Through the years, the book of Psalms has been revered by many Bible students. While some of the Psalms are well-known and quoted often, perhaps the 63rd Psalm is less familiar to some of us. I can tell you, though, that this psalm has a powerful message that pricks the heart of God-fearing people. It causes us to look upward, inward, and outward.
Let me quote the first seven verses of Psalm 63. Please take time to read the verses slowly and let each word sink down in your soul. See if you can find the words which form the title of this article.
(1) O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. (2) So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. (3) Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. (4) Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. (5) My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. (6) When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. (7) Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
Since the God of heaven does not change (Malachi 3:6), He possesses the same nature which He did during the Old Testament era. Thus, the character traits of His which are revealed in the above passage are still relevant today. Look at how He is portrayed as the God of power (63:2), the God of glory (63:2), and the Helper of those who seek Him (63:7). He can help, He wants to help, and He does help (63:7). How wonderful!
Look at how the Psalmist responds to God, knowing Whom He is and what He does. He serves the Lord in a personal way, referring to Him as “my” God (63:1) and “my help” (63:7). He thirsts and longs for God in all circumstances (63:1). He praises and blesses Jehovah (63:4,5). He is satisfied in the Lord’s service (63:5), he remembers God when resting (63:6), and he meditates on Him throughout the night (63:6). He is prepared to express his joy in serving the Creator (63:5). Like the writer of this Psalm, we, too, should rejoice in our great God.
Now, let us turn to the truthful statement that the Lord’s “lovingkindness is better than life” (63:3). What a marvelous thought! God’s lovingkindness is. It is better. It is better than life. It is not okay to love the world’s evil (1 John 2:15), but it is proper to love life (1 Peter 3:10). Yes, it is acceptable to enjoy even non-spiritually-related aspects of life which do not violate God’s will, but we must keep matters in proper perspective: nothing that is material or solely earthly in nature can compare to God’s lovingkindness. Read those words again: “Your lovingkindness is better than life.”
There are other Psalms which point out God’s lovingkindness. For instance, “Hear me, O LORD, for your lovingkindness is good” (Psalm 69:16). Again, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! (Psalm 36:7). Yes, as the prophet Jonah declared, Jehovah is “abundant in lovingkindness” (Jonah 4:2). When we put the contents of three passages together, what do we see? The Lord’s lovingkindness is good, precious, and abundant.
Let us get personal. If God’s lovingkindness really means something special to us, what should it motivate us to do? It should move us to humble ourselves before God and praise Him. Go back and look at Psalm 63:4 – that is exactly how the Psalmist responded to Jehovah’s lovingkindness. Hear this: “I will worship toward your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and your truth” (Psalm 138:2).
God’s lovingkindness ought to motivate us to imitate Him. What two ideas are joined together in our English word “lovingkindness?” “Loving” and “kindness.” The appeal to Christians is, “And be kind to one another . . . Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us . . .” (Ephesians 4:32-5:1). Be kind, love, imitate God – those three concepts go hand in hand.
One more thing. We must not treat God’s lovingkindness as if it were some type of secret that is only for an elite group of people. Back to the Psalms: “I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O LORD, You Yourself know. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the assembly” (Psalm 40:9,10). Yes, when the people of God assemble, they need to be reminded of God’s lovingkindness. At the same time, we must tell that great message to the whole world! Let us shout it from the rooftops and go into the market places to tell going-to-die-one-day sinners about what the lovingkind God can do for them.
In many cases, the older we get, the more we see clearly our own personal weaknesses. As we have a greater sense of weakness, we feel a need for God’s helping hand (Psalm 63:7). As we sense our need for God’s helping hand, we have greater appreciation for His lovingkindness. That does not mean that we are getting soft; we are simply being honest and grateful, seeing God’s greatness and blessings. Truly, God’s lovingkindness is better than life.
— Roger D. Campbell