Rev. VanderWal is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.
“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; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”
Dry and thirsty!
A thirsty soul and a longing flesh in this dry and thirsty land.
Such is the condition of the child of God in this world.
That child of God is surrounded by the good things of this earth. Do not think that these words are the cry of a man deprived of earthly food and drink. No, here is a child of God as he stands before plenty of material good. Plenty to eat and drink he has set before him. Of that plenty he partakes. He eats and he drinks and his stomach is filled. He enjoys the taste of these good things. He receives them as good gifts from his heavenly Father.
Neither are these the words of a man who is burdened by particular troubles. His way is not attended by painful afflictions or grievous torments. He is not necessarily under attack by enemies. He is not grieved by separation from those close to him. He has his family. He has his friends. He has his health and strength. His lot may be earthly prosperity and ease.
Yet his soul thirsts. Yet his flesh longs. His cry continues that he is in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. No matter how much he may eat of earthly food, his flesh still longs. No matter how much he may drink, his soul still thirsts. By that food and drink he receives strength and health for his body. In his soul he still hungers and thirsts.
For this is a spiritual hunger and thirst, having nothing to do with earthly meat and drink.
Into that spiritual side of this man let us enter.
Let us see him filled with all spiritual blessings. Let him be of a strong faith. Behold him in the sanctuary of God. There he hears the pure doctrine of the gospel preached. His hearing is the hearing of faith. He is filled with the knowledge of God’s grace to him. He knows the pardon of his sins. He knows the provision of God in all his need. He has the hope of everlasting glory.
Still he hungers and thirsts. Yes, he has seen God in the sanctuary. He has seen God’s power and glory. He has seen by faith.
Yet, for all that, his soul still thirsts and his flesh still longs.
Why? Why does his soul still thirst? Why does his flesh still long?
Because he lives in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
The dryness of that land enters into his soul. The emptiness of the earth makes his soul feel empty.
He looks around him, and finds nothing but desolation.
Do you see that desolation? Does its view make your soul thirsty and your flesh hungry?
Behold the multitudes of people that fill the earth. Consider them in all their ways and doings. See them in their labor. See them in their homes. See them in their recreation. See them laughing and smiling, talking excitedly about the day’s events. See them eating and drinking, enjoying the good things of life.
All this they do without God. All this they speak without a word to Him or about Him. No words of God’s power. No rejoicing in His glory. All that power they oppose. All that glory they suppress, trampling it underfoot.
It is a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
Turn your eyes elsewhere. Turn them to the beautiful cities built by man. Look upon the beautiful gardens. Gaze upon beautiful works of art, sculpture, and painting. Turn your ears to hear. Listen to beautiful music. Listen to the beautiful cadence of lyrical poetry. You will find plenty to fill the senses and enrapture the mind.
But you will also find that man attains all these accomplishments while ignoring God. Denying the very God that gave such gifts and talents to men, they defy His presence. Of his own works man boasts. His own talents and art he gladly displays. Man will bring glory to himself. He will ascribe none to God!
It is a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
Only one thing will satisfy. Only One will bring contentment and total satisfaction.
“O God, thou art my God!”
The soul of the child of God thirsts for God. His flesh longs for the living God. God is his delight, his hope, his happiness. God is his salvation, his rock, his refuge and strength.
This child has received rich blessings from God his Father. He has received the Holy Spirit of God in his heart. Through the Spirit he has received the gift of faith. Through faith he has received the forgiveness of sins and peace with God. He has received the precious gift of adoption into God’s household. He has received sanctification and preservation. He has the hope of glory within his heart. But this multitude of gifts only increases the thirst of his soul and the longing of his flesh.
His Father and sovereign Friend is the fountain of this multitude of blessings. That overflowing abundance the child of God traces back to its source. By those gifts he has learned much about the love and kindness of God towards him. By their abundance and richness, received through faith, he desires his God. His soul thirsts for God. His flesh longs for God, to see Him. Nothing else will do!
His soul thirsts to see God in His power. His flesh longs to see God in His glory.
That power and glory of God are presently hidden. Thus his thirst and longing.
There is one place where he has caught just a glimpse of that power and glory of God. That sight he received in the sanctuary. In that most blessed place God has placed His powerful, glorious name. There He has placed His great glory. We think of the words of Psalm 132:13, 14: “For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”
That sanctuary of God is the very place His child seeks. The sanctuary is the very place God has chosen to have His name and His truth declared. His child seeks that place. It is the place of God, his God. For that place his soul thirsts and his flesh longs. Entering the sanctuary, he enjoys blessed, sweet communion with his God. There he sees the truth and mercy of God displayed before his eyes. There the glorious deeds of God fill his ears. By faith he catches a glimpse of a most glorious and wonderful sight: the power and glory of God.
But in the sanctuary he cannot remain. He must needs go out into the world again. As soon as he steps out of the sanctuary the thirst burns in his soul. He wishes to see God’s power and glory as he saw it in the sanctuary. Wherever he might look with his eye, he desires to see that glory revealed. He longs to see God’s glory reflected in every person he meets. He thirsts to hear God’s power declared in every word he hears.
That burning desire cannot be satisfied in this dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
Neither can that earthly sanctuary bring full satisfaction. It is not the place where that power and glory of God are seen in their fullest manifestations. More of that power and glory is to be seen in the sanctuary than in the world. But that sight of God’s power and glory is yet through a glass, darkly.
So the soul still thirsts for God. The flesh still longs. In a dry and thirsty land the flesh longs for the extension of God’s power and glory over all the earth. The soul thirsts for God, to see His power and glory in the heavenly sanctuary. It desires the land where there is no more hunger and thirst. It craves the place where its hunger shall be fully satisfied and its thirst wholly quenched.
God will not neglect the longing flesh of His beloved. God will not leave His child’s soul in thirst. God has given him that hunger to be filled. God has given him that thirst to be quenched. Not in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To heaven’s glory God shall bring the longing flesh and thirsting soul of His child. God, his God, will satisfy him with the goodness and abundance of that blessed place.
In that heavenly sanctuary God will give His power and glory to be seen to the fullest degree. All His mighty works of power will be fully displayed in glory, displayed for His praise by all His saints. His glory will be reflected in the highest possible way in His elect, glorified people. His glory will fill the farthest reaches of heaven with its blessed light. He will give Himself to be praised and enjoyed to the highest degree for ever and ever.
In heaven all thirst is slaked, all hunger satiated. God completely satisfies the hunger and thirst of all His children. Fed by the display of God’s infinite power, nourished by the sight of God’s wonderful glory, fullness of joy is theirs for all eternity.
No more thirst of the soul. No more longing of the flesh. No longer a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Dry and thirsty no more!
Seek God! Thirst for Him! Long for Him! By Him your thirsty soul will be filled. By Him your longing flesh will be satisfied.