The sun beats down. The fatigue sets in. The food stores are depleted, and there hasn’t been fresh water for days. The wind howls, as do the jackals that have been trailing at a distance – better them than the king’s army looking for your blood. And the doubt sets in: you know that everything is failure. All hopes for your life are crumbling. The psalmist was in this position writing this psalm – a desperate, fearful, and lonely position.
The introduction to this psalm says, “A psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.” How tame! There are a lot of reasons that David might be in the wilderness, after all: perhaps David was visiting his family, or taking in the sights. Perhaps he was taking a retreat, or on a religious pilgrimage. He was a warrior; perhaps he was on a military campaign. There may be any number of explanations for David’s presence in the wilderness. We soon realize, though, that “in the wilderness” signifies more than just a place. ”In the wilderness” is also a state of being. The wilderness is a place of great unmet need, and along with unmet need, oppressive fear. David’s life is in extreme peril: if Saul’s army, chasing after him, does not kill him, the thirst will. If not the thirst, then the hunger. If not the hunger, then the exposure. He is trapped in the wilderness. We can imagine the overwhelming fear that David experienced.
- Psalm 63:1 - 8