3.3 A Desert Mirage or the Real Deal?


Days of Preparation: Week Three/Session Three.

Theme: The Intimacy of Prayer.

Our reading for today: Psalm 63.

A David Psalm, when he was out in the Judean wilderness.

God—You’re my God! I can’t get enough of You! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in Your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless You every time I take a breath; my arms wave like banners of praise to You. I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because You’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to You for dear life, and You hold me steady as a post. (Psalm 63: 1-8 MsgB)

Psalm 63 is a desert song. One of those God-songs written when all hell has turned against David and he finds himself once again on the run from his enemies. Truth be known, King David spent a lot of his life wandering aimlessly in the desert wilderness of Israel. Before coming to the throne, his predecessor, King Saul, hunted David like a rabid dog, pushing him into the wilds where he hid away from the evils that wanted him dead. Then, after becoming king, David’s own son Absalom became thirsty for power, and began a campaign to drive his own father once again out into the wilderness. Most scholars believe that it was during this season in David’s life when he wrote Psalm 63.

A desert song. Wilderness lyrics that don’t actually sound much like words you’d write in the midst of a barren desert. As a matter of fact, when you look carefully at the lyrics of this tune, one might wonder if ole’ King David is having one of those stir-crazy moments when he’s seeing things in the desert that aren’t really there!

Think about it. Here’s David singing about drinking heartily of God’s water, splashing and waving his hands in His fountain and eating his fill of prime rib and gravy! Any reasonable-minded person has to wonder if David is seeing one of those desert mirages that happen to people when they’ve been out in the sun too long. Is this guy crazy or what?

Or maybe, just maybe, King David has learned the secret over the years of finding his God in the midst of his desert wilderness? A gift that doesn’t come easily, you know. A gift that comes only to those who learn to wait patiently on God in all circumstances. A gift that the Apostle Paul talks about in the New Testament (Philippians 4: 12) when he states boldly…

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Hmm. Could it be here in Psalm 63 that David isn’t hallucinating at all, but is actually relishing on God’s presence? Enjoying His goodness in the midst of hell and damnation? Receiving God’s amazing grace while on the run, once more, from his enemies? Drawing from God’s resources when all of David’s earthly resources are gone?

I think so.

I also wonder if Psalm 63 might have become one of Jesus’ favorite tunes to sing when He was forced out into the wilderness for 40 days? Alone. No food. No drink. Isolated and cut off from all those things you and I need for survival. And yet God becomes the reality that trumps the circumstances Jesus found Himself in.

Could be that you and I need to become a bit more familiar with Psalm 63? Maybe there is more life in this little ditty than we first thought? Next time we find ourselves on the run from our enemies or hunkering down in the desert wilderness wondering where God is, maybe you and I need to open up the Psalms to David’s desert song and begin singing these lyrics in the midst of our journey? Who knows? Maybe we’ll find God-answers that we’ve never seen before.

My prayer: Lord Jesus, You told us clearly that there is a reality of God’s presence when we come to the end of ourselves. Could it be that King David found that amazing reality as he was found wandering in the wilderness, running once more from his enemies? Spirit, empower me to keep believing that Your goodness and complete provision for me is not a desert mirage but a Kingdom reality I can sink my teeth into. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Where have I taken a wrong turn and allowed the world to define my life based on earthly reasoning and fleshly wisdom? Could it be, like with King David, that there is a reality of God’s presence waiting for me in the wilderness? What work of God is going on inside me today that’s trying to teach me this God-truth found in Psalm 63?

So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?

Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!

To go onto the next journal entry…click here.

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