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The Christian’s Craving for God

By Matthew Black, Pastor

Text: Psalm 63

Date: Sunday, March 8, 2009, 6pm


Tabernacle Baptist Church

7020 Barrington Road

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133



Introduction: Open your Bible to Psalm 63. The title of our message tonight is “The Christian’s craving for God”. What we are going to see is that biblical Christianity is a living thing that is nothing less than the life of God united with the soul of man.

David Brainerd died before the age of thirty, yet his influence goes on today.  He said, “O how much better than life is the presence of God.” [1]

The Christian’s Panting Heart for God

When God saves a sinner, he unites that sinner’s soul with His divine nature, and there is a cleansing that occurs and a life that enters in. And then that human being, filled with the Spirit of God lives out his devotion to God in his life. This is what is accomplished in the new birth. There is a profound hungering and thirsting after God.

Many have expressed this hunger. Listen to them pant after God.

Aurelius Augustine of Hippo (354-430), pastor, bishop, and prolific writer in the early church, went so far as to say: “Love God, and do what you want”.[2] He knew that the radical love for God in the heart was enough to change all his “wants” into godly desires.

David Brainerd (1718-1747): “I never feel comfortably, but when I find my soul going forth after God: if I cannot be holy, I must necessarily be miserable forever.”[3]

Ed McCully (1927-1956), missionary martyr to the Waorani tribe of Equador: “I have one desire now, to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it."[4]

David knew no one but God could satisfy him, and he could be satisfied even in the most barren times in his life. David was a man after God’s own heart.  My hope for each of you here tonight is that you would be a man or a woman after God’s heart.

David’s satisfaction in life was not in this world. Remember the prophet Samuel had anointed David to be king. David’s seven brothers all passed before Samuel while David was in the field keeping the sheep. God promised little David the kingdom that day. We are not really sure, but we guess that he was in the teenage years that day. He did not become King until he was 30, and along the way, he became an exile and a fugitive. He knew he was to be King of Israel. God had said so. God’s prophet had anointed him. Yet he woke up in caves and was coated with the dust of the wilderness that made his body and soul dry. David had nothing out there in the wilderness, except the promises of God. David had come to the end of himself. He had absolutely nothing but God.

Later on in his kingdom, David again had to flee to this same wilderness when his own son, Absalom hijacked the kingdom from him. Again, he went from being on top of the world to a wanderer. That was a bad week for David! He had no other promises but the promises of God. He was emptied of himself. His situation was dry like his soul. It is during this time that David while he is on the run, that he turns to God to fill his soul. He writes this 63rd Psalm, which says:

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2  To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4  Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: 6  When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. 7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. 8  My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. 9  But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. 10  They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. 11  But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped”.  Psalm 63:1-12

[Prayer for Guidance]

Beware of Convenient Chrisitianity

Christians have a craving and a hunger for God. Sadly many professing Christians are willing to follow Christ just so long as it is convenient. As long as Christianity is comfortable most people are willing to bear the name of Jesus Christ. But when they begin to suffer, they make excuses for not following Christ and for continuing on without a deep commitment.

Real Faith is Alive!

Real Christianity follows hard after God because of the addiction of their heart.  They are in love with God.  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Those who actually follow after Christ are true Christians and no one else. Jesus said, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Only those who live the Christian life are Christians no matter what their profession is. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

A God-Dependant, God-Saturated, God-Satisfying Life

David knew nothing of convenient faith. He believed God in deepest sorrow and distress. He found joy and happiness whatever mess he was in. Listen to the secret of David’s happiness: “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (Psalm 63:7). God’s shelter was over David at all times. That was David’s joy. David was filled whether in the palace or the cave. God was his sufficiency and satisfaction in the most barren times in his life. He asked God to be his help, and then he stepped out on faith and lived a God-dependent, God-saturated, God-satisfying life even when he woke up some mornings in a cold dry wilderness.

It is the Christian’s highest joy to live in the shadow of God’s presence. Holiness is happiness for the true child of God.

I.         What Does the Divine Craving for God in a Christian Look Like?

The divine craving for God in a Christian leads to a life that is swallowed up in Christ. David says, “O God, thou art my God” (Psalm 63:1). He does not care about getting back to the palace. He does not care about the praise of men or getting back to his comfort. He wants his God and his whole identity and meaning for life are wrapped up in Him. He want it more than life. He says, “early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is”. This was who David was by nature. Whether in the wilderness or the palace, David was at home with God. A genuine Christian lives out who they really are when no one is looking. Who you are in the dark is who you really are. David was faithful to God because he belonged to God. He called Him “my God”.

My wife wears my name, and I expect her to be faithful to me. If you wear the name of Jesus Christ, you had better be faithful to Him. What would you call a man that was faithful to his wife in public, but not in private? An adulterer. And so it is with the hypocrite. A hypocrite can profess Christ, but his life demonstrates that his heart has never truly been changed.

If you are a Christian, Jesus Christ lives in you and through you. You want nothing else than to know and reflect His presence. Understand that He holds the universe in His hand—He could crush us all in a moment, but He is the most brokenhearted, merciful, meek, loving, self-sacrificing Person, and He lives in us! If Christ lives in you, He will live through you. You can call Him “my God” as David did.

A.  Genuine Christianity Begins with an End of Self

Everything David’s flesh could want in that ancient world, he had in the palace. Yet having lost it all, he desires not the selfish pleasures of the palace but the presence of God. We read David’s words, and we see that he has lost himself in God. He says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee” (Psalm 63:1). No mention of the self life is made. He does not pray for status, possessions, or comfort. Self is no where to be found in David’s words. He had come to the conclusion that actually nothing he could seek on earth could gratify what his soul needed. God and God alone could offer his soul the deep satisfaction he was longing for. These are the cravings of the new heart. Flesh and self are conspicuously absent.

Do you want true, vital Christianity? If you want it, you must forsake all and follow Christ as your God and your all. He must own you and you must claim Him. It will cost you everything. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

We must go to our own funerals. A genuine Chrisitan life is one of giving total and absolute allegiance to God and dying to self. You will never know God unless you die to self. As Amy Charmichael wrote:

O Prince of Glory, who dost bring

Thy sons to glory through the Cross,

Let us not shrink from suffering,

Reproach or loss.[5]

God will not be found without an end of self. Christianity from beginning to end is a call to die to self and to live to God. The most graphic illustration of what Christianity is defined to be is the very cross of Jesus Christ. He said if you follow me you must take up your cross and nail your agenda to it. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Before Jim Elliot left for Ecuador, from which he would never return because of martyrdom, he wrote his mother: “Remember we have bargained with Him who bore a cross. …Our silken selves must know denial”.[6]

We must go to the cross and to the tomb to die. Yet we will see a principle next that fills every true Christian with hope. The tomb is also a womb. Life comes out of death.

B.  Genuine Christianity is an Experiencing of God

The pursuit of God begins with an end to self, but arrives at a real, vital awakening experience of God. It is in the tomb that we see our powerlessness to save ourselves. In that place of death, where we die to self, God forms a new heart in us that will conform us into the image of Christ. A Christian is one who is born again. At the second birth we get new life. That tomb becomes a womb where we are resurrected by the power of God. The life of God is united with the soul of man and creates an insatiable desire for His presence. That is why if the most foundational desires of your soul are not satisfied in God, you cannot claim to be a Chistian. David says his deepest desire was to experience God. It was not his duty that motivated him but his desire! David’s prayer is not a declaration of Christianity but a demonstration of it. He says, How was this desire going to be fulfilled? It would only be fulfilled by David actually experiencing God. Every Christian has in his heart this thirst for God. I want you to see several things about the Christian’s experience of God.

1.     This experience of God eclipses the boundaries of this world.

David says ‘I thirst…to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary” (Psalm 63:1a, 2). David’s life revolved around his experience with God. No one can experience the living and true God without being keenly aware of it. Notice what David was seeking to experience: the power and the glory (presence) of God that he had experienced in the sanctuary or holy place. Was David in heaven? No, he was in the lonely wilderness, yet he was not alone. He understood that he did not have to be physically present at the Tabernacle to experience the glory and majesty of God. That is because as a born again person though David walked on earth he was spiritually in heaven united to God by the Holy Spirit. The believer’s experience of God exclipses the boundaries of temporal time and space. He lives for and partakes of what is not seen. If any one loves this world and lives for it, he they can have this world, but he will go down with it (2 Thessalonians 1:8). “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If your foundational desires are satisfied by this world you are not a Christian.

The divine craving within the Christian causes him to seek what is not found on this earth. Though he lives on earth, his experience of God transcends this world. He lives in and for what is found in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17).

2.     This experience of God is exlusive.

David’s whole world revolved around his love for God. “O God, thou art my God” (Psalm 63:1). The primary focus of prayer for David was an exclusive enjoyment of God. He wanted God. He did not care if God gave him things on this earth. He was not using God as a cosmic Santa Claus or genie. He understood that God was his portion. He wanted God himself. His person. His presence. His love poured out on him.

Humanity is created for the pleasure of God. “Thou art worthy…for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). You were not created to earn a paycheck, though you should. You were not created to build houses and eat food and sleep. Though you can and should do these things, these are all secondary reasons for living. We were created to “worship the Father in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

3.     This experience of God is early.

There is an urgency to the Christian’s experience of God. For the genuine Christian, God takes precedence over all others. David prayed, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psalm 63:1).

Explanation: When David says he seeks God early, he is not speaking of the time of day but that this is the first priority on his mind. Seeking God is a pre-eminent desire for the Christian. He seeks first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). He says with Paul, “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

There are some things that we want, and the desire overcomes us—there is an urgency. For the Christian, the desire is for God Himself. Nothing else is more important.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s wrote in his memoirs, “Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made”.[7] Jim Elliot prayed: “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, LORD Jesus.”[8] Both died before the age of thirty. The words of both express the heart cry of every Christian.

4.     This experience of God is earnest.

David’s hunger and thirst for God was not put on. He wanted nothing else but God when he said, “…my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1b).

David cried out to God as a desperate man, as a little baby crying for milk from his mother. He did not care what was going on. Time stopped. He was focused on one thing and one thing only. There was a serious earnestness, like that of when someone is in serious trouble calling out for someone to help them.

God puts this earnestness into the soul of man when He engrafts the tender heart into the reborn saint of God. There is a hunger pain for the presence of God. It hurts for the genuine Christian to be living on this earth outside of the perfection of the new heavens and earth. So until the Day of Redemption comes, the Christian earnestly longs for God. He says with John, “Even so come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

5.     This experience of God is exiting.

David is jolted with joy while he is praying. He lifts up his hands to heaven, as if to touch and embrace God.


“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips”. Psalm 63:3-5

He says the experience of God is “better than life”—better than anything this world could hope to offer. This world offers a lot of counterfeit pleasures, but it can never deliver what it offers. God alone is the only one who always delivers what He promises. He is ready to give you more than you can ever handle of Him. This kind of experience filled David with overwhelming praise, to the point where he raised his hands to heaven. He was addicted to God, absolutely addicted. He was satisfied with God!

6.     This experience of God is enduring.

David confesses that he is so addicted to his walk with God, that sometimes it keeps him up all night long. “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6). This addiction to God was something that would fill David with such energy of the Spirit of God that he would not be able to go to sleep. This is not a Sunday morning Christianity.  It is a 24 – 7 Christianity!

A Christian craves one thing above all. He hungers and thirsts for God!

II.     I want you to consider the Christian’s Radical Commitment to God.

David seeks God when he is in dire need. He does not look to men.  Men will always fail you. David instead follows hard after God who never fails or breaks even one promise. A Christian through his new nature lives in constant depenence upon God.  He is constantly following hard after God—seeking God for help, strength, joy, encouragment, and security.

David describes his faith and his pursuit of God: “My soul followeth hard after thee” (Psalm 63:8). There is nothing half-hearted about one who is born of God. A new heart desires to follow God no matter what the cost. We have settled for a counterfeit Christianity that demands little to nothing. If we make converts without the power of God it is very difficult to ask them to live a supernatural life. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Yet with the high demands come God’s quickening power. God commands us to follow Christ, to be pure as He is pure, perfect as He is perfect, because He intends to give us the power for supernatural living.

A.  The Christian Finds Strength in this commitment.

Like David we need to learn God-dependence in our weakness. David understood and actually rejoiced in the mighty power of God that overshadowed him. He says, “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Psalm 63:7-8). Notice the words “help” and “uphold”. David was the strongest when he was the weakest. He rejoiced in the shadow of God’s wings.

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

The strength that David experienced from God that was not a result of sleeping or eating or exercise. Remember David was probably very hungry. He was not in the palace but the desert. His dreams of being king were shattered. His marriage was shattered. Yet the joy of the Lord was his strength.  He said, “in the shadow of thy wings I will I rejoice”.

B.  The Christian Finds Courgage in his commitment to God.

David spoke with great swelling words of bravery, but they were not empty words. He had the courage of a man who knew he was on the victorious side. Listen to him: “But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes” (Psalm 63:9-10). David’s dependence on God was able to squelch the temptation to fear man.

The Christian finds courage in his God-dependence even if he has to stand alone. The Christian does not fear men. He receives great opposition at times, but he is fearless to face every antagonism because he is entirely dependent on God.

There are many that will try to hold the Christian back from serving God. They will say how unreasonable it is. Some will even mock the Christian for believing God so devoutly. Others will outright oppose him. Indeed, “all they that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But persecution does not stop the Christian. Nothing stops the Christian from going forward for very long. We are victors, yea, more than conquerors in all things.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

C.   The Christian Finds Joy in his commitment to God.

The Christian does not find joy in men, but in God. David says despite all these terrible things happening in his life that he has joy: “But the king shall rejoice in God” (Psalm 63:11a).

Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

D.  The Christian Finds Security in God-Dependence

A Christian does not rest his faith in imperfect men or on prosperity in life, but instead finds security in God amidst unfaithful men and the unpredictable trials of life.

David trusted in the absolute sovereignty of God when he was wronged in life. In this Psalm David had been wronged by the son he loved so much, Absolom. Yet David’s faith did not waver for a monent. David was radically surrendered to the plan and purpose of God in spite of all the malicious lies assaulting him. Listen to David’s resolve amidst an unbearable trial of his faith: “But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him [God] shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped” (Psalm 63:11).

David was willing to take all the assaults of men without losing faith in God because he knew no matter what happened, God has the last word; he knew that God would bring everyone into account before His throne and stop the mouths of unfaithful men.

True Christians are careful to keep their eyes on the Lord who never fails. The prophet Jeremiah described those with their eyes on men as “cursed” and those with their eyes on the Lord as “a tree planted by the waters” who brings forth fruit.  God warns us not to trust in man.


Jeremiah 17:5-10 “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”.

Conclusion: Christ called us not simply to evangelize but to make followers of Him (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to “teach them to observe all things” whatsoever Christ commanded. Nominal (name only) Christianity is not Christianity at all.

What good is a light if you don’t put it on a candle stick?  What good is salt if you don’t have flavor?  What good is the claim of being a Christian without being a “Christ follower”.

Won’t you say with Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). Is God your desire? Praise God for the new birth that gives a craving and commitment to God!


[1] Jonathan Edwards. Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 1818), 207.

[2] Donald E. Gowan. The Westminster Theological Wordbook of the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 105.

[3] Edwards. Memoirs of Brainerd, 77.

[4] Elisabeth Elliot. Through Gates of Splendor (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986), 50-51.

[5] Amy Carmichael. Quoted by Joni Eareckson Tada. Pearls of Great Price (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 178.

[6] Ibid., 5.

[7] Robert Murray M'Cheyne and Andrew A. Bonar. Memoir of the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne (Edinburgh, Scotland: Oliphant, Anderson, and Ferrier, 1883), 163.

[8] Jim Elliot and Elisabeth Elliot. The Journals of Jim Elliot (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 2002), 18.

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