We’ve been having a great time in the book of Psalms this summer. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. Psalms is so full of help, comfort and wisdom, and so relevant to all of the life situations we face on a regular basis. Thank God for this wonderful book!
This last week we focused in on one verse. Just one...but what a packed verse it was. David wrote in Ps. 27:4 “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” One thing. That’s pretty profound. When someone like David (a man after God’s own heart!) says there’s only “one thing” he’s asking God for, it seems like you’d want to know what that was and ask God for the same thing. Think of all the things David could have legitimately asked for: safety, help against his enemies, a peaceful nights sleep... David wasn’t looking for victory or vindication, or safety or even control. He wanted to be in God’s house looking on the glory of God. David was asking to be close to the Lord for sure. But it was a little more than just being aware of God’s presence, he wanted to be “in the house of the Lord”. There was something unique about this ‘house’. In David’s day God had revealed himself as dwelling with them in the Tabernacle. It was set up at the center of the people of Israel in the journey in the wilderness, and represented God’s unique presence with them. David desired God’s presence so much he had a tent set up and the ark brought it to his house so he could be near it. David knew that there were only limitedthings he could do there. The priests and levites primarily did all the ministry, but David knew that God’s presence dwelt there.
But what was David asking for? For permission to come into God’s house? No, for that had already been commanded and the sacrificial system was in place and was expected. So what was David asking for? David was essentially asking God to keep his heart in the right place. To keep his mind focused on the ‘one thing’ that made the most difference. He was aware of how easy it was to be distracted from the ‘one thing’ and let it slip or become a rote activity that had little or no meaning. David was saying “give me a right heart, Lord. Give me understanding and zeal for what is most important”. For David I think it meant wanting to be near the sacrifice where he received forgiveness and grace.
If David were living in NT times or today I believe he would be connecting the dots, so to speak, and would have understood the New Testament accurately. He would have understood the cross and resurrection and known that this ‘once for all’ sacrifice was the only and final sacrifice for sins and there was no more a temple needed to constantly offer sacrifices for sin. He would have read Hebrews and been very clear on what had taken place and how it all fit in with the Old Testament Temple worship and what it was to be like now. He would have read Ephesians 2 and grasped that God’s people together were now “fellow citizens” and built together as “members of the household of God” and that “Jesus himself was the cornerstone”. That this whole structure, so to speak, was a “holy temple in the Lord”. He would have clearly seen Peter’s description in 1 Peter 2:4-10 and understood its implications in the light of his experience with the Temple of his day. When Peter said “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”, David would have thrilled at the implications and rejoiced that he was a “stone” in the temple, and would have been rejoicing at the prospect of being together with all these other stones in the temple! Not just in the temple but being the temple! He would have been blown away to see Isaiah and the Psalms themselves being quoted to verify the reality of the risen savior; “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” and “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. David would have read with awe as Peter described this “...chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” He would have cried YES! That’s it! A people called together to declare God’s praises. He would have seen with Peter all the things he had experienced with all the tribes and families and temple worship; people who were striving and failed to attain to God’s righteousness...these people who were, as Peter writes; “...Once ... not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” were the very plan God had all along. A people...a temple...a household...a family...chosen by God to be his unique dwelling place on the earth and THAT is where David would have wanted to be!
This is God’s “one thing”! A people bought by the blood of his Son built together into a “holy temple” for His glory! THIS is what Jesus came to do! He didn’t just come to save individuals, he came to make us a temple. A corporate dwelling of the Lord. This is the “house of the Lord”. A place of truth and safety. It is as Paul said “the pillar and buttress of the truth”. It is a place where you walk out that truth together and make it real in your lives. A unique temple where there is no more sacrifice to be offered but only a sacrifice to be celebrated. The ‘once for all’ sacrifice of Christ on our behalf on the cross is to be celebrated with great joy! As a corporate temple to the Lord this is our primary reason for coming together...to celebrate the sacrifice!
When you come into the “house of the Lord”, what do you come seeking? To see and be seen? To be encouraged? To meet you friends and have fellowship? To hear the preacher? To be enjoy the music and worship band? There’s certainly nothing necessarily wrong with these things in and of themselves, but there’s something far more at stake. You are there because this is where God uniquely determined to reveal himself to his people in a way he won’t in any other. This was not a small thing to David, and I believe it would have been even more significant to him if he were alive today!
Do we come to the “house of the Lord”, this corporate gathering of God’s people...this unique temple of God’s built with human stones, with the same attitude and fervency that David did? God is here to reveal himself among us in a unique way as we gather together as the corporate temple of the Holy Spirit.
So what did David do when he came into God’s house? He gazed! He came to look on the beauty of the Lord. David said in Ps. 16:8“I keep my eyes always on the Lord.” He was a gazer. He perceived the Lord as beautiful and just wanted to look at him. I have to ask myself the question; Am I gazing? Do I find the Lord beautiful? David not only wanted to “gaze” on the Lord, but refused to “gaze” on anything counterproductive to that. He said in Ps. 101:3 “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless”. He went a step further and would NOT allow himself to gaze on anything that marred or hindered or distracted from the beauty of the Lord. Here’s a stark reality; we tend to become like what we are gazing at. Our hearts begin to emulate what we gaze at. It becomes a matter of worship. We worship what we gaze at. The longer we gaze at something the more we begin to worship it. It is sooooo important to pay attention to WHAT you are gazing at.
So...what is the “one thing” you would ask for? What is the “one thing” you are looking for? Craving? The thing you think will bring the satisfaction you are looking for? The fulfillment you think you need? The thing that would change your life? The thing you look to to bring satisfaction, contentment or peace? The thing you daydream about or meditate on? Paul Tripp put it this way: “The spiritual reality for many of us is that the one thing is not the Lord. And the danger in that reality is this: your one thing will control our heart, and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions.” In other words your “one thing” will be your functional Lord. He went on to say “...in every situation and relationship of your everyday life, there is a one-thing war being fought on the turf of your heart”. Can we, with David, make it our goal to desire to “set the Lord always before me”? To be “in the house of the Lord” with God’s people where God reveals himself in his ‘temple’ in a unique way? To be a people of the house. To always be gazing at the beauty of the Lord, primarily seen on the cross, and observed in the lives of those redeemed thru the cross? Though it is a flawed temple, made of human stones, it is a perfect temple covered in the righteousness of Christ the sacrifice. In the same way he sees you perfect in Christ though flawed, he sees his Church perfect and righteous in Christ.
This was David’s “one thing”. Let’s seek to make it our “one thing” as well. Let’s come together to celebrate the sacrifice!