Something Better Than Life Itself

Your steadfast love is better than life.
— Psalm 63:3 ESV

Thomas Brooks said, "No man sets so high a price upon the sun as he that has long lain in a dark dungeon." In Psalm 63 we find David in a dungeon, walled in by the dry, dusty desert.

The back story is interesting. Most likely, David wrote this when he was on the run from Absalom, his own son (2 Samuel 15:13-23). Imagine David's hurt, heartache, and embarrassment. He is a father estranged from his son, a king pushed out of his kingdom, a leader who is not leading.

At this point David is a weak man, but that is good. Weak men understand their need for God. David cries out:

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
— Psalm 63:1-4 ESV

If I put myself in David's shoes, I want my son back, I want my kingdom back, I want my life back. Can someone give me normal please! Not David. David wanted God. To David, God's steadfast love was better than his son, better than his kingdom, better than life itself.

Commenting on Psalm 63:3, Charles Spurgeon writes,

Divine favor is better than life; it is better than life with all its revenues, with all its [accessories], as honors, riches, pleasures, applause, etc.; yes, it is better than many lives put together. Now you know at what a high rate men value their lives; they will bleed, sweat, vomit, purge, part with an estate, yes, with a limb, yes, limbs, to preserve their lives....yet a deserted soul prizes the returnings of divine favor upon him above life, yes, above many lives.

I've been a pastor and preacher for well over thirty years. Multiple theological degrees adorn my wall. But when it comes to the love of God, I feel like a kindergartner. In some ways I'm just beginning to understand his precious love. Paul tells me it takes God's strength to comprehend it (Ephesians 3:18-19). And then David tells me that it is better than life itself.

Because your steadfast love is better than life.

At times I moan and groan . . . about busyness and occasional feelings of ineffectiveness, and (honesty moment) the little pangs that come because my car dreams will always outpace my dollars.

My moaning and groaning is about all the wrong things.

I don't need more time, more accomplishments, or more stuff. None of that is "better than life." God's steadfast love is. Living in God's love is living in fellowship with him. John reminds me that fellowship with God (not "getting to heaven") is the object of the gospel message (1 John 1:1-4). So I pray:

Oh God, please help me to get what David got—-an overriding sense of your power and glory and your soul-satisfying loving kindness.

The way out of the desert or dungeon does not begin with a step, it begins with a look. Look to God today. His love is better than life itself.



  • "No man sets so high a price ..." from Thomas Brooks, quoted in The Treasury Of David, Vol 2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation. 1966. Page 73.
  • Charles H. Spurgeon. The Treasury Of David, Vol 2. Page 72.
  • You can click here to view the first of our new series in 1 John, The Essentials.