A Thirsty Soul
Pastor Jon Hueni | February 7, 2021
Scripture reading- Psalm 63
You'll want to keep your Bibles open to Psalm 63. Solve this riddle if you can. What am I? Everyone has one. I never die, cease to exist, cannot be seen, I'm easily neglected, but not easily satisfied. What am I? I hear some "sss". Anybody gonna be bold enough to say what "sss" means? Soul. Good for you. I am your soul. Everyone has one. I never die or cease to exist. I cannot be seen. I'm easily neglected but not easily satisfied. Soul- in Greek psuché, from which we get psychology. The study of the soul.
Now God made you a body-soul creature. Your body is not all that there is to you. And you know that. But what do you know about your soul? We obviously know much more about our bodies than our souls, because we can observe them, can't we? We can even go inside our bodies with our sophisticated machines and see them up close and we can open our bodies up and go inside with surgeries and autopsies to study the body. And yet there are still amazing mysteries about the body that man does not know. Advances in science and technology and biology enable us to learn more and more, but still the wisest of men have mysteries that they do not understand about the body. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made", as David said, but undiscovered mysteries about the body are far surpassed by undiscovered mysteries about the soul...because the soul is immaterial, non physical, not seen, and because it's invisible, and not only to our naked eye, but to all of our sophisticated machines. There is no x-ray or MRI of the soul is there? Therefore, man's knowledge about the soul is greatly limited. And for this we're shut up to our maker that he might teach us about our soul, which he's made.
In His word, we learn that the soul, sometimes referred to as the spirit, as Pastor Jason was referring, or the heart. It's the control center of the personality. And so it includes the mind...not the brain...that's the physical part, but the mind, as it thinks and reasons and reflects. It includes the affections, the emotions... as they feel and desire and love and hate and rejoice and grieve and fear. It includes the will as it purposes and chooses and decides. And it includes the conscience as it accuses, or it excuses our behavior... condemning or vindicating us. And it's this soul that God has made in every one of us that is the capacity by which we can know God and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. This soul was made by God and for God. Indeed, the soul was made to be the dwelling place of God, the home where God dwells. As I thought of that I realized that that's how our departed loved ones who died in the Lord are able, even now, without their bodies, to enjoy God, to perceive him, to rejoice in him. Their now perfected souls are able to enjoy God even far better than they enjoyed Him while on this earth when their soul was not perfected. At Christ's return their bodies will be raised in perfection and joined to their perfected souls, and forever they will enjoy God in a new heaven and a new earth... body-soul...in the presence of the Lord.
Now you remember that man's fall into sin has affected every part of him, both body and soul. And even so, Christ's redemption will never be finished until He has fully redeemed both the bodies and the souls of His people. So we come to Psalm 63. I want you to notice what David has to say about the soul. He makes three statements about the soul in this Psalm: First of all, the soul thirsting: Verse 1-"My soul thirsts for you". Secondly, the soul satisfied: Verse 5-"My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods". And then thirdly, the soul clinging: Verse 8-"My soul clings to you". So first of all this morning...and this is where we're going to spend most of the time, so don't get worried when we're almost done and we haven't got to point two...the soul thirsting. The soul thirsting. Verse 1-"God, you are my God, earnestly I seek You. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water". I want you to know that the soul of man is thirsty. David's using something that is known to the body to explain something that is felt in the soul. He gives us truth about spiritual things by speaking of physical things. So he speaks of a physical thirst, which we're all familiar with. This thirst is what makes us go to the faucets or to the fridge to satisfy it. Now what causes physical thirst? It's not so much the presence of something as it is the absence of something, isn't it? The absence of something, the lack of something that the body was made for. Our bodies need water. They were made for water. And when we're lacking water, it registers to us as thirst. A lack. It seems that David's surroundings when he wrote this Psalm actually contributed to how he's talking to us in it. Did you notice the title? It's the Psalm of David when he was in the desert of Judah. So David's surroundings were a desert. And so he says, "Oh God, my soul thirsts for you in a dry and weary land where there's no water"... so it's dry and weary desert land. That's a combination for thirst, isn't it? A dry land without water. So David is saying, that's a picture of my soul thirsting after God out here in the desert as I'm shut out from the means of grace that I once enjoyed in the sanctuary. Where I drank of Him, where I communed with Him, where I was refreshed by Him in public worship. For David, it included the sacrificial system...the gospel preached in Old Testament types. Of the innocent sacrifice dying in the place of the guilty sinner. David says, “I went into the sanctuary, and there I tasted and drank and was satisfied.” The sung praises of God, the Word of God read and taught by the priest, fellowship with like-minded saints. Yes, verses 2&3, “I've seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory and experienced Your love that is that is better than life. Many times, my thirst for God has been satisfied there, but now I'm in the desert, far from the sanctuary”, and David finds his soul panting and thirsting after God.
So, David soul is thirsty and it's a blessing that he knows what his soul is thirsty for. Most people don't. They don't know what their soul is thirsty for. Most don't even think about their soul. As I said, it's easily neglected because it’s unseen. Some even deny that they have a soul. But none of that means that they don't have a soul and that it's not thirsty, because God made them with a soul. Sometimes that thirst in man is felt more keenly than others, but until God fills it and satisfies it, thirst remains. Paul, I believe testifies to this when he came to Athens in chapter 17 of the book of Acts on his missionary journey. And as he came into Athens, he saw many altars to many gods. He says, "I even found one to an unknown God". In other words, if men do not worship the One true and living God, it doesn't mean that they will worship no god. That they're irreligious. No, as Paul Tripp says, "We are hardwired for worship". We were created worshippers. The very makeup of our soul is to worship. And yes, we were created to worship our creator God. And if we'll not worship Him, we will find God-substitutes and replacements for Him. But it is this irrepressible drive to worship something, even if it's ourselves, that is the thirst. The thirst of a being that was created for God, who is without God.
Augustine, in his confessions back in the year 400 A.D. says to God, "You have made us for yourself, Oh, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you". He speaks of a man's thirsty soul as a restless heart. And if our hearts were made for God... fellowship with Him, right relationship with Him, dependence upon Him... then to be without God means our hearts are gonna feel that void and not be at rest until we have that God, and have Him as our God in Jesus Christ. For many, many years, Augustine tried to fill that lack of God. He tried essential pleasures, tried learning, knowledge, education, philosophy. He kept coming up empty and found no real satisfaction. He was still a restless, thirsty soul until he came to know God through faith in Jesus Christ. Then his soul found its resting place, and that's what he's testifying to in his testimony called The Confessions. The soul's thirsty, but fallen man seeks to satisfy it in anything and with everything except God, whom he hates and whom he runs from.
In the 17th century Blaise Pascal wrote a defense of the Christian religion. And he spoke of this thirst, this craving, as something that indicates that there was once in man a true happiness of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace. There was once this fullness of joy and happiness in the soul of man that now is lost, and all that's left is a print...a footprint. So kids, if you come upon a footprint in the woods, what does that tell you? It tells you that something or someone was there at one time, and it's no longer there. But the print proves that it used to be there. And that's what Pascal was saying...that this thirst and longing in the heart and soul of man is like a footprint that proves that something or someone used to be there. That mankind was once created and enjoyed fellowship with this God, which now he is lacking. And so, Pascal says man tries in vain to fill this emptiness with everything around him, but nothing can help since the infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and the immutable object. In other words, by God himself. If the void is infinite, the only One who can fill it must be infinite. And that's caused others to speak of this God-shaped blank in our heart, as if the soul itself, to illustrate the point, is in the shape of God and therefore no matter what you stick in there, it will not satisfy until it's God himself who comes and fills the soul that He created. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has put eternity in the heart of man. No wonder the things of time cannot fill and satisfy us but leave us thirsty still. We're trying to fill eternal desires with temporal things.
C S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says, " if I find in myself a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world". If God has created me with desires that can't be fulfilled here, it's probable that I was made for a different world where that desire would be satisfied. And though most men do not realize that what their souls are thirsting for is an eternal relationship with God their Maker... to be right with God through Jesus Christ...they do have a sense that something's missing. Something's missing, an emptiness that nothing can satisfy, a thirst that remains. Sometimes, again, they feel it more acutely than others. And it's true that sinners are experts at telling themselves that all is well when it really isn't. So you're going on vacation and when making reservations you're told that your hotel has a swimming pool. And you get there and there's no water in the pool and immediately you say something's missing, something's missing. You go to the zoo, and there are no animals there and instinctively you say something's missing, something's missing here. It's because swimming pools are made for water, and zoos are made for animals. And men and women, boys and girls were made for God...and when God's not there in the soul of man, something's missing.
Tom Brady is attempting to win his 7th Super Bowl ring tonight. Winning just one national championship is a feat that probably most professional athletes, in whatever sport, never accomplish and Brady has had that experience six times. Last time was 2019, and after winning one of those championship rings Brady was being interviewed. And in a moment of transparency, he confessed that the emotional high of the big victory doesn't last long, but it's soon gone. And he concluded that there must be something more to life than football and he hoped to find out what that was for him. Now that was a revealing admission that something's missing. I wanted to reach out and say, "Oh, Tom, you will never be satisfied. You will never find what is missing until you come to know God through Jesus Christ, His son". How many are climbing mountains that they think, "On the top of this mountain I will find something missing?" Mountains of achievement, of wealth and possessions, sensual pleasures, ease, popularity, fame, and power. And sadly most people climb their whole lifetime without ever getting to the top. Which if they did, they would be disappointed to find it is not there. But they look around and they see others who have made it to the top and they seem happy. They seem like they've arrived and they have found the missing something. Others, like Brady, have made it to the top. And if we would listen, we would hear them saying there's still something missing...it's not found here in these mountains of success. Man made for God can't get no satisfaction with anything less than God himself...true, full, eternal, lasting satisfaction.
The teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes...he journaled his search to quench this thirst for that missing something. And he was in a unique position to make this search because he was the king with vast wealth and resources and power sufficient to search out the matter. Again, as we said, most people are climbing their whole life and never make it to the top. But this man had the resources to get to the top of many mountains. So he sets out to quench his thirst with learning and he applied himself and achieved great understanding and wisdom about all sorts of things, only to find out in the end that it was still meaningless. Vanity, vanity. And so on with the next place or sensual pleasure. The next mountain, feasting and women, laughter, and entertainments, and ease, and denying himself nothing that he desires...only to find no satisfaction at the top of that mountain either. So, on to building his wealth with work projects and all kinds of accomplishments. He made it to the top of these mountains that most men only dream of reaching. But what he found was vanity of vanity. All is vanity. A chasing after the wind. Nothing solid to satisfy the soul's thirst. And so why is the book of Ecclesiastes in our Bibles? Why? Why coming thousands of years later do we open the Bible and read this man's search? He would save us the trouble...the trouble of climbing and trying to find this something missing by telling us, I've made it to the top of your mountain that you're seeking. There's nothing there to satisfy the soul. "Here's the conclusion of the matter", he says at the end of his book, "Fear, God and keep His commandments". That's what you were made for...relationship with God. And only there do you find what you were made for and meant for.
So in John chapter 4, there's a Samaritan woman who bumps into Jesus at the well outside of Sychar, and there's this wonderful back and forth between the body's thirst for water and the soul's thirst for living water as Jesus talks to her. She came to the well to get water for her body but her soul was also thirsty...and Jesus knew it. So he engages her in conversation. She's been trying to satisfy her thirsty soul with the right man. And Jesus knew all about that as well. He knew that she had had five husbands and was now shacking up with the next man that she was not married to. She doesn't realize it but there's no man on earth who could possibly satisfy her soul. It's like trying to satisfy soul-thirst with physical water. That doesn't work, does it? With something physical....another man, better than the last man, the right relationship, someone who's totally into me. “I want to be caught up in this perfect love that never fades.” That's what she's thirsting for. And if we're honest, that's what we're all thirsting for. To be loved perfectly and to love perfectly back. To be lost in the wonder of loving and being loved. And the best of earthly loves come short and are but faint pointers to the Lover of our soul and perfect love.
So if a man came to you, he's just come right out of the desert. He's been walking for two days. He hasn't had a drink of water. His tongue is parched like mine is right now, and instead of giving him water you just talk to him and you say, "now try to imagine a fountain of water." Did you cure his thirst? No, You can't cure physical thirst with something spiritual or in the sense of thinking about it, imagining it in your mind. No, physical thirst needs physical water to satisfy it. And in the same way soul-thirst requires soul refreshing water and cannot be satisfied by anything merely physical. And yet sadly, people turn to what is physical to try to satisfy something that's spiritual thirst. No, we need soul food for the hungry soul. So here she is at the well with her jar to fetch some water. Jesus knows what she's missing and thirsting after; what He made her for. And so He says, "Whoever drinks from this water", the physical water, "will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst". Now He's talking about Spiritual water. Spiritual thirst. Indeed, He says, "The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life". That's it. The water of salvation. The water of being right with God. Of knowing my sins are forgiven. My heaven is secure. The spirit of God dwelling in me like a well of water pouring up its waters of life. Eternal life, which is to know Jesus Christ and the One who sent him. Well, she came to believe on the Lord Jesus as her Savior and Messiah and she found what she'd been thirsty for and missing all her life. No, not the physical water. She left her water pot in the excitement of what spiritual water she'd found. No, not another man...she had found the Messiah. The only Savior for sinners. And her soul was now satisfied and she ran throughout the town of Sychar, "Come see a Man who told me everything I'd ever done and Who has satisfied my thirst". And they poured out and heard Him and believed. To be right with God through faith in Jesus. He's the only true thirst-quenching Savior.
Now Isaiah also speaks to the way that men tried to satisfy their hunger and thirst for God. He says, "They turned to other gods." And he was charging Israel with the very thing..."You know that God is the place for satisfaction and you turn aside to Baal and Ashtoreths and all these other gods." Imaginary gods, idol substitutes for the real God and then this is what he says about the idolaters. Isaiah 44:20, "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him: He cannot save himself, or say, "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?" What's in his hand is an idol and he's expecting to receive from that idol what can only be found in God. And he says, "You know what that's like. It's like a man eating ashes." What if you came upon a man and you said, " What you're having for supper there is big bowl of ashes. You're never gonna be satisfied with that. There is not in the ashes what you need to satisfy your body's hunger." Isaiah is saying "There is not in any god-substitute what can only be found in God Himself. You are made for God. Can you not see? Are you so deluded that what you're eating and what you're seeking help from is ashes? Unsatisfying ashes", or as Jeremiah says, "You're going to broken cisterns that can't hold water instead of coming to the fountain of life Himself. Come to Christ and look no longer." Well, that's the soul thirsting. It's a blessing, if like David, you know what your soul is thirsty for.
Very briefly, secondly- the soul satisfied. Verse 5 says, "My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You." I told you, the soul is not easily satisfied. It can be satisfied with nothing but God himself. But David knows that. And he knows where to go for a hungering and thirsting soul. His God--the only true soul food to satisfy the hungry soul. And the satisfaction he talks about, no this is not some tasteless gruel that just fills the belly and sticks to your ribs. No, not at all. He says it's like the satisfaction and enjoyment of God himself like you get from feasting on the richest foods. Something that overwhelms your taste buds. Thoroughly delights you. That's the kind of satisfaction I have in my God. Exquisite delight in His presence. To see His glory, to see His power, to experience His love. And the joy of a satisfied soul produces singing lips. "A soul satisfied with singing lips, my mouth will praise you." Verse 6 tells us that David finds God to be a feast always within reach. Even at night. Even at night he remembers him and feasts upon him on his bed. He feasts on God through the watches of the night, and God gives him much help in such security and protection and satisfaction that it gives him songs in the night. Anyone can sing when the sun is shining bright, but God gives a song in his heart in the night. In the nighttime when you can't see the next step. In the nighttime when grief has struck your soul. There is joy in God, a satisfaction in God that gives you a song in the night. The soul has found in Christ the glory that never grows old, an inheritance that never perishes, spoils, or fades. The soul has found in God a love that is better than life. That keeps getting better and better. The kind of love we long to be (have) in a relationship with someone. A fullness of joy in His presence; inexpressible and glorious joy. Pleasures at His right hand that last forever.
Now, what are your pleasures of sin for a season compared with pleasures forevermore? You see, a soul is not easily satisfied. God alone knows how to satisfy and complete your soul to make you as happy as a human being could ever be. David found it so, and so have many others. Bernard of Clairvaux says, Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts, Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men, From the best bliss that earth imparts, We turn unfilled to Thee again We turn thirsty to You again. Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, Where’er our changeful lot is cast; Glad when Thy gracious smile we see, Blest, when our faith can hold Thee fast. That's it. The soul satisfied in God alone. And that's why those who have satisfied their souls on Christ never want to let go of him.
And that's our third point- the soul clinging. Verse 8, "My soul clings to you, Your right hand upholds me." How does a soul cling? You see again what David does is he takes the physical to explain and illustrate the spiritual. He's doing it all the way through here. With the thirst for water, with the satisfaction of a rich feast. Oh, and now with clinging. I don't know how a soul clings, but I know how a hand clings. Hand-clinging is not a loose grip. It's somebody that's holding on for dear life, we say, or with a death grip. He will not let go. My soul clings to you. It's the same word used in Genesis 2:24 of what you men who are married have done, I trust. "That for this reason, (marriage) a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife". Be glued to her. Hold to her. Not let her go. That's the word. And David says, "My soul cleaves to You." He's found so much joy and peace and love in Him that he doesn't want to let go for anything. "Something even better is that when my grip is not so strong, You, by your right hand, uphold me. I'm held in Your omnipotent grip." I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost: Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God. Bought by such love, my life is not my own. My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.
So it's 1,000 years after David wrote Psalm 63. And in Jerusalem, in the temple precincts, on the last day...the greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles, David's Son and David's Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stood up, and He said with a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scriptures have said, streams of living water will flow from within Him, and by this, He meant the Spirit". Friends, Jesus knows you are thirsty. Remember He made you. And He knows what you are thirsty for. It's for HIM. Eternal life, sins forgiven, peace with God, right relationship. To know Him and enjoy Him. And He here invites you to come to Him and drink. Folks, He's as present today as He was that day. That day physically present in the temple. Today, Spiritually present with us, and He's making the same invitation. Notice how inclusive it is. If anyone is thirsty. Is that you? Been trying to fill that thirst with all that you can stuff in from the world, and it still leaves you thirsty? Unsatisfied, restless? If anyone is thirsty. And again, He says, Whoever... whoever believes in Me, whoever you are, whatever you've done, however long you've been thirsty and trying to fill it with yourself. Whoever believes in Me. Anyone who's thirsty, come and believe. Come to Me and satisfy your thirst.
Notice He doesn't send you away. Say, "get your life all in order first", and to find righteousness, right standing with God by your hard works or your religious rituals. No, He says, "Right now you come to me just as you are...a thirsty, burdened sinner... come to Me and drink. It's not found out there, it's only found here. I have what you need. I AM what you need, so come to me. Just do an about face. You've been trying to fill the soul with all this... just repent. Just renounce all your God replacements and just come to Me. Just come to Me... and drink, and find satisfaction. Find what you really are thirsty for. I'm the fountain of living water. The only soul satisfying water to be found anywhere". And this is the Son of God giving you an invitation to satisfy your thirst. And He makes a promise to you. Imagine that! The Son of God, making a promise to thirsty sinners who turn their back on Him and go on trying to fill their cup with other things. And He says in His promise, "Come to me and satisfy your thirst because 'Whoever believes in me,” as Scripture has said, “rivers of living water will flow from within him.'" And by this He means the Spirit. Whoever believes. You know, that's what it means to come to Jesus and drink is to believe on Him. Who He is. He's the Son of God. He's the only perfect substitute, able to take the punishment for my sins and set me free and make me right with God. That's who He is. He's Jesus, God's Messiah, Savior, and “whoever believes in Me”, you must believe in Him and believe in His word, His promise, what He's done for sinners....dying on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. But also believe His promise. You just take Him at His word. He said, "Come and drink. And you'll be satisfied." As it's written…this is the Word of God, "...streams of living water will flow from within Him." That's the soul, the within, the innermost part. You'll find water springing up from within and satisfying him. “And by this He meant the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, you see? That's what we were meant for... to be the home and dwelling place of God. And He says, "if you trust in Me and believe that I can take care of all of your problems, your sin problems with God and make you right with Him. You come and drink of Me and and you'll find the reality of God Himself coming to dwell in you by His Spirit".
That's the Living Water. The new life that He brings. The everlasting life of knowing God through Jesus Christ. And where before there was emptiness, now you'll know fullness, because when the Spirit of God comes to indwell you, you now have what? The very life of God in the soul of man. And that's where there's satisfaction. That's what you were made for. So end your search today. You have a thirsty soul? Jesus says, "Come to Me and drink". You have a weary, burdened soul? Burdened with the weight of sin and guilt, bondage and coming judgment? Jesus says the same thing. "Come to me. And I will give you rest for your soul". Oh, there's rest from this striving, weary, burdened soul? "Yes, it's Me. Come to Me".
So let me ask you, what are you doing for your soul? What are you doing for your soul? You do so much for your body. You've already done so much for your body today. You're gonna go home and do so much more for it. When it's hungry, you'll feed it. When it's thirsty, you'll give it something to drink. When it's cold, you will turn the heat up and grab some wrap and keep yourself warm. You'll exercise it and you'll give it the right diet. You'll do all kinds of things to rest the body and give it ease and sleep and so on. What have you done for your soul? You know, the sad picture the Bible paints for us is a world that's into the body and care for the body. The soul doesn't get so much as a bone thrown to it. It's easily neglected. But hear me, do you know that your body will follow your soul, either to everlasting heaven or everlasting hell? Your body that you care so much about down here, it's gonna follow your soul. When you die your body goes in the ground, and your soul goes to be judged and sent either to heaven or to hell. But in the day when Jesus returns your body's gonna follow your soul and be reunited with your soul and go forever to heaven or forever to hell. Can you see the importance of your soul being right with God through the Lord Jesus Christ? As goes the soul, so goes your body for eternity.
It's interesting that one of the torments of hell is an unquenchable thirst. We come to Calvary and there we see what hell is because that's what Jesus was taking for us. And He says, "I thirst". And the physical pain, the physical shame, the physical thirst, the physical darkness, the physical abandonment...it's an outward picture again from the physical of what's going on in the spirit of our Savior. When he says, "I thirst", He's bearing the thirst that we deserve to feel forever and ever. The thirst of desire that is never satisfied. And it's because Jesus thirsted and refused to drink anything to quench that thirst, because we deserved unquenchable thirst forever, and Jesus bore that thirst on the cross that He might then stand before us today and say, "If anyone's thirsty now, let him come to Me and drink. I suffered the thirst you should have suffered forever". Now come and drink of Living Water. Now come and drink of Him. If you'd love to talk further, and want to know more about this thirst quenching Savior, I have nothing more in life that I would rather do. But I beg you to have pity on your soul today. And to come to this Savior, and let Him make you happier than you have ever been. And that forever.