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A Love Better than Life

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2021 7:00 am

A Love Better than Life

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 7, 2021 7:00 am

Do you remember a time when you loved a person so deeply that it hurt to be away from him or her? This week on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice we are studying a love song--but not a love song to another person. Psalm 63 is a love song to God.

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Do you remember a time when you love the person so deeply that it hurt to be away from them this week on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce. We are studying a love song, but not a love song to another person.

Psalm 63 is a love song to God and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically David separation from Jerusalem and the Temple costing to reflect on how much God really meant to him, that God's love is better than life with God's love is truly better than life. Why do we spend so much time trying to find satisfaction in other places.

As Dr. Boyce points out in today's message God's love will satisfy us, even in the midst of our biggest problems. David learned that lesson as he fled from his own son Absalom let's join Dr. Boyce as he explores Psalm 63 and shows us David's thirst for the living God number of years ago I heard a very profound statement that went like this.

The entire world can be divided into two categories of people. Those who divide the world into two categories of people in those adult way of making fun of some of our divisions, but that the risk of oversimplifying. I'd like to do that as I begin our study of Psalm 63 are three types of people in any Christian gathering there are those who are followers of Jesus Christ in name only, which is a way of saying that Christians in name only and are really believers, like the five foolish virgins who thought they are in good standing with the bridegroom, but when it came, discovered they didn't really know him and he didn't know that second category is people who follow after God and Jesus Christ would do so at a distance, like Peter, at the occasion of Christ's arrest. He was following that he was following at a distance and he got in trouble as soon as somebody asked him whether he was really a follower of the Nazarene are not suddenly panicked and he denied that even knew James as a matter fact even dinner with those in cursing, which is the final category and that is the category of those who follow hard after God and do it with all their heart is an old Scottish commentator's name is Murdock Campbell, who has written a very brief study of the Psalms, which is not terribly helpful to me because it's so brief but time to time I find things in it and he does speak of people in this last category in these terms. They are those who in the storm and sunshine cleaving to God and enjoy daily communion with him, one God, and they want him intensely because they have learned.

Sometimes because of their experience with God. Sometimes because of their contrary experience of the vanity of human life that only God can satisfy and so they long for God and they wanted with all our heart charm, with all their soul and with all your mind and all their strength. Now David was in the last category. It was not a perfect man, as we well know, had many failures and some large wings but he was a man who hunger and thirst after God and when we read the Psalms and have his name affixed to them. In most cases we discover that we see them doing it. Even in difficult circumstances. Now that's a case of Psalm 63 is identified as a Psalm of David. Title and that title also indicates that it was written when he was in the desert of Judah are only two periods in David's life when he was in the desert of Judah first was when he was running away from King Saul.

Early in his life and career and then the second was when he was forced to flee Jerusalem from his son Absalom was trying to push him out and take over the throne. In this case. Psalm has to have been written during that latter. That is when he was fleeing from Absalom, because late in the Psalm in verse 11, David refers to himself as the king, and he wasn't the king in the earlier incident.

So right away. We gapped and historical setting for the Psalm throws a great deal of light on how the story is told in second Samuel verses 15 and 19, Absalom was only one of David's many sons and he was estranged from his father because he thought his father had mistreated him. He plotted to take over the kingdom himself.

He spent a lot of time doing that he spent four years. First of all, trying to win the favor of the people he did it by sitting in the gate.

David was very busy and so he gave off the impression that David really didn't care about the people because if he did course, he would take time to hear all their many complaints and settle their disputes in the Absalom look upon it himself to do that instead of his father while he was making it look like his father was a failure when he thought he was ready, gathered his forces in Hebron and he set up a rival kingdom. David had to flee Jerusalem. He was a frayed. Suddenly the capital would be over Ron. He and his followers would be killed, and so we left very suddenly went down into the kindred Valley and then up over the mountains and into the Judean wilderness style. It would've been the part of wisdom for Absalom to have attacked his father right away. David was still disorganized that David was nevertheless the king God's anointed and so God put it into Absalom's mind. Those were close to him to listen.

The counselors were actually gave him bad advice to sets of counselors. One said, gotta pursue David right away.

While he's weak and disorganized and attack them now. If you wait is going to gain his strength. The other one said. Now David is a great soldier goes she has with them or experience soldiers wait and collect your own forces. Then when you're ready in your own time. Rowan attack David listen to that course in the interval.

David did manage to muster his forces and finally when there was a great battle, the Army of Absalom was defeated 20,000 people died in that battle and Absalom was one of the in the route he was trying to get away with writing quickly through a forest. He got caught in the tree and he couldn't get away and Joab himself commander. David's forces found in their killed by thrusting a guard through his heart and so story ends.

Now that's. During which the Psalm was written and it gives interesting background to lead and throws light on some of the expressions that are used like a better than life as long as I live, those who seek my life, and so on and it reminds us that David's life was literally in danger at the hands of his son Absalom is not an ivory tower kind of salt to sonata a professor sitting on the quiet living room somewhere composing theological reflections on the nature of God.

This is a man in danger of his life.

Anyone who is reading the Psalm autoloader that it also helps us appreciate the emotional passion of the song David is separated from the sanctuary in Jerusalem. He said to flee the love Jerusalem I love the temple of God, even the sanctuary there before the final temple was built and he just rejoiced being there worshiping God and that site now. He was far away and he's in the desert and his heart is longing for those earlier days, and above all is longing for God. So what you have expressed in the Psalm is almost a love song for God, especially David says things like this myself first for you.

My body longs for you great physical urgency you see in that kind of passion.

Modern commentators Derek Kidner, who is on the commentary for inter-varsity says there may be other songs that equal this outpouring of devotion. But there are few, if any, that surpass it, is what older commentator says JJ Stewart Perrone so all the Spurgeon quotes him. This is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and touching the Psalms in the whole Psalter. I was similar in his longing to God to some other Psalms that might occur together. Psalms that are called the Psalms that is the sons of Cora who was destroyed in the wilderness because of his rebellion against Moses, and they often have a great longing for God. Psalm 42 is an obvious example Psalm 43 is another. It's not a title that is linked closely to 42. Brent also Psalm 84. So if you want emotional similarity in the Psalms. If you're in the study Psalms that fit kind of one were studying.

Now that's what you find is also worth pointing out that in tone and background Psalm 6361 62 and 64 go together so you can't have a little block of Psalms here and since we know now the historical setting. Psalm 63. This perhaps rose background on the setting of the other Psalms as well, we outline it well. There are various ways of outlining the various verses of the Psalm and are found in the various commentators, many of them different, but the new international version. It seems to me is probably on the right track, at least in this sets verse one off by itself, because that verse expresses the longing of David's soul, for God, and it sets the emotional tone for the entire small after this it goes on to show how David's longing for God has been satisfied in the past is currently being satisfied even though is there in the wilderness will certainly be satisfied in the future. Now verse is a wonderful expression of the very heart of religion is lame.

What he saying here is in the wilderness of Judah is one of the most inhospitable regions on earth.

The barren land that he uses that physical condition as a poetic background for what he is feeling in his heart being separated from God. He saying being separated from God as I seem to be because I'm cut off for Jerusalem is just like being in the desert in the desert. Your body is longing for water that you might not die and he saying that's the way I feel I am longing for the presence of God that I might not die, but live spiritually. This intense longing for God almost a physical appetite for God is something that CS Lewis noted wrote about very well in that little book reflections on the Psalms.

He says we don't have much of that today. But the ancients did and certainly the ancient Jews did you find it in the Psalter we just read your paragraph from CS Lewis. These poets knew far less reason than we for loving God, they did not know that he offered them eternal joy, still less that he would die to win it for them as I didn't know yet about Jesus Christ and his coming yet they express a longing for him for his mere presence which comes only to the best Christians or to Christians in their best moments. I long to live.

All their days in the temple so that they may constantly see the fair beauty of the Lord there longing to go up to Jerusalem and appear before the presence of God is like a physical first Jerusalem is presence flashes out in perfect beauty. Lacking an encounter within their souls are parched like waterless countryside and there he refers to Psalm 63 verse two and that is true is sensitive to read the Psalms and yet we read it we have to say how very little of that exist today. Lewis is alluding to it but we notice it as well. You don't notice it in others, you notice it in your own heart. Too many office have that kind of longing for God that almost physical longing for his presence. We desire to be with him.

If we did it would be in church more often we read our Bible more often we pray more fervently, and if you know your heart you know we all have difficulties in each of those areas is true that that is probably the chief reason for the weakness of the contemporary church that what makes even evangelical religion so hollow in our day.

We have money we think we have influence the building and we would have numbers yet we are spiritually hollow because we really do not long after God.

Therefore, we don't really know God very well by one more comment about verse one before we go on to the rest stop at the firm seek. There is an unusual verb and related to the Hebrew noun for the dawn that is the rising of the sun and because of that relationship can be translated into different ways. It can mean to seek early. That is, with the dawn or in the dawn's early light or it can mean to seek earnestly now.

If you have a King James Bible you know they took the former meaning seek the Lord early early will I seek the and if you have the new international version. You know that the new international version prefers the second.

I think probably right ideas, not early earnestly, but whether you take it one way or the other you get the idea. This is not passive religion, listens heart religion, longing after God, the person who seeks God should seek him early and earnestly suggest if you can't because of your schedule seek God. Early in the morning. Make sure you seek him earnestly you have trouble seeking him earnestly work on seeking him early and best of all, seeking him early and earnestly, which undoubtedly is what David did best way of seeking God's face as the personal Bible study and meditation about what you study and by about prayer.

Now thousand years after David wrote these words Lord Jesus Christ. One of David's descendents.

The greatest descendent said this, he said, I ask and it will be given to you seek and you will find knock and it will be opened unto you words. It's a promise, and if we apply that to seeking God the promises that if we seek him will find that my baby didn't know those words specifically had no way of knowing only when spoken to, later, but he knew the meaning of the words he knew what they contained. Because what you find from this point on in the Psalm is this description of how having sought after God. He really did find them different ways you can study these verses referring now to verses two through eight middle portion of the Psalm one way you can look at them is referring to God's past is present, then his future satisfying abatement.

Another where you look at them temporally is the past.

Verse two I have seen you in the sanctuary of the elder Gloria's looking back to the time he was in Jerusalem. It was the memory of those joyful moments that made his present circumstances so painful. Or how about the present verse three. Your love is better than life of present tense.

Verse six on my bed.

I remember you I think of you through the watches of the night or verse seven. You are my help or verse eight. Your right hand upholds me by saying is that even though he is cut off from God's presence in Jerusalem, and the worship there at the temple, God is not cut himself off from David Spurgeon at a neat little comment at this point.

He said there was no desert in his heart, even though there was a desert all around. That's his present experience God satisfying and then there's the future. Verse five. My soul will be satisfied is with the richest of foods with singing lips. My mouth will praise you because God is the same, and because God doesn't change be satisfied David in the past and was satisfying in the present he would satisfy them in the future to look at it in terms of the past, present and the future is another way we can look at it you can look at it in terms of how David praises God. One of the older commentators one greatly influenced by the Puritans domiciled pain sees David doing this in seven ways in these verses is using the King James translation so doesn't exactly parallel to the text. Most of us have.

But here's what he says. First, he extols loving kindness of God with his lips.

Verse three my lips will praise you.

Secondly, with his tongue.

Verse four of us will I bless the while I live. Thirdly, with his hands. I will lift up my hands in my name.

Fourthly, with his will.

Verse five, my soul shall be satisfied.

As with marrow and fatness Italy with his mouth, and my mouth shall crazily with joyful lips sexily with his memory verse six when I remember the up on my bed and seventh and last with intellect and meditate on the in the night watches out you handle the verses in that way, they become Lotta means of exploring the unchangeable character of God is what happens if you look at it past, present and future, but rather they become a means of studying how human being and how all the parts of a human being can be marshaled in God's service and price so they become a study in human psychology, human religious psychology in the best sense is no accident. Of course it's a Puritan who develops it that way. The Puritans were very conscious of the emotions the spiritual emotions of the child of God, and they spoke to that them so on. And that's what this man is doing now. Let me suggest another way of looking at it and what I want to suggest is that we first of all, see David's satisfaction in God is like. These verses are about. That's the general idea and then to results that flow from it. Personally satisfied with God now is certainly the main points. Verse one begins by saying is longing for God in the middle portion of the soul says God does not disappoint as longing longing for God and so got answers and that's close to him and he is satisfied in God is like and speak as he does of God's past, present and future satisfaction is also why he speaks of God's love being better than life verse three interesting verse because it takes two ideas, both of which are important.

I compare someone ideas life life is important we evaluate we don't want to lose it, but will do almost anything to say their life is why when your mug on the street you give up your wallet rather than getting shot to give up your money than lose your life.

Or, again, if you're sick and you require an operation or some painful medical procedure.

You'll go through that painful as it may be, rather than die submit to the amputation of a limb if that's necessary. Rather than die.

We value life so no question about that Satan even use that argument when he was talking about Joe. You know when Joe suffered the loss of all these things and yet didn't curse God. Satan said mother reason he doesn't curse God is an amount of give anything of the only hang onto his life. He is afraid because you what he really thinks and curses you to your face will die and so he asked good. It really is hard from you, and I was a lie. Nevertheless was an acknowledgment of how precious life is your life is precious to you. My life is precious to me what David says here is something even better than that and that is the love of God. The Hebrew word he uses here is cassette which is often translated loving kindness sometimes covenant love stresses faithful, continuing love of God, God is steady and unchangeable.

And that's why it's better than life is a valuable his life is invaluable as all the many things we may enjoy in life are all those things are nevertheless perishable they will know we will die.

See the love of God will never die. Those who are loved by God will live forever spiritual, even though we die physically. That's why the apostle Paul could write of the love of God and say in Romans eight I'm convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present of the future and or any powers, neither height or depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord is true love of God is really that great, and if when we seek God we are satisfied by that love isn't it strange that we spend so much crime trying to find satisfaction elsewhere that those other things are long gone, gives us many things richly to enjoy, but there's a sense in which everything else will ultimately disappoint us, and if it doesn't disappoint. Eventually it will be gone is a love of God is never gone God never changes those upon whom he has fixed his love will be with him and enjoy him forever. So we had to think on that way now you know I can't help but think of an illustration that comes from Philadelphia. If you go out along the E. River Dr. you'll see on your right before you go very far. A statue of the pilgrim looks at the base of the hill to essentially hill people call it that anymore, but it's what it is near the pilgrim. There was a stream that flowed into the river. You trace that stream back up over the hill eventually come to its source. Sources of fountain up there, which in earlier days the councilman of the city, but a biblical inscription was John 413 and it said this, whoever drinks of this water will thirst again not interested in the testimony water doesn't satisfy forever and that pointed forward to the fact that nothing in life really satisfies records way this all things we see talk field no pass away, except for God. You know what was not on that fountain, which should've been is what Jesus Christ said. Immediately after that because he himself made the contrast he said whoever drinks of this water.

He was talking about the water of the well of Jacob and Samaria will thirst again but he went on to say whoever drinks of the water that I will give it will never first impede the water. I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to everlasting life. That's what David had drunk off drunk of the covenant love of God, and he found it to be eternally satisfying. I sent her to results.

And here's the first of them. As a result of being satisfied by the eternal lovingkindness of God. David praises God. They were so abundantly satisfied with the love of God. He wanted everybody else to know about the love of God to make me think of the stories found in the Old Testament found in second Kings the days of Elisha armies have been paid at the king of Aram were besieging Samaria. Everybody was shut up in the city was a great famine. Prices were sky high to get even the smallest little bit of something to eat and God delivered the people by causing the armies of the surrounding forces to hear. Suddenly a sound as if an army was approaching with chariots and horses and many men night and it was terrifyingly hot suddenly army was coming upon them from where they didn't know and so they all fled in a panic, leaving everything behind on their tenants and their foodstuffs. The provisions her arms and horses are chariots, not simply were fleeing for their lives.

Now, at that time there were outside the gates of the city of Samaria, a group of about 40 lepers weren't allowed in the course because they were unclean. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with lepers.

Lepers were starving just like everybody else in the city and they said to themselves like why don't we go down to the camp of the besieging Army have been paid at the ceiling will give us something to eat.

The worst thing that happened was is that they'll kill us and we stay die anyway. Maybe don't think that Leonidas went down to the camp and they saw there were no soldiers is all the stuff left behind so they did exactly what you'd expect them to do.

First of all eight everything they could eat. Then there was all the silver and gold, and the weapons of and they carried them off and hid them after they did that they came back and I got more than carry that off my head that finally they they settle down and they came to their senses a little bit and here's what they said we are not doing right this is a day of good news that we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight. That is, the next day. Punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace, so they didn't buy nightfall sacks of flour and barley and other things were selling for just pennies in the city gates which is what Elisha had prophesied the day before on the point of all of that is it is natural and right to share good news is good news. We have a God is a God of steadfast love for all will come to them in Jesus Christ's nose above all other news, so those who know it really do not really know God is like that you need to share an incident. True to say if you're not, we are not doing right this is a day of good news and were keeping it to ourselves. While David didn't want to do that. He wanted everybody to know God as he did as a connection here, you noticed two times it uses the word because in verse three because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you in verse seven.

The same thing because you are my help. I sing in the shadow of your way connection because of who God is, what is like therefore I tell other people about it. The question is do you why then is the second result is a result of being satisfied by this great lovingkindness of God. David wants to stay close to God as he tells others that he also wants to stay close to God himself. Verse eight says I stay close to your now at work. Stay close is actually cleaved to sort of archaic today. That's why we don't have it in our translations, but it's a term that's used of the attachment between a husband and wife or of other tight relationships such as Ruth's attachment to her mother-in-law, Naomi read about it. Ruth 114 so I say if you been satisfied by God is in a true virtual on the stay close to him to fear not cleaving to him. Perhaps it's because you've never thought about him enough to be truly and deeply satisfied, as the case maybe that's the point at which you need to begin on the last three verses of the Psalm look to the future and express David's confidence that in time.

His enemies are going to be destroyed.

Miles of those who have been slandering him will be silenced and there were many.

Some of the stories are told in the Old Testament, and he will again be openly praising God along with others. Also, love and seek him now. There are a lot of pedantic commentators. If you've ever studied the commentaries you know that pedantic commentators don't get what's going on here. I think that somehow is that break in the tone here. We have had this first part that expresses David's longing after Gautam and we have the middle portion that explains how God really has satisfied his deepest longing I would get to the end. He says in the future. My enemies are going to be destroyed all to be back in Jerusalem and will be praising God again. Well, it's not a case of something being stuck on there that doesn't really belong to David somehow missing what he is saying and falling back into a vindictive kind of spirit. That's not it at all. These last verses do is bring us back to the point at which the Psalm started was a race back to where the title says we are, that is in the wilderness words. It's a way of saying that this is a real world after all and never going to be genuinely satisfied with God's love is not going to be in some never never land of the imagination. But it's going to be right here in the midst of this world's disappointments, frustrations and dangers of other words it was at the very time when his son had betrayed him and was seeking to take his life.

David was able to say I have found God satisfying. That means, of course, is that as you go in your life this week. Whatever the difficulties may be whether you find your work, frustrating, where people have it in for you and that's often the case, or have relationships where people just hate Job perhaps because of who you are, perhaps more so I hope it's this that fits the case because you're a Christian, or because after struggle simply to make ends meet. Or if you're sick you have a hard time even praying because the pain in your body is so physically distracting.

It may be that you're going into this week when you leave here, remember that it is exactly in that situation come to you from God exactly there that your to find God satisfying you seek his face you find it to be true and you'll be able to say, as Job did. Even though he slays me, yet will I praise because you say is love really is better in life become a Morgan said that this Psalm, especially the ending of it is an amazing triumph of faith. David hounded out of Jerusalem in danger of his life satisfied with God saying nevertheless because of who God is. I will be satisfied. He says it's an amazing triumph of faith.

What he says in order that amazing triumph of faith that take place, two things are necessary. First, there must be a consciousness of one's personal relationship to God. All God, thou art my God is what David says. Secondly, there must be an earnest seeking after God early will I seek. They or I will seek the earnestly fine your spiritual life is weak and anemic. You find yourself puzzled by the events of life, finding them difficult. Here's the solution seek after God seeking while he may be found of the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you ask it will be given if you seek it will find that if you knock it will be open. God does not withhold his presence. Those who seek him in spirit and truth. Father, we thank you for this Psalm that has been our privilege to study tonight and we ask you to bless to our hearts. We read the songs sweet tap in to the emotion of the person who knew you in a bygone age, far away situation historical circumstances far removed from our own and that nevertheless we are coming into contact with one who went through the same kind of things we do and found you to be everything his soul could possibly desire, our father, we commit ourselves to you a fresh acid by your grace, you will quicken in us that kind of longing after you that is satisfied which down through all the centuries has been the joy and the reposts of your people. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians or vascular free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come. You can do over the phone at 1-800-488-1888 or send a check to 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 176014 Canadian gifts mill those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M, one scene two line 9. Thanks for your continued clearance and for listening to Bible study.

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