I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
Several translations have added a heading for this psalm. Though the NIV has none, several of the translations I grew up with have called it something like “A prayer for deliverance”, with some adding “and guidance”. I was struck however by the heading the ESV translators decided on. “My Soul Thirsts for You”.
While the other translations seem to have summarised the overall tenor of this psalm, the ESV has zeroed in on the pivot and ultimate drive behind David’s pouring out of his soul.
What drives a man to pray like this? Is it his circumstances? The oppression by his enemy? The threat to his life? The acute awareness of his own sin? Well yes, all of these, but I think to be driven to call on God with such angst and urgency is ultimately driven by something deeper. Something that God saw when Samuel first visited Jesse to anoint one of his sons—David’s soul longs for God with a thirst, like a parched land.
While I am not fleeing from enemies or suffering from persecution, this Psalm has reminded me that I would do well to have a deeper thirst for God. I know the Lord’s grace, providence and many blessings, so it can be easy to feel content and blessed rather than hunger or thirst for God. Yet I don’t think thankfulness and thirst are mutually exclusive.
I am reminded of the song we sing Blessed be Your Name.
Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say
Blessed be the name of The Lord
Lord, increase my thirst for you, when I feel your blessing as well as when I need your deliverance and guidance.