Psalm 27v4 NKJV
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
This is the second part to last week’s post about Psalm 27. This week I would like to focus on my other favourite verse within this Psalm.
“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek…” As we saw last week, this Psalm is a Psalm of David. From an awareness of David’s life and interaction with God, largely expressed through the other Psalms, we know that he definitely desired many many things from God! And yet, when he summarises it here, that he has desired “One thing of the LORD”, it is as if he is stating that the single most important thing in his interaction with God, which he seeks for above all else is to dwell in the house of the LORD.
What does it mean to dwell in the house of the LORD? To be honest, I’ve always assumed that it meant to go into God’s temple (as built by King Solomon). And yet, as I write this, it occurs to me that here it cannot mean that specifically here because the temple of God had not yet been built. David himself wanted to build a glorious temple to the majesty of God, but God Himself stopped him from doing this. So instead, David got many resources ready, and the temple was eventually built by his own son, King Solomon. 1 Chronicles 17 gives an account of this. So then “House of the LORD” probably refers to the Ark of the Covenant, within the tents of the Tabernacle. So this, according to David, is the most important thing in his walk with God, and interaction with Him; to dwell in the house of the LORD, and to inquire in this temple. It is interesting that David refers to it as the “house of the LORD”. It is as if that is where God lives; he David goes there to meet with God. And yet, David does not want to merely visit God’s house. He wants to take up residence there Himself, to dwell right alongside God. And then he wants to do this not just as a once-off, or even on an occasional basis. Rather he wants to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of His life.
“To behold the beauty of the LORD”. From the Bible it is clear that human beings, even human beings who were as special to God as was King David, could not physically look upon God*, because God is simply not physically visible. If someone was able to look at God, that would usually result in their physical death. So when David here talks about “beholding the beauty of God”, to me it seems clear that David is not talking about literally, physically looking at God’s glory. Rather I believe that David is here talking about meditating on the beauty of God’s character, His holiness, even His actual radiance; about communing in his spirit with God’s own spirit, mentally reflecting on the splendour of God! Perhaps it might also mean “to meditate on God’s beauty as revealed through the beauty of the created world.”
And to think that that is what David would want to do every day of his life! I must confess, that sometimes in thinking about heaven, when I think on the fact that we are going to spend all day, every day, praising God, celebrating His majesty, I sometimes think: “Is that all we are going to do? What, all day?!” (Apart from walking around on those streets of gold, of course!) And yet, I guess that the closer we get to God, the more we understand His glory, His sheer size, His splendour, His everything, and the more we realise that we could never get to the end of celebrating and worshipping His majesty. And then in heaven we actually are going to physically see Him face to face, and physically behold His beauty and radiance. If King David could potentially be consumed with mentally reflecting on God, and meditating upon Him, how much more compelling will it be when we are actually looking at Him face to face and marvelling at His radiance and glory!
*Of course, regarding looking at God, Jesus changed all that by being God made flesh. So everyone who ever came into contact with Jesus was able to physically look at God without dying; some people were even able to reach out, and touch Him. Now though that Jesus has returned to Heaven, most of us are going to have to wait until we ourselves get to Heaven before we can see God, although many people say that they see visions of Jesus.
“And to inquire in His temple”. Question, to inquire about what?! About God Himself? About life? Specifically about David himself? About curious things, things that only God Himself would know?! Perhaps it is all of the above, or perhaps it might even be none of the above! Perhaps that indistinct uncertainty here is part of the “magic”, for want of a better word. This to me speaks of that fluidity or potential vagueness of a true relationship; that what is inquired about is not prescribed; what is being inquired about is not carved in stone and inflexible. In a true loving relationship, there is spontaneity, you can talk about anything and everything, with a kind of casualness of people who know one another, and who are familiar with one another; you can flit from one subject to another; you can talk about deep profound things, or you can talk about silly little things, you can joke together. It is that familiarity and the ability to do all that that shows that this is actually a relationship of people who genuinely know one another. I love the fact that David here possibly provides an example of that. As Christians love to say, our interaction with God is supposed to be above all a loving, fluid, spontaneous relationship, of people who know one another and live with one another; not inflexible and carved in stone, but familiar and real. I’d love to think that that phrase “and to inquire in His temple” could essentially mean “and to chat to Him about various issues!”
So this concludes this study on this Psalm for now! Once again I would really like to encourage anyone reading this post! If you are already a Christian, please know and understand that it is totally possible to actually be in a relationship with God, to talk to Him, to hear from Him, to laugh with Him! (Who do you think gave us our sense of humour?!) Our relationship with God is supposed to be so strong that it is to be overwhelmingly the single most important relationship in our lives. This is all the more true because of course God is perfect, so all the advice, encouragement, correction etc that He gives us is completely trustworthy and perfect, which will never be true of anyone else.
If you are not yet a Christian, I cannot urge you strongly enough to check this thing out for yourself. Why not try reading a few other Psalms, and the teachings of Jesus, for instance in Matthew 5? Please believe that I am being utterly sincerely when I tell you that God is so real, and the word of God is so powerful – but you have to take it at face value! Please believe me that if it were not resoundingly true, I would not be wasting my own precious time with this, and my own one life, much less encouraging you to waste your time! I myself have had a few “exciting” experiences with Christians, so I cannot necessarily recommend us Christians very highly. But you know what? I too am a Christian, and I’m not perfect either. However God is perfect, and honestly, throwing my “everything” into the pursuit of God and His word has been and continues to be the best decision I have ever made. Sometimes I joke to myself that it has been so significant in my life that it is almost as if it is the only decision I have ever made!
(Whisper) All that said Lord, someone I know would still really love to have a husband – jus’ saying! 😉
Photo of Japanese Cherry Blossom from Pixabay