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. (Psalm 27:4)
The most important – and often the most neglected – emphasis of the Christian life is to enjoy God. The ancients developed what has become a staple of practical Christianity:
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
To glorify God and to enjoy Him… But how many Christians ever think about enjoying God? To many, the Christian life is all duty and discipline and doing. We make sure we read our Bible every day. But we don’t have time (or perhaps, we don’t take time) to enjoy God in what we read.
In a previous post, I pointed out that we relate to God the way one person relates to another – understanding, of course, that God as a Person is on an entirely different level than we are. Still, it is possible for us to enjoy Him on a personal level because God is a Person. If we would enjoy God, we must enjoy Him the way one person enjoys another. That requires attentiveness and affection in our interaction with God.
God made us to enjoy Him. Certainly then, He wants us to enjoy Him. That is good, because it would be impossible for us as finite men to enjoy an infinite God otherwise. God has made it possible for us to relate to Him and to be delighted by Him.
We love him, because he first loved us. (I John 4:19)
In this, the initiative is not ours, but God’s. Delight is our right response to God’s loving overtures. God delights in us, and that is why we can delight in Him. In fact, the Bible says more about God seeking us and desiring us than it does about us seeking God and desiring Him. The entire gospel story is the story of God seeking His lost creation in order to restore us to fellowship with Himself. The groundwork for fellowship with God is laid in Jesus Christ, and through His saving work on the cross it is possible for us to enjoy that fellowship.
I want to make four quick points from Psalm 27:4 that will show us how to enjoy God.
First, to enjoy God we must seek the Lord
David said: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.”
This idea permeates Scripture. A quick search will reveal numerous examples of this same thing, so I won’t belabor the point. Just a few verses past our text, the Psalmist said.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)
According to the margin, this verse can also mean, “My heart said unto thee, Let my face seek thy face…” Think again of that person-to-person, face-to-face relationship involved in fellowship with God. If we would enjoy God, we must seek His face.
The face is the window of the soul. God displays both His pleasure and His displeasure in His face. The ancient blessing reads,
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
When God is displeased, He turns His face from His people.
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? (Psalm 13:1)
LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. (Psalm 30:7)
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (I Peter 3:12)
To enjoy God, we must seek for nothing less than face-to-face fellowship with Him. God displays His face in His Word – both the written Word and the Word-made-flesh.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Every day, the believer ought to seek the opportunity to look the Lord full in the face.
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. (I Chronicles 16:11)
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. (Psalm 105:4)
Second, to enjoy God we must dwell with Him
Notice again what our text says: “…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…”
The Lord must be our dwelling place.
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalm 90:1-2)
On this, let the eloquence of Spurgeon capture your thoughts.
Kings’ palaces have vanished beneath the crumbling hand of time — they have been burned with fire and buried beneath mountains of ruins, but the imperial race of heaven has never lost its regal habitation. Go to the Palatine and see how the Caesars are forgotten of the halls which echoed to their despotic mandates, and resounded with the plaudits of the nations over which they ruled, and then look upward and see in the ever living Jehovah the divine home of the faithful, untouched by so much as the finger of decay. Where dwelt our fathers a hundred generations since, there dwell we still.
Though we are in the world, we are not of the world. And even as we are in the world, we dwell there as strangers and pilgrims; we find no permanent dwelling place. While our relationships in this world matter to us, we must remember that they will not last. Our relationship to God will. And therefore, we must walk with Him.
A dear saintly woman, after her husband went home to be with the Lord, made the passing comment that throughout her Christian life (she and her husband were saved after marriage), she had always walked with the Lord through her husband. Now that he was gone, she said through her tears, that she felt blessed to learn to walk with God for herself. Let me urge you to do the same.
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. (Psalm 65:4)
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. (Psalm 84:4)
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)
We demonstrate our love to God through our obedience to His commandments.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10)
Even so, John later said,
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (I John 3:24)
Third, to enjoy God we must behold His beauty
In our human relationships, there will need to be some mutual admiration. Not so in our walk with God. God sees our value in our bearing His image, and He seeks to restore His beauty in us. In our walk with God, it is for us to see His infinite worth and value, and to treasure that. And that is what our text means.
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…
The beauty of God is seen in His power and glory, in His grace and lovingkindness. As we spend time in devotion to God through Bible-reading and prayer, we ought to be admiring the matchless worth of our God. We ought to meditate on all that is beautiful, all that is glorious, all that is praiseworthy about the Lord. We should let it fill our minds and our hearts until it produces such a delight in us that we are carried by this awe of God all day long. Friend, I hope I can encourage you to look for more from your time of devotions. Don’t look at it as a task to be performed, or a discipline to be practiced, but as an opportunity to be thrilled once more.
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. (Psalm 63:1-6)
Fourth, to enjoy God means to enquire in His temple
It isn’t enough to enjoy those moments of private worship. The Bible places a great emphasis on public worship as well. God wants us to praise Him in the great congregation. Our gatherings for worship are a foretaste of heaven, where we will join the mighty host of heaven in casting our crowns at the feet of our Savior. Heaven won’t be a place of private devotion. There, praise will be exalted like never before as ten thousand times ten thousand voices unite together in holy ecstasy. Private worship flows into public praise, and in our times of public worship, our praise is perfected.
When we come to church, we ought to come hungry. Our devotion to God ought to be such that we desire to give Him praise, and we desire to feed on Him — we hunger for Christ. We should hunger for instruction from the Word. We should hunger for assurance from the Word. We should hunger for the face of Jesus Christ in the Word.
May we all learn to come to church with an inquiring heart. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” We should listen for His voice in the Word preached. We should look for His presence in the assembly of the saints, mediated through the preaching of the Word of God.
So then, why we don’t enjoy God? We could give any number of answers – and we will in future posts. But for now, we can say that we don’t enjoy God because we are divided in our aims. Martha was careful and troubled about many things. Like her, many Christians neglect the one thing that is needful. Notice again the words of the Psalm: “one thing have I desired.” Keep your aims, your goals to one thing.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:33-34)
Why don’t we enjoy God? Because we seek what we desire in all the wrong places. We seek fulfillment in the lusts of our flesh and of our mind. We seek it in acceptance and affirmation, in our ambitions and accomplishments, in the abundance of the things that we possess. “One thing have I desired of the Lord…” True fulfillment can only be found in Him.
Why don’t we enjoy God? Because we desire without seeking. “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after…” Every day, seek to enjoy God. Don’t seek to read for volume. Seek to read for delight. Don’t pray for answered prayer; pray for delight.
I leave you with the words of Spurgeon in The Treasury of David.
Holy desires must lead to resolute action. The old proverb says, “Wishers and woulders are never good housekeepers,” and “wishing never fills a sack.” Desires are seed which must be sown in the good soil of activity, or they will yield no harvest. We shall find our desires to be like clouds without rain, unless followed up by practical endeavours.