The opening verses of Psalm 63 remind me of an old legend about Socrates, the 5th century Greek philosopher. It seems a young man went to Socrates and asked for the secret of success. Socrates indicated the young man should follow him – and he did, all the way to the seashore. But Socrates did not stop there. He waded out into the water – followed by the young man. When they were nearly chest deep, Socrates grabbed the young man, pushed his head under the water, and held him there.
Of course, after a bit the young man began to struggle and when he became most frantic, and Socrates could hold him no longer, the philosopher released him. Sputtering and coughing, the young man shouted: “Why did you do that?” Socrates replied: “When you want success as much as you wanted air just now, you will find it.”
The writer of Psalm 63 “thirsts” and “longs” for God, like a parched wanderer in a desert longs for water. On sleepless nights, his restless thoughts turn to God and even in difficult times, sheltered by the wing of God, the psalmist sings.
Do you feel about God the way the Psalmist feels about God? Is His love, approval, blessing, “better than life” to you? Is that what you feel? Is that what others see by your life? The psalm offers a challenge to all of us, and since the “place” where this longing for God occurs is “in worship” (“in the sanctuary”, vs. 2), we might do well to think about whether our assemblies are designed to reveal God, and whether we might see Him more often if we gathered for worship more consistently and purposefully. When we want a relationship with God as much as air (Jesus referred to it as “hungering and thirsting for righteousness), nothing will stand in our way of finding it.