Psalms 27:4: “One [thing] have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.”
Star light, star bright
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight. English Nursery Rhyme
I believe David wrote this Psalm as he relaxed on his porch one night looking out over the stars and vast universe. Somehow reflecting on the vast universe you cannot help but wonder if out of this vast universe God would grant you just one request, one wish, what would it be?
The word one that is used in Psalms 27:4 is echath which is most likely from the root word echod which means one but seems to be a play off of the word nachath which means to descend. Possibly what David is saying here is it all boils down to this or in the final analysis. In other words if he were given just one wish that could be granted what would that wish be? If God would come to you like He did to Solomon and say, “Ask for one thing, anything, and I will grant it.” What would you ask? We have all played that game, we have all wished upon a star. The idea of wishing upon a star has its origins in ancient times. Somewhere out there man speculated that there had to be a God and when they saw a shooting star it was like a sign from God that He was ready to grant any request.
The word desired is the word sha’al which really means to ask. David did not just wish for this or desire it, he actually asked God for it. Not only did he ask but he was seeking for it. The word seek is baqash which is in a Piel imperfect form which means that he has been earnestly seeking this with all his heart. So this is not just some simply off the cuff wish, this is the very cry of David’s heart.
What is it that he so desires more than anything else? It is to dwell in the house of the Lord. We automatically think that David is referring to heaven, but we overlook the next words, all the days of my life. The word for life is chi which could mean both a spiritual or physical life. However, chi is not the predicate in this sentence, it is just a prepositional phrase, the predicate is the word days or yom which indicates a reference to is physical life.
So what is the house of the Lord? Obviously he is referring to the temple of the Lord, or the place where the Lord dwells. I mean David could not hope to spend all his time in the temple like a prisoner. Yes, wishful thinking, perhaps. But the house of the Lord is really a Hebrew idiom for the presence of God or the heart of God. You see, obviously, God was not just in the Holy of Holies in the temple. David was not fool enough to believe that. He knew God was everywhere, God was with him, right there by his side when he fought Goliath. Did God leave the temple to join David in battle? Of course not. David knew this. What was so special about the temple and the Holy of Holies is that this is where God opened his heart to the people, opened His heart to David. That is what made the temple so special.
People say, “I do not have to go to church today, I can worship God at home.” True enough. But I am going to church today. I am getting this old body up, cleaned up and semi properly dressed up (I have long since forgone the wearing of a suit to church, daily apparel is the order of the day) and I am dragging myself off to a church building to worship God. Now I can easily do that at home, but the problem is that I do many other things at home. The church sanctuary is a special place, a place designated for one purpose and that is to worship God. It is there that I can focus my full attention on God and He on me and it is there that I can enter the heart of God. I can be with others who also enter the heart of God. I can look around and see the joy on their faces, the peace, the glow of the presence of God on their lives. This is a time when nothing else enters the fray, health concerns, financial concerns, deadlines and all the other cares of the days are put aside so I can concentrate on one thing and one thing only and that is to enter the heart of God and when I do I find I am asking the same thing of God that David ask, that I can dwell in the heart of God all my life.
That moment when you enter the heart of God and like David you see the beauty of the Lord, nothing else in this world comes close to it. The word beauty that is used here is bano’am which comes from root no’am meaning delightfulness or pleasure. David says he wants to behold the pleasure of God. The word behold is the Hebrew word chazah which means to experience something. David is saying that he wants to experience or feel the pleasure of God.
I will be honest with you, I do not dig our modern music in church, with the thump thump, single melody line, three guitar chord of an I like God song that we sing in our churches today. It all sounds the same to me and is just too loud. I am one of those old timers who grew up on the hymns and listened to people sing in four part harmony with songs that told a story and not a hash chorus. So I get no pleasure at all out of our worship service, none whatsoever. So why do I go to church and participate in a worship services that brings me no pleasure? For that very reason so I do not experience my own pleasure. I can get that anytime and put on the music I want on my IPOD anytime I want. When I go to church and sit through music I cannot stand and derive no pleasure from it, I still feel no’am, delightfulness and pleasure but it is not my pleasure but God’s pleasure I feel, for I have entered His heart and I know it is His pleasure I feel and I wish I could spend all the days of my life in His heart feeling His pleasure. I feel for you who actually enjoy that music, it must be hard to discern between your own pleasure and God’s, so I am really the lucky one here.
And by the way, I am also reminded of one other thing, one day I shall live in the heart of God forever.