How soon are David’s complaints and prayers turned into praises and thanksgivings! After Ps. 63:1, 2 that express his desire in seeking God, here are some that express his joy and satisfaction in having found him. Faithful prayers may quickly be turned into joyful praises, if it be not our own fault. Let the hearts of those rejoice that seek the Lord (Ps. 105:3), and let them praise him for working those desires in them, and giving them assurance that he will satisfy them. David was now in a wilderness, and yet had his heart much enlarged in blessing God. Even in affliction we need not want matter for praise, if we have but a heart to it. Observe,
I. What David will praise God for (Ps. 63:3): Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, than lives, life and all the comforts of life, life in its best estate, long life and prosperity. God’s lovingkindness is in itself, and in the account of all the saints, better than life. It is our spiritual life, and that is better than temporal life, Ps. 30:5. It is better, a thousand times, to die in God’s favour than to live under his wrath. David in the wilderness finds, by comfortable experience, that God’s lovingkindness is better than life; and therefore (says he) my lips shall praise thee. Note, Those that have their hearts refreshed with the tokens of God’s favour ought to have them enlarged in his praises. A great deal of reason we have to bless God that we have better provisions and better possessions than the wealth of this world can afford us, and that in the service of God, and in communion with him, we have better employments and better enjoyments than we can have in the business and converse of this world.
II. How he will praise God, and how long, Ps. 63:4. He resolves to live a life of thankfulness to God and dependence on him. Observe, 1. His manner of blessing God: “Thus will I bless thee, thus as I have now begun; the present devout affections shall not pass away, like the morning cloud, but shine more and more, like the morning sun.” Or, “I will bless thee with the same earnestness and fervency with which I have prayed to thee.” 2. His continuance and perseverance therein: I will bless thee while I live. Note, Praising God must be the work of our whole lives; we must always retain a grateful sense of his former favours and repeat our thanksgivings for them. We must every day give thanks to him for the benefits with which we are daily loaded. We must in every thing give thanks, and not be put out of frame for this duty by any of the afflictions of this present time. Whatever days we live to see, how dark and cloudy soever, though the days come of which we say, We have no pleasure in them, yet still every day must be a thanksgiving-day, even to our dying-day. In this work we must spend our time because in this work we hope to spend a blessed eternity. 3. His constant regard to God upon all occasions, which should accompany his praises of him: I will lift up my hands in thy name. We must have an eye to God’s name (to all that by which he has made himself known) in all our prayers and praises, which we are taught to begin with,—Hallowed be thy name, and to conclude with,—Thine is the glory. This we must have an eye to in our work and warfare; we must lift up our hands to our duty and against our special enemies in God’s name, that is, in the strength of his Spirit and grace, Ps. 71:16; Zech. 10:12. We must make all our vows in God’s name; to him we must engage ourselves and in a dependence upon his grace. And when we lift up the hands that hang down, in comfort and joy, it must be in God’s name; from him our comforts must be fetched, and to him they must be devoted. In thee do we boast all the day long.
III. With what pleasure and delight he would praise God, Ps. 63:5. 1. With inward complacency: My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, not only as with bread, which is nourishing, but as with marrow, which is pleasant and delicious, Isa. 25:6. David hopes he shall return again to the enjoyment of God’s ordinances, and then he shall thus be satisfied, and the more for his having been for a time under restraint. Or, if not, yet in God’s loving kindness, and in conversing with him in solitude, he shall be thus satisfied. Note, There is that in a gracious God, and in communion with him, which gives abundant satisfaction to a gracious soul, Ps. 36:8; 65:4. And there is that in a gracious soul which takes abundant satisfaction in God and communion with him. The saints have a contentment with God; they desire no more than his favour to make them happy: and they have a transcendent complacency in God, in comparison with which all the delights of sense are sapless and without relish, as puddle-water in comparison with the wine of this consolation. 2. With outward expressions of this satisfaction; he will praise God with joyful lips. He will praise him, (1.) Openly. His mouth and lips shall praise God. When with the heart man believes and is thankful, with the mouth confession must be made of both, to the glory of God; not that the performances of the mouth are accepted without the heart (Matt. 15:8), but out of the abundance of the heart the mouth must speak (Ps. 45:1), both for the exciting of our own devout affections and for the edification of others. (2.) Cheerfully. We must praise God with joyful lips; we must address ourselves to that and other duties of religion with great cheerfulness, and speak forth the praises of God from a principle of holy joy. Praising lips must be joyful lips.
IV. How he would entertain himself with thoughts of God when he was most retired (Ps. 63:6): I will praise thee when I remember thee upon my bed. We must praise God upon every remembrance of him. Now that David was shut out from public ordinances he abounded the more in secret communion with God, and so did something towards making up his loss. Observe here, 1. How David employed himself in thinking of God. God was in all his thoughts, which is the reverse of the wicked man’s character, Ps. 10:4. The thoughts of God were ready to him: “I remember thee; that is, when I go to think, I find thee at my right hand, present to my mind.” This subject should first offer itself, as that which we cannot forget or overlook. And they were fixed in him: “I meditate on thee.” Thoughts of God must not be transient thoughts, passing through the mind, but abiding thoughts, dwelling in the mind. 2. When David employed himself thus—upon his bed and in the night-watches. David was now wandering and unsettled, but, wherever he came, he brought his religion along with him. Upon my beds (so some); being hunted by Saul, he seldom lay two nights together in the same bed; but wherever he lay, if, as Jacob, upon the cold ground and with a stone for his pillow, good thoughts of God lay down with him. David was so full of business all day, shifting for his own safety, that he had scarcely leisure to apply himself solemnly to religious exercises, and therefore, rather than want time for them, he denied himself his necessary sleep. He was now in continual peril of his life, so that we may suppose care and fear many a time held his eyes waking and gave him wearisome nights; but then he entertained and comforted himself with thoughts of God. Sometimes we find David in tears upon his bed (Ps. 6:6), but thus he wiped away his tears. When sleep departs from our eyes (through pain, or sickness of body, or any disturbance in the mind) our souls, by remembering God, may be at ease, and repose themselves. Perhaps an hour’s pious meditation will do us more good than an hour’s sleep would have done. See Ps. 16:7; 17:3; Ps. 4:4; 119:62. There were night-watches kept in the tabernacle for praising God (Ps. 134:1), in which, probably, David, when he had liberty, joined with the Levites; and now that he could not keep place with them he kept time with them, and wished himself among them.