“Return, Oh my life, to your resting place!
For Yahweh has ripened over you.”
We talked about the word vp,n< (nephesh) in verse 4, and how even though that word is sometimes translated as “soul,” it largely deals with the fleshly, physical aspect of life, which is why I think that it is more proper to translate it as “life” as I have done here and in verse 4. What we do need to understand, though, is this language of “resting place.” Usually when we speak of resting places, we think of the “final resting place”—namely, the grave. And though we as Christians know that the grave is not our final resting place, either for our flesh or for our spirit, this has nothing to do with what the psalmist has in mind. When he speaks of returning to a resting place in this verse, he is speaking of a place of safety and protection (Deuteronomy 28:65, Ruth 3:1). The idea that the psalmist is expressing is that as a result of sin he has wandered from the safety of God’s house and his soul yearns to return to the blessings that are connected with God’s presence.
This sentiment is echoed in the second half of this verse. Many of our English translations have followed the King James and translated this passage as saying “for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” The term that is used is the verb lm;G” (gamal). This word is normally used in the context of something being brought to completion. It can be used, for example, of a baby that has been or is being weaned or of fruit that is brought to full and complete ripeness. In our case, the metaphor of ripe fruit seems to be what the psalmist is getting at. Thus we have the picture of God being like ripe fruit (mellow, dripping with sweetness, and satisfying to parched lips) toward his people, satisfying their every need.
When I was younger, I was not one who got very excited about ripe fruit. I had my orange juice in the morning, but fruit was never something that I sought as a snack. When I was in High School, I began working summers doing landscaping work for a couple of families in our community. One of the perks of the job was that they provided me with lunch while I was working there. I can remember how wonderful it was, after spending hours clearing brush in the summer heat, to come up the hill to the house and see a bowl of chilled, fresh fruit—especially the plums. I still don’t think that there is anything more refreshing than a chilled plum on a hot, dry, summer afternoon. This is the illustration that the psalmist is painting for us. Sin separates us from the blessings of God and he yearns to be back in the resting place of God’s presence, with our Lord satisfying his parched soul.
Beloved, is our Lord sweet like fruit to your lips? Is it God’s word that you use to satisfy your parched soul? If it is not, it needs to be, for there is no sweetness like the sweetness of God’s promises to the persecution and trial parched life of the believer. Loved ones, quench your soul in God’s word; find your resting place in the arms of Christ. Know the joys of forgiveness and redemption from the sins you deserve to be condemned for!
In Christ your Head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.