Sunday, November 29, 2015

My soul has thirsted for You

 O God, my God, to You I rise early at dawn.
My soul has thirsted for You;
how often my flesh has longed for You,
in a desert land, parched and impenetrable.
(Psalm 63:1)
David calls out to God twice, adding in the second instance the possessive pronoun «my». His heart is wholly consumed by the love of God; he can find no rest. He seeks to satisfy his desire by invoking the divine name over and over. Expressing the depth of his relationship with God, he says «O God, my God» with the same love and devotion that a small child might say «Mamma, my Mamma». Psalm 63 is a love song, a canticle of desire for God. For the singer of such a song, God is an utterly concrete and compelling reality. And so David speaks to Him, cries to Him, and at the same time searches after Him, as if he were crying out: Have you seen Him Whom my heart loves? (cf. Song 3:3). Where is God? Where has He gone? The psalmist is deeply troubled. God had been his friend; he knew Him well and encountered Him often. His only desire was to live with Him always. That’s why he cries out to Him, why he calls upon Him so simply and so directly, saying my God, my God.
To You I rise early at dawn. «Early in the morning I address myself to You; I pray to You». What does it mean to rise early at dawn? In the first place, «dawn» (ὄρθρος) was the name given to the second-to-last shift of the night watch kept by the ancient Israelites. This means that David is speaking to God very late at night, just before the break of day, before the rising of the sun. But David is a king, burdened with the cares of office: shouldn’t he be sleeping at such an hour? Of course he should, for sleep is sweet. But is there anything sweeter than prayer, which is an encounter with God? The Hebrew text lends an additional element to this, since the phrase, to You I rise early at dawn, also means, «even though it is still night, I search for you with warmth and ardor». Sleeplessly, therefore, the psalmist seeks God. He can find no rest. He searches for God in the small hours of the night, in the early hours of the morning. And where is David at this time? Is he safe in his palace, attending to the affairs of state, meditating on God throughout the day, and now searching for Him at night? No. He is in the desert, pursued by Absalom, his son. He is being hunted like an animal by a band of conspirators and rebels (cf. 2 Sam 15:1-23).5 He is hungry, thirsty, stripped of his royal garments, and in peril from desert storms and violent men. And yet he asks neither for deliverance from this desperate situation nor for the punishment of his enemies. He seeks only God.
- Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, Psalms and the Life of Faith

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