I Am Never Satisfied
I Am Never Satisfied
Psalm 17:13-15 is David’s prayer to God for deliverance from godless people who surround him. David describes them as,
...men of the world,
Whose portion is in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.
The godless one is filled with treasure but note that it is “Your treasure.” Sadly, the godless one does not recognize that God Himself is providing these blessings, whether directly or indirectly. God “causes His Sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). A little thanksgiving would be appropriate!
The godless one is “a man of the world.” His mindset is focused on the things of the world; a bigger paycheck, a faster car. His “portion is in this life.” We might ask ourselves why God sees fit to reward such efforts with success. After all, wouldn’t it be better if God piled riches in the lap of the Christian, and heaped calamity on the head of the wicked man? But that’s not the way God has arranged the world. God rarely rewards faith with worldly things. The Christian’s portion is above. The worldly man’s portion is the world.
There is no doubt that a person so thoroughly focused on things of the world succeeds in worldly things, by the same mathematics that a player who practices free throws on the basketball court improves his free throw percentage. We tend to hit what we aim at. If we focus on the world, we make our place in it more secure. So, the “man of the world” may become very successful, accomplish great things, accumulate a lot of wealth, and fold his hands in rest with the adulation of his neighbors. In fact, verse 14 sounds like a very respectable funeral epitaph— “he built a fruitful career, won awards for many great things, enjoyed a comfortable retirement, had lots of children, and divided a substantial inheritance among them.”
A key to the contrast between the worldly man and the godly man is the word “satisfied,” which appears in both verses. The worldly man is satisfied with the bounty of the world. But the godly man is not satisfied. Now, don’t misunderstand—it’s not that he is discontent or unthankful. Far from it! He appreciates every blessing that comes from God. But earthbound things are not his aim. The things of the world aren’t the object of his truest affection.
Such success often is not the case for those focused on heaven. I fear that the church has made participation in the upper middle class the evidence and aim of a strong faith! May the body of Christ come to learn that the American Dream is not “the goal of our instruction” (1 Tim. 1:5).
The world has some lovely things. But none of them can satisfy. When you get back from the vacation of a lifetime, what do you do? Start planning the next one! When you finish the meal of a lifetime, what do you do the next morning? Start cooking breakfast! C. S. Lewis states in The Problem of Pain, “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world... Security would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and become an obstacle to our return to God. But a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
How different is David’s description of the godly person’s motivations and priorities!
As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake (17:15).
David is looking forward to seeing God’s face. And nothing at all will satisfy until he arrives at that moment in his existence when he stands before God to behold His glorious likeness (Matthew 5:8, Revelation 22:3). He won’t be tricked by the fake; he wants the real. Like all godly pilgrims, David seeks a kingdom that is permanent (Heb. 11:16).
Who cares about the body, except to use it to serve God, and eventually see it clothed with the robes of the redeemed, with the resurrection body? Until then, we groan in this tent, unfulfilled, (2 Cor. 5:2-4). Who cares about gadgets when the real excitement is in the kingdom above? We can hardly imagine how good it’s going to be (2 Cor. 2:9). Until I possess that, I will be unsatisfied. “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). What use is it to check off everything from your bucket list, but miss out on the greatest adventure of all? I love forests and mountains, but I will never be satisfied until I see the city with the streets of God and the Lamb illuminating the whole!
Note that David says, “I shall behold Your face in righteousness.” The Christian knows the only way he will get to enjoy what he longs for is to fix the sin problem. Redemption is the gift of God, which comes through the blood of Christ. One day we will stand before God without shame, so that we may enter into His glorious presence.
In fact, David ends this psalm in a special way. “I will be satisfied with your likeness when I awake.” It is possible David simply meant “the next day” (compare “by night” in 17:3). But for us as Christians, it reminds us of the coming to life that is promised in the resurrection. It reminds us to focus on the greater blessings of eternity, rather than the futile trinkets of the world.