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Psalm 63:1-3 KJV

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.

What exactly did the Psalmist have in mind here? What specific manifestations of "power and glory" did the Psalmist anticipate witnessing, as mentioned in Psalm 63:2? Can we pinpoint tangible experiences or phenomena that would fulfill this yearning for divine demonstration, rather than interpreting it solely as abstract or allegorical?

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    I would suggest that the question (and thus the answer) should focus on the preceding words 'so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary'. This previous experience will determine the character of the subsequent experience. The sanctuary, and all that that conveys, is the place of prior 'seeing' of the God of the psalmist. He first 'sees' God in a certain locality. Only then does he look for more - to see his power and his glory. It is the power and the glory of that God (aforeseen) which he longs for. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 10 at 15:02

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Seeing the Lord's power and glory is a profound spiritual encounter. In the sacred verses of Psalm 18, we witness David's powerful testimony well demonstrates his experience of it.

The foreword of Psalm 18 has this context: "For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:". Psalm 18 is attributed to David's later years, during his reign as king over the united kingdom. It serves as a resounding hymn of gratitude, celebrating God's remarkable deeds and abundant blessings to him. It's authenticity is underscored by its repetition in 2 Samuel 22, reinforcing David's heartfelt expression of praise and thanksgiving.

Psalm 18 opens with an acknowledgement of the Lord as David's source of strength and refuge. In moments of overwhelming distress, David consistently turned to the Lord, who unfailingly heard and responded to his cries. Not only the Lord rescue him from perilous situation, but He also bestowed victory in battles, causing David's enemies to submit to him. The psalm finished in David's exultant praise of the Lord, who anointed him as king and demonstrated enduring love toward him and his descendants.

David's life had two significant incidents of seeking refuge in the wilderness. The first instant occurred when he fled from Saul; while the second occurred during his flight from his son Absalom, later in his reign as king. Psalm 63 is likely referring to his 2nd escape, as it mentions the term "king" in verse 11. Additionally, Psalm 63 shares thematic connections with Psalm 61, 62 and 64, all of which have the theme of trusting God during perilous circumstances.

What tangible lessons can we learn from the Psalmist's experiences?

These lessons are not abstract or allegorical; they represent real, vivid spiritual encounters where the Psalmist, David, demonstrates that the Lord is the only source of power upon which a believer can truly rely. Despite being a king, David did not lean on his own strength. Instead, he humbly sought refuge and awaited the Lord's judgement, as foretold by the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:11, following his grievous sin of orchestrating Uriah's death.

It requires complete submission to the Lord that believers witness "The Lord's power and glory"

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The theme of the psalm is longing. The singer longs for God with his entire body and soul. Moreover, he longs to know God completely in all of his aspects. He wants to see God's power and glory because God's chesed (Strong's 2617 - love, mercy, lovingkindness) is "better than life." So we can conclude that he associates God's power and glory with God's love, and it is the experience of God's love that he longs for.

In the KJV and others, it seems the psalmist has tangibly experienced God's power and glory in sanctuary. However, other translators interpret this verse differently, so that it retains a sense of searchful longing:

  • ASV - So have I looked upon thee in the sanctuary, To see thy power and thy glory.

  • NABRE - I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.

In any case, since the psalmist associates God's power and glory with God's love, we can pinpoint any experience of God's love and mercy as fulfilling this yearning. The psalms are replete with references to such experiences.

Psalm 31:21

Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.

Although Psalm 63 is not attributed to David (as Ps. 31 is), it does conjure a similar feeling to what David experienced. The psalmist faces real enemies (v. 9-10), not just spiritual ones. He also refers to a dry and desert land (v. 1), where he recalls the LORD in the "watches of the night." (v. 6) One has the sense that he is a soldier or a priest with the army on night watch, remembering his experience in the sanctuary and meditating on God while he keeps vigil. Whether this is a literal situation or an allegory for the psalmist's spiritual situation, he expresses the same confidence that David did in God's power and love to deliver him.

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  • Do you know any other contexts where, in your opinion, power and glory are equated with love?
    – Mark
    Feb 11 at 16:18
  • Power yes, but not power and glory together. Psalm 59:16 says "But I will sing of Thy power, yea, I will sing aloud of Thy mercy in the morning." As with PS 63, the word for mercy is also translated as love, lovingkindness, etc. Feb 11 at 16:54

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