As I read Psalm 63 this morning, my eyes were led to the introduction: “A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” How interesting, I thought. Judah means ‘praise’. But is there ever a wilderness in praise?
In much of today’s praise and worship teachings, we have been taught to keep praising no matter what. Praise will lift our spirits, we are told. And like Jesoshaphat, high praise can even secure a mighty victory for us. So when you are feeling down and out, praise and worship is the answer. Well, nothing wrong with these points. But try telling that to King David in the wilderness of Judah, in the dryness of praise.
It’s happened to me before, and I guess you might have had the same experience. Tired and worn out, I determined to get into high praise for my breakthrough. The worship band strikes up, the worship set gets going and I am praising my guts out! Wow, that felt really good … for the moment. And soon after, I am down and out again. Yes, you guessed it. I am right smack in the wilderness of Judah, in the dryness of praise. And no amount of jumping or clapping is going to change anything. Am I then wrong to think that I can sing and clap myself out of my present predicament? Not exactly. But more accurately, it is not the activity of praise but the focus of my praise that needs an alignment check. Ever so subtly, I can miss praising and worshipping God, and end up praising and worshipping praise and worship!
David cries out in Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; early I will seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” In the next verse, he presents the key … seeking God in His presence and encountering God’s power and glory!
However attractive or convenient the praise and worship industry has made it, there is simply no replacement to the presence of God! This cannot be created, generated or hyped up at all. To be sure, what we need is not a savvy worship concert, sophisticated sound systems or hip-hop cheerleaders. What we desperately need is precious time with the Lord in His sanctuary, in His presence. In the wilderness of Judah, David knew that deep within his soul and he looked for God with that hunger and thirst. David didn’t praise God that He may be found. Instead, he sought to find God that he may then praise Him! Communion with God so satisfied his soul that praise naturally flowed out of his mouth and lips (v5). To David, praise was not merely a remedy for dryness in his soul but a response to fulfilment in his God!
Are you in the wilderness of Judah? Is there dryness in your praise and worship? Look for God in His sanctuary. Press in and dig deep until you receive the rivers of living waters that overflows! Then with joyful lips, praise Him, worship Him, exalt Him, extol Him!