Psalm 63:2–4 (ESV)
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
The second issue we see is in verses 2-4 and it is the anticipation of corporate worship.
Now, what does this mean? An anticipation of corporate worship? What is David hoping for? What is he longing to be a part of again? He longs to be a part of the corporate worship that he enjoyed with other Israelites in the tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant.
In essence, he wanted to be in church with other believers to experience the joy of worshipping together as God’s people.
Remember, he is isolated out in the desert living on the run from his son Absalom and he desperately wants to go back to Jerusalem to experience the joy of corporate worship.
In verse 2, David harkens back to an experience he had in the sanctuary—that is the tabernacle—where he beheld or saw first hand the power and glory of God. We really don’t know if David literally saw God in all his majesty face-to-face in the tabernacle, but we know that Moses was not allowed to see God and live. Others like Daniel and Isaiah and Ezekiel who saw the glory of God fell down as dead men utterly ruined in their sins.
So what exactly did David see in the sanctuary?
Most scholars believe that David was referring to the symbol of God’s manifest presence among God’s people—the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary. In other words, no one can actually see God and live so the Ark is the visible expression of an invisible God in that time. It was the mediated presence of God for the Israelites. It was a visually reminder that God was truly indeed with them.
During the times of Moses, God would descend in a cloud on the Ark in the sanctuary and the people would worship and tremble in awe.
What David longs here for is the experience of being together in worship again with God’s people to come to the tabernacle and to experience the power and glory of God.
Is that your desire when you come to worship on Sunday mornings? Do you long to be with God’s people so that you can experience the power and glory of God? Or is Sunday morning just a duty? What do you truly expect to happen when you show up at this place? Do you expect to experience the power and glory of God?
Do we truly long for God to do something special when we meet? Do we long for the manifest presence of God? Maybe God is withholding a special measure of His presence because our hearts don’t really want it. We just want to show up and be comfortable and sing a few songs and hear a good message, but do we really want to encounter the Living God in a very profound and special way?
How does David view being in the presence of God in worship?
In verse 3 he praises God for his steadfast love. Again this word is “hesed” in the original language, which means God’s faithful, tenacious, pursuing love for His people where He promises to never leave or forsake them, but to love them to the end because He’s sworn upon Himself in covenant that He will be true to His promises.
He sees this love of God as better than life itself.
Can we truly say that? We believe that the love of Jesus is better than life itself?
Many of you know I have recently read an abridged version of the Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. In this Edwards lays forth twelve proofs or evidences of true conversion of a person who has authentically been born again. Listen to what he says about valuing Jesus: “To have a conviction, so clear and evident and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness, to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long-continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and to count all things but dung, for Christ.”
Are we willing to lose our life to save it for the surpassing greatness of the steadfast love of God?
David longs for corporate worship so that he can come back to the sanctuary and praise God and bless Him and lift up his hands and worship and sing.
When you come to this place on Sunday mornings with these people that you call your church family, is your ultimate joy to lift your hands in worship and bask in the love of God for you as a sinner and to find in Jesus your greatest satisfaction?
There’s something powerful about being in corporate worship where God chooses to show up in power and glory as a way to give us an opportunity to praise Him with our lips and to raise hands in worship to Him.
So we’ve seen the first two issues with this Psalm. First of all, David has an intense desire for God’s manifest presence, as he is isolated in the wilderness being hunted down by his wicked son. And secondly, he longs to go back to Jerusalem so that he can worship again in the sanctuary among God’s people.