Psalm 63 was written in the wilderness. Considering what he was experiencing helps us see why he uses the language he does. David likely wrote Psalm 63 either before he was king and fled from Saul (1 Sam. 23:14-15) or–more likely–while he was king but fled because of his son Absalom’s revolt (2 Sam. 15:24-17). In either case, he faced significant trials in the wilderness.
What i find interesting is how different David responds in the wilderness compared to Israel in the wilderness period from Exodus to Joshua. While Israel often responded in the wilderness with grumbling, unbelief, and idolatry, David responds in faith, trust, and confidence in God. We can learn from both examples, but David models for us how to trust God and grow in faith through the wilderness.
David’s wilderness experience reminds him his satisfaction and strength is found in God. The physical wilderness creates hungers and needs that allow him to feel the deeper desires and needs of his soul. What David desires most isn’t deliverance or provision; he wants more of God’s presence. The pounding sun of the desert wilderness doesn’t dry out David’s trust in God. It causes him to run to God for refuge and refreshment.
“There was no desert in his heart, though there was a desert around him. We too may expect to be cast into rough places…In such seasons, may the Eternal Comforter abide with us, and cause us to bless the Lord at all times, making even the solitary place to become a temple for Jehovah.” Charles Spurgeon
David’s Responses of Faith in the Wilderness (Psalm 63)
As you read through this list alongside Psalm 63, consider how you can learn from David and lean into trusting God in whatever wilderness season you might be walking through.
- He plants his trust and faith in God, whatever the circumstances might be (63:1).
- He earnestly seeks after and looks for God like a man thirsty in the desert searches for water (63:2). He seeks God early, often, and eagerly rather than when it’s convenient, on rare occasions, or out of duty.
- He allows his suffering, loss, absence, and needs (63:1)to stir his longings for good things again, whether it’s gathering again with God’s people (63:2) or finding God to be his source of satisfaction, sustenance, and strength (63:2-8).
- He recalls and believes in the truths about God he has tasted in the past (63:2, 6), such as his power and glory (2), steadfast love (63:3), his help (63:7), his protection and presence as a refuge (63:7), and being upheld (63:8).
- He chooses gratitude over grumbling and thanksgiving over complaining even though he might not choose the circumstances he’s in (63:3-4).
- He rehearses, sings, and declares to his own heart what is true rather than listening to the doubts, whispers, and lies that swirl in the wilderness (63:1, 4).
- He draws on God’s track-record and remembers God’s faithfulness to increase his trust today (63:6).
- He finds refuge in God and refreshment in his presence (63:7). Like a desert wanderer looking for a damp cave or shady tree, and like a young bird looking to find safety in his mother’s wings, David runs to God rather than running from him. God is his shelter, comfort, and defender.
- He doesn’t allow the wilderness to cause him to drift from God but to cling to him (63:8). The more desperate and dire the circumstances become the more desperate and dependent he becomes.
- He brings his cry to God—rather than complaining about or murmuring against God—and is confident God will deliver him from this trial (63:8-11).
- He doesn’t allow his present circumstances to diminish his view of God but allows his big view of God (63:1-8) to give perspective to his difficult circumstances (63:9-11). The God he trusts is bigger than the trials he faces.
 Charles Spurgeon, Psalm 63, Treasury of David. https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=spur&b=19&c=63. See also the sermon, “A Wilderness Cry,” https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/a-wilderness-cry#flipbook/.