Editorial: A Songwriter’s Satisfaction

Long before a 20th-century English songwriter penned his lament that he couldn’t “get no satisfaction” (no matter what he tried and tried and tried), a songwriter from the Middle East 30 centuries ago had already provided the answer. The Hebrew composer was King David, who was reviewing his own life and contemplating his future. He was also drawing a sharp distinction between himself and people in the world “whose portion is in this life.” In the closing lyrics, David sings to the Lord, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psa 17:15).[1] In an apparent answer to the cry of every human heart (whether expressed in words or deeds), David revealed the truth that real satisfaction is found in communion with the Lord who made us.

Which songwriter more closely expresses how we are presently living? Are we trying and trying and trying the world’s pleasures, thinking they will somehow satisfy us? Do we really believe that the next vacation, the new car, the bigger house or the latest form of entertainment will provide what our souls really crave? Or have we learned, like David, that the ultimate joy, both in this life and the next, is fellowship with God?

Notice that David was anticipating resurrection. He mentions a time when he will “awake.” Some theologians furrow their brows when you suggest belief in the resurrection among Old Testament saints. But David wasn’t the only saint to express this hope (Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2) nor the only one to do so in song (Psa 49:14-15; 71:20; 73:23-26). In fact, David mentions resurrection at the conclusion of two consecutive psalms, one having to do with his own resurrection (17:15) and the other having to do with David’s Greater Son (16:10).

David was also anticipating righteousness, expressing joyfully, “I shall behold your face in righteousness.” The day was coming when David would be delivered from the power, presence and pollution of sin, having a righteousness that would enable him to see the face of God. Derek Kidner wrote, “Only like can communicate with like.”[2]

But the real source of David’s hope centered on the Lord Himself. David was anticipating a relationship, one unhindered by sin and which would bring the ultimate satisfaction – “I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” In Psalm 16:11, he wrote, “In your presence there is fullness of joy.” So, as he ended two consecutive psalms with the hope of resurrection, he concluded them both with a reminder of what brings true joy and satisfaction[3] to the believer: being in the Lord’s presence and having fellowship with Him.

Now that Christ has come, our fellowship with the Lord is even sweeter than what David enjoyed. We have received the righteousness of God by faith in His Son (2Co 5:21) and experienced spiritual resurrection (Eph 2:5-6). We enjoy a closer relationship with the Lord through His indwelling Spirit. And although our communion with God is not yet what it shall be, we, of all people, know that’s where true satisfaction is found. Let’s make sure we live the right way so we can sing along with the right song.

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the ESV.

[2] Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1973), 89.

[3] “Fullness” (16:11) is from the same root as “satisfied” (17:15).