Comparison Of Psalms 63 And 84
from "Girdle of Truth" (available from Present Truth Publishers)

Psalm 63;Psalm 84

(The Difference Between Delighting in God When "The Rain Fills the Pools," and Delighting in Him, Where "There is No Water")

These two Psalms are brought together with the view of showing the difference there is in the character of the blessing, and enjoyment of God expressed in them. Both are most blessed, and, in one way, each is complete in itself. But there is a marked distinction between them. The former expresses perfect enjoyment in God Himself, and in Him alone; the latter, the enjoyment of Him in the midst of blessings with which He, in His mercy, surrounds us, and in fellowship with them. As saints, we must realize God in both these ways; though, in His mercy, His general way of dealing with us is rather that of the 84th Psalm; that is, granting us the assistance, the help, and the comfort of outward blessings, and communion with fellow-christians.

The 23rd Psalm is another example of this. It opens with what one may call the natural condition of a saint--the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of the green pastures, and still waters of the Good Shepherd. But that does not continue always; it is not the experience we get. Sorrow, and trial, and failure come in, and then we learn that He restoreth the soul. And by His strength made perfect in weakness, and the table spread in the presence of our enemies, we gain the knowledge of God, which says, "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." And our hearts need this sort of discipline, that we may not merely, as in the first moments of our salvation, rejoice in the love that has redeemed us; but that we may know with what a God we have to do, and learn, apart from all extraneous helps, what our portion is in Himself.

In examining a little more closely the Psalms before us, we may notice the opening of the 63rd. It begins with the address: "Oh, God," not "Oh, Lord of hosts," as in the 84th Psalm. It is not His title in covenant with Israel that is before the soul, but the individual apprehension of what He is in Himself. "Oh God, thou art my God. My soul longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." Such is the land in which God is learned as our God--where there are no springs of refreshment by the way, no outward comforts, perhaps even no sources of spiritual help and strength, no "courts of the Lord," no "tabernacles." True, we may have seen and rejoiced in God's power and glory at other times; and so we ought, for they are divinely-appointed means of grace and help for us; but the psalmist, in verse 2, longs to see His power and glory "as I have seen them in the sanctuary." To see them in the dry and thirsty land is by no means so easy. They are not so evident there, and the heart sometimes finds it hard to say, "Thy lovingkindness is better than life"--better than all that ministers to life, than all the blessings and enjoyments in which life consists, and which are (whether spiritual or temporal) the offspring of the very same love and kindness of God. But we must realize the lovingkindness itself to be better than all the blessings it gives, and find it our joy when they are all withdrawn.

If we have once really tasted it, we never enjoy it so much as when we have nothing else to enjoy. The Lord Jesus was, of course, the perfect illustration of this trusting in God, and finding joy in Him, too, in a dry and thirsty land. We know in what sanctuary He had seen God's power and glory; and His life proves He saw them equally in this land, which was to Him how far more dry and thirsty than to us! He could say, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of;" and pray that His joy might be fulfilled in His disciples. "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,"--this, too, in the same circumstances of barrenness and death. What a contrast between the actual position of a faithful saint and the joy which he derives from the presence of God. The 6th verse is but another expression of the loneliness and absence of all external sources of help and support. The light of day, even of the presence of others, all gone. Still the experience of what God has been gives confidence, and joy, and peace in the shadow of His wings; and the dry and thirsty land--the place of death to the natural man--becomes a place of blessing, and of proving the Lord's right hand upholding us.

The 84th Psalm is quite another thing, as to circumstances; though, of course, all the joy and blessing of it spring from the same source. It is the full confidence in God, and desire after Him as a God that has been known and loved; expressed in Jewish language, as the tabernacles, courts, and Zion show, and having an application to Israel, of course; though I take it now in its spiritual bearing. The tabernacle is to us the heavenly places, where we enjoy God's presence, and which are the home of our heart; just as the nest is the home of the swallow, and the place where she finds rest and joy.

It is, perhaps, as especially assembled together, and privileged for a while to shut out all, save our heavenly home, that this Psalm regards us in this sense. "They that dwell in Thy house shall be still praising Thee." Praise is here the one legitimate object of our souls, and employment of our lips. In secret with God, conflict and petition, and the like, have all their place. In His house, our one occupation is to be still praising Him, who is our strength here, and the object of all our desires. These desires will never be satisfied until we are forever in His house, until we get to our God in glory; and therefore till then, the way thither must be the thing that fills our hearts.

"Blessed is the man in whose heart are the ways." These ways may be rough, for they lead through the valley of Baca, the place of tears; but what matters this, if they lead home? If my heart is set on the end of my journey, the roughness of the way matters but little. It brings me where I want to be; and a smoother, pleasanter path, in another direction, will not even have an attraction for me--it does not lead home. It gives great decision and firmness to the christian character to keep this simply before the mind. And after all, the valley of Baca is turned into a well to us; and we often find a deep source of spiritual blessing in the things that cause the trials. They are not pleasant, of course, but they are the means of breaking down these miserable fleshly hearts, and of making them fit to receive the blessing our God designs to bestow.

Then "the rain also filleth the pools." Streams of heavenly blessing come pouring in upon us, making our path a continuance of refreshment and help. Thus a rough road, and His strength and help along it, is our portion. Then we are led from "strength to strength." The strength is ever tried by the needs of the way, but ever renewed by the grace of our God, "till we appear before Him in Zion." The only thing for a Christian in this world is the path towards glory, which leads out of the world. In that path he can never fall; the causes of tears become means to him of grace, and of the powerful refreshings of the Spirit. Living waters from above divinely reanimate his courage, and all this because the Anointed is there: God looks on His face, and so all is secure to us. Nothing shall separate us from His love. "Neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall ever separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," prone as our poor hearts are to let any creature do it now.

Well, beloved friends, we must all learn God in these ways; learn Him in the midst of His blessings, and in a measure by them, perhaps, first; but sometime or other, we must have our hearts tested, by being cast over on Himself, and nothing else -- being brought into a position where nothing helps God to make us happy, if I may use such an expression, and where we must find in Him alone our all--our joy, our strength, our peace, our hope; find Him such too "in a dry and thirsty land where no water is." Still, blessed be His Name, He has given grace, and will give glory, and withhold no good thing from us. Well may we say, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee."