest longings. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can fill the vacuum in your heart. No one or nothing else will do. Tell Him you need Him to cleanse and forgive you of your sins. Ask Him to come into your heart so you can enter into a new, saving and living relationship with Him.
Central Idea of this Article
Psalm 63 is a powerful Psalm. It is the primary Scripture of study for this article. In this Psalm, we learn of David's hunger for God. The central idea of this Psalm can be stated as follows: A believer who is really hungry for God, passionately seeks Him and personally desires God to be sole sole satisfaction of the deepest longings of his heart.
Condition for Experiencing a Hunger for God
There is one essential condition for experiencing a genuine hunger for God. A hunger for the one and only true God starts with a personal saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Without a true saving and living relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you cannot experience a sincere hunger for God. It's impossible to have a hunger for God without personal, intimate, saving, and experiential knowledge of Him. A person who doesn't know God cannot desire or want more of Him in his life.
The Holy Spirit is not only very careful about His choice of words in the writing of the Bible, but also about the order in which they are written. Please notice that before the Holy Spirit led David to express his hunger for God, He directed him to first and foremost confess his personal relationship with God. Under the direction of God's Spirit, David confidently claimed God as his own. We find this at the beginning of Psalm 63. "O God, You are my God" (Psalm 63:1a). You cannot make this claim with confidence and certainty unless you have a vital, vibrant, personal saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Hebrew simply says: "Elohim Eli Attah." This literally reads: God, my God, You." The words in themselves are simple and childlike, but they contain a world of meaning. "My God"-speaks of an intimate personal relationship with God. "My God"-speaks of an abiding treasure when all is gone. "My God"- reveals God as a sufficient resource in every crisis. David's personal relationship with God was vibrant. Not only that, he knew God as his abiding treasure and as one who is truly sufficient to handle every crisis in his life. Please be reminded of this: A true hunger for the true and living God starts with a genuine personal relationship with Him. In other words, if you are not a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you cannot experience a genuine hunger for God. You must first believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins on the basis of His sacrifice on the cross. It's only then you can begin to have a desire and longing for more of God in your life.
Characteristics of a Person Who Is Hungry for God
Having clearly stated the essential condition necessary for experiencing a hunger for God, I would now like us to look at the characteristics of a believer who is really desiring more of God Himself in his life. In other words, how do you recognize a person who is hungry for God? What are the marks that set a Christian apart as one who is hungry for more of God in his life? I would like us to look at David's life to answer these questions.
In Romans 15:4, the Bible says: "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Furthermore, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." This means that the Spirit of God wants to teach God's people certain spiritual lessons from the life of David, a man after God's own heart. David was not only a man after God's heart, but also a man who had a deep hunger for God. From his life, the Holy Spirit is eager to instruct and help us identify the characteristics of a believer who is really hungry for God. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will enable each one of us to sincerely examine our hearts to see whether or not we have the same hunger for God as David had. From David's life, the Spirit will present to us nine essential characteristics of a believer who is truly hungry for God.
1. A believer who has a hunger for God pursues Him with his entire being (Psalm 63:1b).
It is very humbling to notice David's passion for and pursuit of God, especially when we remember how cold we often are. The Bible's record of David's hot pursuit of God with his entire being is simply stated as: "I shall seek you earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You" (Psalm 63:1b). The Hebrew word translated "seek" (Hebrew: shachar) also means, "be up early at any task." It also means "search for with painstaking," or "seek diligently, eagerly, earnestly," or "seek with longing." It signifies earnest, importune seeking and inquiring. Also the word translated "earnestly" literally means "early." This means that David sought the Lord early- early in life and early everyday. And he sought Him with fervor that would not be denied. His very soul thirsted for the Person of God Himself. His flesh fainted, yearned, longed for God Himself. In other words, David's entire being, his spirit and his soul and his body, cried out for fellowship, communion, and a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Eternal God, whom he called Elohim.
Of course, David did not do this in his own strength and power. It was the Holy Spirit who generated and sustained this hunger and passionate pursuit of God in his heart. David simply responded to the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. 1 Samuel 16:13 tells us that when David was anointed in the presence of his brothers by the prophet Samuel, "the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward." In other words, the Holy Spirit was with David. So, as soon as the Spirit moved David to pursue God with his entire being, he was up early at that task, and did so eagerly and earnestly. Now please listen! The same Holy Spirit who was with David is not only with us, but also in us. But the question is: Are we responding to His gracious work to create a fresh longing and a deeper hunger for God Himself in our hearts? Today, I believe the Holy Spirit is willing to create a deeper desire for God in our hearts just as He did in the life of David. He grieves when we fail to respond to His wooing of us to desire more of God in our lives.
David was not the only one who had a hunger for God and pursued Him with his whole being. Psalm 42:1-2 tells that others, described as the sons of Korah, also had a hunger for God. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Please the next time you sing the song, "As the Deer Panteth for the Water," remember that it is a song that speaks of people who are really hungry for God. As you sing it, ask yourself if you really have a hunger for God that is characterized by passionately pursuing Him with your whole being. If not, do yourself a big favor, don't sing it religiously. You will be a hypocrite, a play-actor. Sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to create a fresh hunger for God in your heart. Then sing it with meaning and purpose.
2. A believer who is hungry for God uses every situation in his life to yearn for more of God (Psalm 63:1c).
The subscription of Psalm 63, which is the first verse in the Hebrew Bible says: "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah." Furthermore, Psalm 63:1c says that David was "in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
1 Samuel 22 is part of the background of Psalm 63. David was fleeing from danger. David had been serving King Saul in his palace. But an evil spirit had come upon King Saul. As a result, he was madly pursuing David to kill him. Saul wanted to do away with David since he saw him as a threat to his kingdom. That's what the enemy does best-to steal and kill and destroy. Also 1 Samuel 23:9-14 sheds more light on David's situation. There, the Bible says:
"Now David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him; so he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod here." Then David said, "O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account. "Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant."And the LORD said, "He will come down." Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you." Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit. David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand" 1 Samuel 23:9-14 (NASB).
David was on the run. He kept moving from place to place. Day after day, Saul and his men searched for him. They hunted him down. Dogging David's steps became Saul's main work as a king. These were therefore tough and trying times for young David. The only place he found some relief was in the desert of Judah. David found himself in a dry, weary, waterless land. I wonder if you've spent a day in a real dry and hot desert with no source of water. Certainly, it's not a place you would want to be for long. But David spent, not only a day, but days and weeks and months and years in the desert running away from Saul. Yet, David didn't spend his time grumbling and complaining like the Israelites did when they left Egypt to the Promised Land. In fact, it would have been easy for him to have a "Big Grumbling Party" with all the desert creatures in attendance, dancing to David's mournful and grumbling music. What a "Grand Party" it would have been in the wilderness of Judea!
However, David knew that such a "Grumbling Party" would be a great waste of his time. Not only that, he knew that such a party would have killed his appetite for God. Please listen! Your longing for God, your desire for more of God, your appetite for God, your thirst for more of God in your life is quenched when you spend your time grumbling about your circumstances. David didn't do that. Rather, moved by the Holy Spirit, he yearned and longed for more of God in his life despite his difficult circumstances. His longing was as intense as the thirst of a traveler in dry, weary, waterless land. In spite of all his difficulties and the hardships in his life, in the power of the Holy Spirit, David vigorously longed for more of God. What a challenge David's hunger for God is to me!
Personally, since I responded to God's call upon my life to enter into the ministry, I have had several difficult and trying times. In fact, I am currently facing some hard times. Yet, through God's help, I'm learning from David's experience to make the most of these trying times to yearn for more of God in my life. I don't know what is going on in your life right now. Are you in a "wilderness?" Are you in a difficult situation now? Are you facing hard times? Are you experiencing trying times in your life today? You can have a "Grumbling Party" and invite the desert creatures to dance to your mournful and murmuring music. But it will not benefit you spiritually. In fact, it will only kill your appetite for God. So please, don't waste your difficult and trying times. Use them to desire more of God in your life.
It would interest you to know that the Judean desert-the very place David longed for more of God in his life, is the same place the Lord Jesus also expressed His hunger for God by fasting for forty days and forty nights (see Matthew 4:1-11). In this regard, David was a Type of Christ.
3. A believer who has a hunger for God fixes his eyes on God Himself (Psalm 63:2) .
Verse 2, as well as the rest of this Psalm clearly tell us where David's eyes were fixed. They were focused on the Person of God Himself, not on his problems. The Holy Spirit trained David's eyes to be constantly looking at his Creator, not at his circumstances. David's eyes were set on his Savior, not on his situation. Let me first show us from the rest of this Psalm how David kept his eyes on God. There is one word that is repeated 11 times in Psalm 63. The word is "You." For those of you who are using the Old King James, it is "Thee." It is used 11 times in this short psalm. It is as if David was having a face-to-face conversation with God. Before Hebrews 12:2 was written, David had practiced it in his life-"fixing our eyes or looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."
In verse 2, David, through the Spirit, recalled those times he worshiped at the sanctuary, enjoying and experiencing the presence of God. "Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory." The "sanctuary" in this verse does not refer to the temple, but the temporary tent for the ark of the covenant (see 2 Samuel 6:17). There, the Bible says, David had seen God. The word translated "seen" (Hebrew: chazah) also means "to behold," or "to have a vision," or "to gaze at," or "to look." David had a vision of God. Now his soul cannot be satisfied with anything less than a new and fresh unveiling of the Lord in splendor and might. He longs to be brought out of the wilderness, not that he might see friends and family again and be restored to the pleasures of the palace of King Saul, but that he might have access to the sanctuary, not to see the priests and the ceremony of worship, but to see God's power and God's glory. In other words, the purpose of his gazing upon God is to gain further insight into the nature and character of God, so far as it is revealed to him. Such longing after God, which is now all the more intense in the wilderness far removed from the sanctuary, filled and deepen his hunger for God. David was not interested in seeing man's power and man's glory. Because his eyes were fixed on God, his desire was on beholding God's power and glory. The more our eyes are focused on God, the less we will desire to see the things of men.
Within and outside the church, man can put on an impressive show that is powerful and splendid. We are seeing that everyday. David knew that well. But because his eyes are gazing at God, he only wanted to see, to enjoy, and to experience the power of God Almighty and the glory of the God of glory. This really puts me to shame. There was a time in my life when I went to church and left disappointed just because I didn't see a certain friend of mine in the service. I wasn't only disappointed, but I also missed out on worshiping God. Why? I was busy looking around the sanctuary to see if my friend was sitting somewhere else. This happened to me on several occasions. So, one day, God decided it was time to have a heart-to-heart talk with me. He said, "I've observed that whenever your friend is not in church, you become so distracted and no longer concentrate on worshiping Me with all your heart and with all your soul. Is that not right? Do you come here to see Me or do you come here to see someone else? Where is your focus? Who are you fixing your eyes on?" It was a gentle and loving rebuke that redirected my focus on Him.
On whom would you say your eyes are fixed? On God or on someone or something else? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to train your eyes to be focused on Your Savior? Or are you refusing His training and constantly fixing your eyes on your situations? Believers who are hungry for more of God in their lives submits to the Spirit's training of fixing their eyes on God Himself. That was the case in David's life. God was his vision. And He must be our vision as we hunger for more of Him in our lives. Our prayer should be, "Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart."
4. A Christian who is longing for more God commits himself to praising and blessing God (Psalm 63:3-4).
Though David was hunted down like a wild dog, though David was hurting badly, though times were hard for David; yet he wholeheartedly committed himself to praising and blessing the Person of God. David refused to hold a "Pity Party" for himself. Rather, he had a "Private Party" of praising God. David refused to spend his energy on blaming God or others for the hard times in his life. Rather, he spent his energy on blessing the Lord. But how easy it is for us to blame God or others for the difficult times in our lives! That reveals a lot about our hunger for God. When we spend our time playing the blame game-blaming God or others, it clearly shows that we don't have a hunger for Him.
David's hunger for God was fueled by his committed to praise and bless God. Observe his commitment in praising and blessing God. The Bible says: "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name" (Psalm 63:3-4). The word used for "praise" (Hebrew: Shabach) is different from the common Hebrew word for "praise" (Halal). "Shabach" actually means "to address in a loud tone;" or "to be loud," or "to glorify or to praise God for His mighty acts and deeds." Because David understood that God's lovingkindness (that is, His loyal love) is better than anything life can afford (that is, all the comforts of life, life in its best estate, long life and prosperity), he gave himself to the loud and high praises of God.
This reminds me of the story of "the Grateful Samaritan." He was one of the ten lepers healed by the Lord Jesus. After earnestly imploring our Lord to heal them, He had compassion on them and commanded them to go and show themselves to the priests. While they were obeying the Lord's command, they were miraculous healed. Realizing that he had been cleansed, "the Grateful Samaritan" returned praising God. The Bible says: "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan" Luke 17:15-16 (NIV).
Like the Samaritan, David wasn't shy about expressing his praise to God. He did it with all his heart, lifting up his voice and his hands to God. "God, as long as I have life, am going to praise and bless You. God, I'm going to count my blessings and name them one by one before You, even while here in this dry, weary, and waterless land. My commitment to praising You is for a lifetime."
The hymn writer Johnston Oatman Jr. says in the first stanza of his well-known hymn, "Count Your Blessings": "When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." This was exactly what David did setting an example for all of us. Those who are hungry for God Himself, often find it a great joy of their heart, a great delight of their soul, a privilege, an honor, to come before Him to count their blessings. As they do so, they cannot help but praise and bless their God, no matter their circumstances. They are simply committed to praising and blessing Him.
2 Samuel 22 is an example of David's praise to God. You cannot read it and not be challenged to examine your own commitment to praising and blessing God. The first four verses say a lot about David's commitment to blessing God.
"And David spoke the words of this song to the LORD in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence. "I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies" 2 Samuel 22:1-4 (NASB).
For David, God alone is worthy of praise. As such, praise poured out of his heart to God. In this situation, David was pouring out praise to God after He delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. But David had learned to praise God while going through difficult times. While times were hard and life was harsh for David, he wholeheartedly devoted himself to praising and blessing the Person of God, Elohim.
David's heart commitment to praising and blessing the Lord even in difficult and trying times calls to mind Job, Paul and Silas. When Job lost everything in one day-all his children, all his cattle, all his camels etc., the Bible says: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there.' The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. Through all this, Job did not sin nor blame God" (Job 1:20-22).
Paul and Silas followed God's leading to take the Gospel to Macedonia. While doing exactly what God had called them to do, they ended up in a Philippian Jail, after they had been beaten. But the Bible says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God" (Acts 16:25). Now, what's the point of all this? Here is the point. The believer who is earnestly longing for more of God commits himself to praising and blessing Him, no matter his circumstances. Someone has said, "Our lips are best employed in praising the Lord. All of life is not too long to spend in blessing God."
5. A believer who is hungry for God finds the satisfaction of his sole in God and God alone (Psalm 63:5).
David's satisfaction in life was in God Himself. The Bible vividly describes his satisfaction in God with these powerful words: "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips" (Psalm 63:5). "Marrow and fatness" simply means the richest of foods. Earlier the Bible says of David; "My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You" (Psalm 63:1b). But now it says, "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness." Even though David was suffering bodily hunger in the desert, yet being so occupied with God, made him so satisfied and cheerful like the fattest and most delicious meal would do. David felt so satisfied in his inmost being just as after a feast of the most nourishing meal. Notice the Bible didn't say, "My soul is satisfied in the richest of foods," but "as with the richest of foods." The Bible is simply describing the satisfaction of David's soul in God by comparing it to someone who is enjoying the richest and most delicious food, or the best banquet in the most unlikeliest of places-a desert, a wilderness. No banquet is like sweet and sacred communion with God. It is in Him we find the deepest satisfaction for our soul. David's soul was abundantly and richly satisfied in God. David knew that God satisfies us best not with His gifts but with Himself. As a result, David didn't seek satisfaction for his soul in power, prestige, prosperity, popularity. He knew that the thirsting soul is satisfied in God and God alone.
We all know that in our heads. But often our hearts long for soul-satisfaction elsewhere. We think that if we land our dream job, if we buy our dream home or our dream car, if we enter our dream marriage, if we go on our dream date, or go to our dream vacation or to our dream college, then we will really have soul-satisfaction. And so we toil hard to seek satisfaction in these things. But in the end, our souls are not satisfied and our hunger for God is diluted.
The Lord Jesus Himself taught He and He alone satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. To the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, He said: "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14). To the Jews at the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, He declared; "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh" (John 6:51). In other words, the Lord Jesus came not only to seek and save the lost, but also to satisfy. He is our Savior and the true satisfaction of our soul.
At one point in my life, my personal ambition in life was to be a professor in civil engineering. God gave me the brains for studying in this field of engineering and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought civil engineering is where I would for sure find satisfaction in life. So I poured my energy and time into it. However, God brought me to a crossroads. I was faced with a choice-God or engineering as my satisfaction in life. He asked me: "Would you be satisfied in Me without the fulfillment of your dream to be a professor in civil engineering?" It took me two full years of struggle and resistance to His will until I finally came to the point when I said, "Yes" to God with all my heart. From that point on, the words in Philippians 3:8-11 became very personal and precious to me.
"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" Philippians 3:8-11 (NASB).
Please listen! You cannot hunger for more of God in your life if you are holding onto the things of this world to be your satisfaction in life. You must consider them all rubbish in order to gain Christ and be satisfied in Him. It has been said that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." That was true of David's life, a man who had such a hunger for God and found satisfaction in Him alone.
John Piper writes in his book, "A Hunger for God":
"The strongest, the most mature Christians I have ever met are the hungriest for God. It might seem that those who eat most would be least hungry. But that's not the way it works with an inexhaustible fountain, and an infinite feast, and a glorious Lord. When you take your stand on the finished work of Christ, and begin to drink at the River of life and eat the Bread of Heaven, and know that you have found the end of all your longings, you only get hungrier for God. The more satisfaction you experience from God, while still in the world, the greater your desire for the next. The more deeply you walk with Christ, the hungrier you get for Christ...the more homesick you get for heaven...the more you want "all the fullness of God"...the more you want the Bridegroom to come again...the more you want the Church revived and purified with the beauty of Jesus...the more you want to see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ penetrate the darkness of all the unreached peoples of the world...If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There an appetite for God. And it can be awakened." - John Piper: A Hunger for God.
Is Jesus the supreme hunger of your heart? Is He the One you are looking to satisfy your deepest longings? Is your appetite for Him awakened? Or have you stuffed your soul with the material things of this world till there is no room for an increasing longing for Christ? May Jesus Christ awaken our appetite for Him that we may seek Him to be our true soul-satisfaction in this life!
6. A person who is desiring more of God is serious about meditating on Him (Psalm 63:6).
David expressed his hunger for God in meditating on Him. This is how the Bible describes David's practice of the discipline of meditation: "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches" (Psalm 63:6). The point here is that God was in all of David's thoughts. God was his best thought by day or by night. This is the opposite of the wicked man's heart attitude described in Psalm 10:4: "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God" (NIV).
Desiring more of God in his life, David regularly remembered God and meditated on Him. David's remembrance of God is no casual or passing remembrance. The Bible is saying that his remembrance of God so holds David that he passes a great part of the night absorbed and consumed in meditation on God. Notice the verbs "remember" and "mediate" are in the present tense. This means that remembering God and meditating on Him were not a one time activity for David. Rather, he did them continuously, daily, and regularly.
Please I want you to take note of this: "I remember You on my bed." Where was David at this point in his life? He was in the desert. He was in the Judean wilderness. He was running away from Saul, wandering and moving from place to place. He hardly settled in a single place for long. But wherever David went, he brought with him his relationship with God, remembering Him and pondering on Him. David was not sleeping on a comfortable and cozy king's size bed. Being hunted by Saul, David rarely lay two nights together in the same bed. But wherever he lay, like Jacob, upon the cold ground and with a stone for a pillow, good thoughts of God lay down with him. David was constantly on the run, with no time to rest and refresh himself. Certainly, care and concern for his life kept him awake many nights and perhaps made him weary at nights. But then, he comforted himself with the thoughts of God, not thoughts of his problems.
Why did David do that? Here is why I believe David spent the nights remembering and meditating on God. David knew that God is far bigger than the biggest problem in his life. He was very convinced that Elohim, was far greater than the greatest difficulty in his life. May I say to us, if we are not convinced in our hearts that our God is far bigger than our biggest problem and far greater than our greatest difficulty, we will not devote our minds to remembering and meditating on Him. We will become so preoccupied with the thoughts of our problems and difficulties till we become paralyze with fear. That's the bottom line.
Some nights, as Psalm 6:6 tells us, David wept. But as soon as he wiped away his tears, he directed his thoughts unto God-pondering His goodness, greatness, graciousness, glory; considering His person, power, perfection, presence and protection; recalling His faithfulness, forgiveness, favor and fullness; musing on His mercy, majesty, and might; thinking on His strength, salvation, shield and satisfaction. In other words, David did not waste the night. Being so passionately hungry for God, he redeemed even the sleepless hours of the night by remembering God and thinking of Him.
Actually, the Old Testament divided the night into three watches. The night watch for the night guard of soldiers and shepherds from sunset to 10 p.m. is the first watch or the beginning of the night watch (see Lamentations 2:19). The middle watch is from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It is also called the second watch (see Judges 7:19). The morning watch is from 2. a.m. to sunrise. It is also called the third watch (see Exodus 14:24). During these night watches, David remembered God and thought of Him.
When you are having trouble sleeping at night, what do you do? Do you turn on the TV? Or do you turn your thoughts unto God, remembering Him, thinking of Him, pondering Him, musing on Him, meditating on Him? Please take note of this: The seriousness you with which you practice the discipline of meditation determines how hungry you are for more of God in your life. Those who are really hungry for God takes meditation seriously.
7. A Christian who is hungering after God always expresses confidence in God's help (Psalm 63:7).
The first thing that came out of David's meditation on God is expressing his confidence in the help of God Almighty. The Bible describes David's confidence in God's help in these colorful words: "For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy" (Psalm 63:7). Speaking as if he was having a face-to-face conversation with God, David says in the Holy Spirit, "You have been my help." In other words, when other helps and helpers failed me, Elohim, You have not only been my helper, but my help." David was simply setting up his "Ebenezer"-"Thus far Lord You have helped me" (cf. 1 Samuel 7:12).
David seems to say: "God, I know You will continue to help me through all my trials, troubles, hardships, and difficulties. I know that because I'm safe and secure under Your protective wings. I'm sheltered under Your wings and under Your wings, I will experience Your power and tender care. O God, what a help You have been to me-who can ever measure all that You have done for me? O Lord, when I think that You are my help and that am safe under Your loving embrace, I cannot help but sing for joy."
David learned so early in life to look for and rely on God's mighty help. In facing the Philistine Giant, Goliath, David was discouraged by King Saul from getting into a fight with the giant simply because the odds were stark up high against him. But David recalled God's help in his life in overcoming bears and lions and trusted that God's help would bring him victory over the Philistine giant.
"But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine " 1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NASB).
The hard times in David's life taught him a valuable lesson-that is, God and Him alone is the true source of ready and reliable help. He learned that God is the source of available and abundant help. He learned that God's help is sure and steadfast. In other words, he could count on God's help in his life. He believed with all his heart that God is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). He was convinced in his heart that God's help, not man's help, is what makes a major difference in our lives and circumstances. Please listen to David's own personal testimonies about the difference God's help made in his life. "O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we shall do valiantly, and it is He who will tread down our adversaries" (Psalm 60:11-12). "You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your help makes me great" (2 Samuel 22:36).
David wholeheartedly agrees with the psalmist who said in the Holy Spirit: "I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth" Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV). His heart is also in agreement with the inspired words of the psalmist in Psalm 115:9-11: "O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield." Again David's soul rejoices in the testimony of the psalmist's declaration in Psalm 146:3-6: "Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever."
Hard times, difficult and distressful times, tough and trying times, will come upon each one of us at some point in life. They will come whether we are prepared for them or not. They will not give us a call before they come upon us. They will not send us a text message before they descend upon us. The Lord Jesus Himself taught: "In this world you will have trouble" John 16:33b (NIV). But the question is: How do we respond? Do we respond trusting in our feeble and failing strength or trusting in the available and abundant help of the Almighty God? Can you really say to God, "You are my help" if you do not look to Him for help and give Him the chance to help you? Can you? You can't.
David was humble enough to look to God for help and express his confidence in God's help. He was not ashamed to say to God, "God, I really need Your help or I can't make it through this trying situation in my life. Please, send me Your help. I'm counting on it" But what about us? Do we confidently count of God's help? Do we constantly look to Him for help in our trying times? Do we consistently confess to God that we really need His help or else we can't make it through the hard times in life?
A wise Bible Teacher once said, "Sooner or later God will bring self-sufficient people to the place where they have no resource but Him-no strength, no answers, nothing but Him. Without God's help, they are sunk." He then told of a despairing man who confessed to his pastor, "My life is really in bad shape." "How bad?" the pastor inquired. Burying his head in his hands, he moaned, "I'll tell you how bad-all I've got left is God." The pastor's face lit up. "I'm happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory." This was the lesson David learned and practiced in his life. He knew that God was more than enough for great victories in his life. As such, in his hunger for God, he expressed confidence in God's help in every single situation in his life.
Please listen! Difficult times deepen our dependence on a God who is always dependable. David learned that and so did Paul, who was led by the Spirit to pass on this valuable lesson to the believers at Corinth.
"For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many" 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NASB).
Paul, like David, not only relied on God's help, but was also had an abiding assurance of His help. Similarly, those who are hungry for God, always depend on Him for help and are always confident in His help, not man's. These know that it is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD Almighty that the mighty mountains are made plain and leveled in their lives (see Zechariah 4:6-7).
Believers who express their hunger for God by depending fully on His help can joyfully sing the hymn "Our Great Savior" by J. Wilbur Chapman, especially the third stanza, which says:
"Jesus! what a Help in sorrow! While the billows o'er me roll, Even when my heart is breaking, He, my comfort, helps my soul." Refrain: "Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end."
8. A believer who is yearning for more of God follows hard after Him (Psalm 63:8).
David's hunger for God is also expressed in following hard after God. The Bible gives us a vivid description of David's chase after God. "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me" (Psalm 63:8).
My mother once told me that when I was a little kid, I used to cling to her, holding tight unto her dress and following her wherever she went. She said to me, "You did that because you didn't want to lose sight of me." Mothers are wonderful!
The Bible describes David here as one holding tightly unto God, clinging to Him, or following hard after Him. Actually, the Hebrew word translated "cling" (davaq), also means "remain with," or "keep close to someone," or "pursue closely," or "cleave to." This speaks of a very earnest desire and vigorous attempt to keep up fellowship and communion with God, reaching towards God Himself as our prize. David is seen here following God closely after God, as God's right hand holds him fast, not letting him go.
To follow hard after God is to follow so closely as those who are afraid of losing sight of Him. When you are walking with someone in a large crowd, it is important to do everything to keep that person in view or else you risk losing sight of him in the mass of humanity. That's a simple way to illustrate following hard after God. To follow hard after God is to keep close to Him, is to remain with Him as those who long to be with Him. Would you say that you are keeping so close to God? Are you pursuing Him closely? Are you remaining with Him and not letting Him out of your sight? If so, you are expressing genuine hunger for God.
Like David, Paul also followed hard after God. The Bible gives us a graphic picture of Paul's passionate pursuit of God in Philippians 3:12-14.
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Please notice that as David followed hard after God, God's right hand was upholding him. David understood that God was supporting and sustaining him in his holy desires and pursuits, that he might not grow weary in well-doing. God upheld David in his afflictions, that he might not sink under them. This is so important for us to understand. Anyone who follows hard after God would soon fail and faint if God's right hand did not uphold him. Why? It is God who strengthens, sustains, and supports us in our following hard after Him. None of us has in himself what it takes to hunger and desire for more of God without falling by the wayside. It is God who encourages us to press on after Him. It is by the power of God (that is, His right hand) that we are kept from failing and falling. It is God who preserves us from dangers, seen and unseen, and empowers us toward the mark for the prize. In other words, God is the One who gives us a hunger for Him and enables us to keep desiring for more of Him in our lives. To God be the glory great things He has done and will do!
9. The one who is hungry for God lets God fights his battles for him (Psalm 63:9-11).
David learned early in life that the battle belongs to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 17:45-47). As such, David lets God fights his battles. This is what the Bible vividly describes in Psalm 63:9-11.
"But those who seek my life to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes. But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped."
Satan knows how to kill our hunger for God. He deceives us into thinking that we can accomplish a great deal in our own strength. So he urges us to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God and letting Him fight our battles. David did not buy into the deceptive plan of the devil, the great deceiver. David wasn't fooled by the trickery of Satan. David didn't waste his energy, time, and resources strategizing a counterattack against his enemies. Rather, through the help of the Holy Spirit, he did something simple and smart. What was that? He committed his battles to God to fight for him. He knew that God had assumed full responsibility for his life as long as he was following hard after Him.
Please notice carefully that the Bible did not say of David, "I will fight and destroy those who are seeking my life." Rather, it says: "They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes." Who is going to deliver David's enemies over to the power of the sword? God. He is fighting David's battles. The only thing the Bible shows David doing here is rejoicing in God. David had confidence in God's ability to fight his battles. He knew that whenever God engages in a battle, victory is assured. He never loses a fight. He has a clean record of "Billion Wins and Zero Loss." His record sheet is all "W." With that understanding, David committed his battles to God and God assumed full responsibility for the battles in David's life.
In effect David is saying: "My God, since You have taken full responsibility for dealing with those who are seeking to harm and destroy my life, then, through the help of Your Spirit, I'm going to spend my energy and time in seeking You earnestly, thirsting for You, longing for more of You in my life, desiring for more and more of You, ever more praising You, blessing You, meditating on You, following hard after You and rejoicing in You." By letting God fight his battles, David had more time to devote to pursuing God. Therefore, his hunger for God kept growing.
God has been teaching me from David's life that if I want my hunger for Him to increase, then I should let Him fight my battles, so I could give myself wholeheartedly to following hard after Him. God has also shown me that whenever I take matters in my own hands to fight my battles, not only do I make a mess for Him to clean up, but I do a really bad job and lose badly. Those who are hungry for more of God in their lives, don't waste their time and efforts fighting their own battles. They let God fight their battles so they could devote themselves to desiring more of God in their lives.
There are going to be battles in all of our lives. For some, your battle is financial. Times are hard financially for you and your family. The bills keep piling up while your income has dwindled or dried out. The creditors are calling. You dread their calls and letters. For others, your battle is physical. The news from the doctor is not encouraging. Still for some, your battle is emotional. Peer pressure is stressing you out and leading you on the wrong path. Your job is demanding more and more of you and draining you emotionally. Still for others, your battle is relational. Your marriage, or your relationship with your children, parents and other family members is stressed and going soar. And for some, your battle is spiritual. The devil who has come to steal and kill and destroy is attacking you through all kinds of means. But the question is: Are you letting God fight your battles for you or are you fighting them yourself in your own feeble and failing strength? Remember, you cannot really say or sing "the Battle belongs to the Lord" if you are not letting Him fight your battles.
While attending a retreat in Colorado Springs a few years ago, I heard an interesting story of an elderly Christian man who distributes food to the homeless. He felt called to this ministry and trusts God to provide for the ministry. On several occasions, this believing brother faced great needs-a lot of homeless people to serve but scanty supplies. Whenever such an occasion arises, he prays: "God how are You going to get Yourself out of this?" The elderly believing brother gives the battle over to God to fight. And almost always, He comes through for him. He provides enough to feed the homeless whom God leads him to serve. He has learned the valuable lesson of letting God fight his battles.
David was confident of the defeat and downfall of his enemies, not because he was able to take them on and destroy them, but because he trusted in the God of power and glory to fight his battles. God never failed David for trusting Him to fight his battles. Those who were determined to do away with David died a violent death and suffered the disgrace of not having a decent burial. Their mouths were literally silenced.
The God who fought David's battles, the God who never failed David, is the God who wants to fight your battles, if you let Him. Would you let Him? Would you turn over the battles in your life to Him? Would you trust Him with your battles, whatever they are? Remember, the one who is hungry for God lets God fights his battles for him and so has more time to devote to chasing hard after God.
Are you hungry for more of God in your life? Is your appetite for God awakened? I did not ask: Are you excited about youth group? I did not ask: Are enjoying going to church on Sundays? I did not ask: Are you happy about the Wednesday Night Family Program in your church? I did not ask: Are you having a great time at your Sunday School. Please, don't get me wrong. These are good things. But the critical question before us is: Is God Himself, revealed in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme hunger of your heart? How would you describe your soul's appetite for the Person of God Himself? Do you have a hunger for God that is contagious and constantly growing?
John Piper writes:
"The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things... When God is the supreme hunger of our hearts He will also be supreme in everything."-John Piper: A Hunger for God.
If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, let me once again remind you that the only Person who can both save you from your sins and satisfy the deepest longings of your heart is Jesus Christ. He has the ability as well as the willingness to save and satisfy you. The Bible simply says: "Call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved" (Romans 10:13).
To those of you who are believers, I want to remind you that God is giving you an opportunity to ask Him to create a fresh and deeper hunger for Him in your heart. Turn over your battles to Him and trust Him to fight them for you. Whatever your battles, whatever your circumstances, make the most of them by desiring Him and He will fulfill the desires of your heart. He will never fail you.
May your prayer also be:
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes. But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped" (Psalm 63).
We Proclaim Jesus.