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.
When I was growing up, I used to watch a show on Nickelodeon called “The Fairly OddParents.” The premise of the show is that Timmy Turner, a teenager, was given two fairy godparents (Cosmo and Wanda). Most of the episodes centered around Timmy making a wish that he thought would enhance his teenage life in some way but the wish going terribly wrong. The rest of the episode, then, would be about him trying to get out of the mess that his own fulfilled wish created. The humbling truth is that sometimes the things that we want most in life actually are the things that will cause us the most problems.
If you could have anything you wanted right now, what would it be? In John 1:38, this is essentially the first question Jesus asks His would-be disciples. He asks them, “What are you seeking?” Many commentators explain that John would often write on two levels throughout his gospel: the surface level and the deeper level. In this case, Jesus is wanting His followers to not only tell Him who or what they are looking for on the surface level, but on a deeper level, to also reflect on what they truly want in life. I would argue that this question is repeatedly foundational in following Jesus. So, what are you seeking? What do you want most in life?
As Christians in Dallas, we probably know how we should answer those questions, but if you’re like me, in our normal, busy lives, it’s easy to drift from seeking God to seeking many other things. These things are not necessarily bad things as they can be good gifts from a good God for our enjoyment, but there is a difference between enjoying one of these gifts in a way that leads me to worship the Giver and worshipping the gift over the Giver (Solomon develops this theme in Ecclesiastes). Sometimes difficult seasons reveal where we have turned “good things” into “God-things” and can help clarify what truly matters, what is truly valuable, and what is truly reliable.
Earlier in Psalm 27, it's established that David was dealing with a time of fear and uncertainty, so we can learn some things from him as we navigate our own current season of fear and uncertainty. In Psalm 27:4, we learn this principle: In a time of fear and uncertainty, David clarifies and simplifies his true treasure. In verse 4, David says that there is “one thing” that he seeks. As a poet, he describes this one thing in three ways:
1. To “dwell in the house of the Lord”: He hungers to be with God; to linger in God’s presence; to soak himself in God.
2. To “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”: This is sensory language. It means to look upon steadily or intently, especially in admiration or delight. David does not see God as boring or routine, but as heart-affecting and delightful! To paraphrase Tim Keller, he has moved to see God as beautiful, not just useful.
3. To “inquire in his temple”: Another word for “inquire” would be “meditate.” He doesn’t just want to hear the truth, but he wants to think deeply about it and how it relates to his life.
In summary, David just wants to be with God! He is demonstrating that God Himself is the Greatest Treasure. Similarly, we have an opportunity in this season to embrace God Himself as our Greatest Treasure, not just to settle for knowing some things about Him, but to embrace the precious invitation of truly knowing Him for ourselves. When that happens, things of this world will become less attractive to us, and it will change what we desire the most. I recently had a conversation with an 8th grader in one of my Bible studies who told me, “The closer that I’ve gotten to God during this season, the less appealing worldly temptations have become to me.” A lot of us believe that the way to grow in the Christian life is to do more, try harder, and behave better. However, the Bible presents a different picture: it describes that the way to grow is to see how amazing, glorious, and beautiful Jesus and his love in the gospel are. The more we see and truly sense how beautiful and delightful God is, the more we will change at the heart-level, and that in turn affects everything in our lives. In the 1800’s, Thomas Chalmers wrote, “The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself?” In this season, may God graciously grant us both the head-knowledge and the heart-sense that He is a better treasure and trust than anything else.