Psalm 63:1 – O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (NIV 1984)
Psalm 63:1 – You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (NIV 2011)
I love the psalms! They express for me what I am unable to — thoughts and feelings that I would not think of putting into words — like disappointment, restored joy, abandonment, thanksgiving, grief, trust in God, or a cry for justice. I admit that often I find myself in the psalms simply because it's where my Bible falls open. Yet here, I must pause, for this is the place where the Scriptures and my soul open up together. By inviting me into the experience of the psalmists, the psalms are able to penetrate through my entire being. They raise my hidden burdens to the surface. And from that lowly place, the psalms lift me God-ward. Meditating in the psaltery is like breathing deeply — in full, cleansing breaths.
Who but God could have stirred frail humanity to create such magnificent poetry? Who but God could have ensured its preservation?
I'm convinced that my God is still watching over the sacred text to preserve its message, for the wellbeing of His dear ones. Consider today's passage from Psalm 63: specifically the words, "my whole being". Could it be that God guided the translators of the NIV 2011 to replace the NIV 1984 words, "my body" with "my whole being" to better reflect the psalmist's view? After all, ancient people never separated the human being into parts as we do, such as inside versus outside, soul versus flesh, spirit versus the physical. For them, being was all one. The phrase, "my soul thirsts for you", is the same as saying, "my whole being longs for you". It's two expressions for one idea, and together, they strengthen that thought. We do well to consider this. After all, our bodies are intricately interwoven with what happens within our thoughts and emotions. The psalms, indeed, give vent for our entire being.
The word "soul" often appears in the psalms. When I see that word, I no longer imagine this "soul" as a remote part within the psalmist, fragmented from the rest of his being. No. In his entirety, he is experiencing life as it happens — in every fibre, in every bone. The psalmist's whole being reaches heavenward with cries such as, "O God, my God".
As Christians, we can be grateful to God for inspiring such helpful, expressive thoughts that strengthen our faith and connect us back to Him. We can look up to the Lord in thanksgiving for the privilege of trusting Him to work through us.
Beloved friends, I invite you to join with me in this prayer: "O God, my God, no thoughts, no words, no actions can fully express my gratitude to You for Your gift of the psalms. Here is where I can connect my experience with that of another human being. And I am assured that every facet of my being matters to You — just as it did to the psalm writers. Amen."
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O Jesus I Have Promised" (Lyrics)