“My soul follow[s] hard after thee: thy right hand uphold[s] me” (Psalms 63:8).
This is a song written by David during a time in his life when not too many things were going his way. The ruling king, Saul, had set up a manhunt against David. He was trying to find him and kill him. This drove David out into the wilderness.
The barrenness of his surroundings is apparent in the first verse of this chapter.
“O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
David had been through a lot at this point in his life. He had chased off lions and bears who were trying to kill his father’s sheep. He killed a giant and helped the Israelite army chase down the Philistine army. And now David was hiding in the wilderness from a crazy king who was trying to kill him.
We know that David would have more troubles in his life: his sin with Bathsheba, the death of at least three sons, punishment from God for taking a census, his kingdom being ripped from his hands by his own son. These are just a few of the troubles David faced. Many of them were consequences of his poor choices.
If all these troubles and bad choices led David through so much in his life, why does Acts 13:22 refer to David as a man after God’s own heart? I think the verse we opened with is key. Psalm 63:8, “My soul follow[s] hard after thee: thy right hand uphold[s] me.”
David followed hard after God. Other translations say, “I cling to you,” or “my soul clings to you.” These help clarify how much David relied on God. They point out how much satisfaction David found in staying close to God.
Earlier in this chapter, he said, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself” (verse 3a). This theme shows up in many areas of David’s life. Not just in his times of triumph, but in the lowest of times also.
In Psalm 51, we see how David called out to God after his sin with Bathsheba.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”
David was constantly calling out to God. He knew that God would not reject a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17). He was constantly aware of how God was watching over him (Psalm23). This is how we can follow hard after God in our lives.
How close are we to God? How closely are we following Him? My father was the preacher at the church where I grew up, and I remember this illustration he used to give. He told of an elderly couple, riding in their car (you know the kind, with the full bench seat in the front). The wife looked over at her husband and said, “Do you remember when we were dating, how we would always sit so close to each other? Why don’t we still do that?”
The husband looked back from the driver’s seat and said, “I haven’t moved.”
In James 4:8, we are reminded that in order for God to come close to us, we need to follow hard after Him. We all desire this closeness with God. We want intimacy with Him. We long for His touch and crave a deep relationship with God. How do we achieve it? We can take David’s example: Draw close to God and cling to Him.
Follow hard after God.
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