Within Psalm 63, David says, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Psalm 63:3). As you can see, David places two good things before him, the steadfast love of God and life, and compares them. In order to understand the beauty of what is being said here, we need to first understand what David means by steadfast love of God as well as life. Let’s begin by looking at what David means by the steadfast love of God.
Within Scripture, the steadfast love of God, in this particular context, is the loyal, faithful, and unfailing love that God had shown Israel because of the relationship He had with them. And in the Bible, we see that the steadfast love of God leads God to redeem his people from their enemies, to preserve them from death, to give them spiritual life, to forgive them of their sins, and to keep his covenant with them (Ex. 15:13; Ps. 86:13; Ps. 119:159; Ps. 25:7; Neh. 1:5). This is the steadfast love of God. It is that loyal, faithful, and unfailing love that God shows his people by being a hundred percent for them rather than against them. Now let’s look at what David means by life.
By life, David means the good, valuable gift of living in this world and, inevitably, all the good things that comes with living in this world. By all the good things, I simply mean things like kids, a loving spouse, business success, honor and glory, sex, entertainment, food, drink, etc. Though that was probably obvious, it was helpful for us to ponder nonetheless.
The reason it was helpful for us to ponder is because David places the steadfast love of God and the good valuable gift of living in this world together for the purposes of comparing them. And when he does compare them, he ends up saying that the steadfast love of God is better than life. Or to put it another way, “The steadfast love of God is better than life. O! it would be better not to have lived than to have lived without knowing the steadfast love of God!”
These are amazing words. David is rightly esteeming the steadfast love of God. And, when it comes to us personally, as New Covenant Christians, we ought to be able to say this with the same level of earnestness as David. For, when you think about it, we have seen more redemptive history than David. Therefore, we have more evidence that enables us to better see the infinite value of God’s steadfast love.
Steadfast Love in Christ
Just think about it. We have seen God show his steadfast love for us by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to be a wrath appeasing substitute on our behalf. We have seen him raise Jesus from the dead and exalt him to His right hand showing us that Jesus Christ is a faithful High Priest who always lives to make intercession for us. And we have seen Him give us the Holy Spirit to enable us to put sin to death and to live to the glory of God. Then, as if all that were not enough, we have seen him elaborate on how unfailing his steadfast, never-failing, and unceasing love for us is when he says that nothing will be able to separate us from his love for us in Christ (Rom. 8:39).
Just think about all of that. Isn’t it apparent that the steadfast love of God is better than life? This is the testimony of the Scriptures and, in all honesty, it ought to be engraved on the tombstone of every martyr that has died for the sake of Christ! For, is this not what they were testifying to when they poured out their blood unto death for Christ?
Martyrs Testified to this Truth
Wasn’t Stephen, not with his mouth but with his life, saying that the steadfast love of God is better than life when he was being stoned to death for his faithful preaching of the gospel in Acts 7? Or think about Lady Jane Grey, a strong Christian woman who lived during the reign of Bloody Mary. Was she not saying with her actions that the steadfast love of God is better than life when she placed her head on the execution block and prayed to Jesus, saying, “Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit”? And then they severed her head because of her faith in Jesus.
And think about John Bradford. In the year of 1555, during the reign of Bloody Mary, he and John Leaf where tied to a stake to be burned alive for their faith in Jesus. As the fire was about to begin, John Bradford turned to John Leaf and said, “Be of good comfort brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night.” Every martyr throughout church history testified to the truth that the steadfast love of God is better than life.
We Should Testify to this Truth
And, as Christians, this ought to be our testimony as well. We ought to look to the heavens and tell God the Father that his steadfast love is better than life. We ought to look to friends and remind them of this precious truth. And we ought to look at the enemies of Christ and inform that they can take away our possessions, families, reputations, and even your own lives because the steadfast love of God in Christ is infinitely more valuable than all of it.
What God the Father has done for us in Christ Jesus our Lord is better than life. Spurgeon put this so beautifully when he said, “Life is dear, but God’s love is dearer. To dwell with God is better than life at its best; life at ease, in a palace, in health, in honor, in wealth, in pleasure; yea, a thousand lives are not equal to the eternal life which abides in Jehovah’s smile.” Ponder on this truth today. Be enraptured by it. And, just as David mentioned in this verse, let this truth lead your lips to praise the God that has been pleased to make you a recipient of His steadfast love.