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…
Ere we can conceive the love of gratitude towards another, we must see in him the love of kindness towards us; and thus, by those who have failed to distinguish between a love of the benefit, and a love of the benefactor, has the virtue of gratitude been resolved into the love of ourselves. And they have thought that there must surely be a purer affection than this, to mark the outset of the great transition from sin unto righteousness; and the one they have specified is the disinterested love of God. They have given to this last affection a place so early, as to distract the attention of an inquirer from that which is primary. The invitation of "Come and buy without money, and without price," is not heard by the sinner along with the exaction of loving God for Himself — of loving Him on account of His excellencies — of loving Him because He is lovely. Let us, therefore, try to ascertain whether even this love of moral esteem is not subordinate to the faith of the Gospel; and whether it follows, that because this affection forms so indispensable a part of godliness, faith should, on that account, be deposed from the place of antecedency which belongs to it We readily and abundantly concede that we are not perfect in God's will till the love of moral esteem be in us as well as the love of gratitude — till we love God for Himself. Heaven will be no home for us until we attain to this. How great, then, must be the change which must pass on men of the world ere they are meet for the other world of the spirits of just men made perfect. The natural man can no more admire the Deity through the obscurities in which He is shrouded, than he can admire a landscape which he never saw, and which, at the time of his approach to it, is wrapped in the gloom of midnight. It must be lighted up to him ere he can love it, or enjoy it; and tell us what the degree of his affection for the scenery would be, if, instead of being lighted up by the peaceful approach of a summer morn, it were to blaze into sudden visibility, by the fires of a bursting volcano. Tell us if all the glory and gracefulness of the landscape which had thus started into view, would charm the beholder for a moment from the terrors of his coming destruction! Tell us if it is possible for a sentient being to admit another thought in such circumstances as these, than the thought of his own preservation. Oh, would not the sentiment of fear about himself cast out every sentiment of love for all that he now saw, and, were he only safe, could look upon with ecstasy?-and let the beauty be as exquisite as it may, would not all the power and pleasure of its enchantments fly away from his bosom, were it only seen through the glowing fervency of elements that threatened to destroy him? And so would it be were God in all His holiness, in that character on which the angels gaze with delight, made visible to the natural man. All that is morally fair and magnificent would be before him, but let it all burst upon the eye of a sinner, you may say that he ought to admire and adore, but he cannot; he is in terror, and he can no more look with delight upon God than he can upon a beautiful landscape lit up with the glare of a volcano. Ere we love Him, we must be made to feel the security and the enlargement of one who knows himself to be safe. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me — and then may I love Him and not fear Him; hut it is not so with me. But let us see God reconciled to us, and then, delivered from all fear, we may now open our hearts to the influences of affection. Now we shall delight in God for Himself; the love of moral esteem is now free to take up its abode in us as before it could not do. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And we love much when we know and believe that our sins are forgiven us. The first matter in hand, then, between God and sinners, in the work of making reconciliation, is, that they believe in Him; that they credit the sayings of the Gospel to be faithful sayings. The first thing is not the disinterested love of God — let none be troubled or embarrassed as if it were — but faith. This is the great starting-point of Christian discipleship. Afterwards there will come love, but not first. Let this consideration shut you up. unto the faith. Let it exalt, in your estimation, the mighty importance of a principle, without which there can neither he any sanctification here, nor any salvation hereafter.
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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 inquire in his temple.