ODJ: A Feast in the Desert

October 1, 2018 

READ: Psalm 63:1-11 

I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely (v.8).

Author and pastor Eugene Peterson has offered some profound cautionary words for those seeking to know God. In Subversive Spirituality, he warns Bible college students that although theological education is designed to train hearts to pursue God, far too easily “human words about the divine Word . . . threaten to upstage the Logos [Christ] itself.” When that happens, students can become addicted to head knowledge about God instead of actually drawing closer to God. Bible college—a time designed to draw persons pursuing ministry closer to Him—can instead feel like a spiritual desert.

Peterson’s warning reminds us that there’s a real difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Many of the scribes and Pharisees knew a great deal about God, yet lacked the humility to receive Jesus when He came (Matthew 3:7-10). And James warned believers that faith that’s merely belief in God but doesn’t lead to loving obedience and care for others is a false faith, no better than the ‘faith’ of demons! (2:19-25).

Psalm 63 is an illustration of how different true faith is. In it, David describes knowing God so intimately that He is a part of every aspect of our lives. In good times and bad, David had learned how to draw near to God. On sleepless nights, he’d trained himself to “lie awake thinking of [God], meditating on [Him] through the night” (v.6).

Because of firsthand knowledge gained from years of drawing near to God, David knew that His presence and love is more satisfying than “the richest feast” (v.5), “better than life itself” (v.3)—a love that satisfies even in a “parched and weary land where there is no water” (v.1).

—Monica Brands

365-day plan: John 20:24-21:14

Read Isaiah 43:19 and consider what God promised Israel and how He can “create rivers” of spiritual vitality in your heart today. 
Why do you think we often settle for knowledge about God instead of learning to draw near to Him? When have you experienced His presence most powerfully?