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…
I. IN WHAT THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD CONSISTS. We call nothing beautiful but what is pleasing; and we call nothing pleasing in a moral agent, but what is morally excellent, or truly virtuous. The beauty of the Lord, therefore, must signify that, in His moral character, which is pleasing to a virtuous and benevolent heart. His beauty is the beauty of holiness. God is love; which constitutes His supreme beauty, and comprises all that is virtuous and morally excellent in His nature. Pure, disinterested, universal benevolence, forms the most beautiful and amiable character conceivable.
II. GOOD MEN ARE CAPABLE OF SEEING THIS MORAL BEAUTY OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER. Those who love God have the same kind of love that God has and exercises towards them and all holy creatures. They see God as He sees Himself, glorious in holiness, and of consequence, glorious in all His other attributes, which are under the influence of His perfectly benevolent heart. They see supreme beauty and excellence in His power and wisdom, in His justice and sovereignty, in His mercy and grace, as they are continually exercised for the highest good of the universe.
III. WHY GOOD MEN DESIRE TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD.
1. Because the goodness of God, which forms His supreme excellence, spreads a glory over all the other perfections of His nature. Saints as well as others can see no excellence in the greatness and majesty of God, separately from His perfect holiness and benevolence.
2. Because it spreads a beauty over His works, as well as character.
3. Because it spreads a beauty over all His conduct.
4. Because it spreads a light and beauty over His Word. It enables those who are holy as God is holy, just as God is just, and good as God is good, to see why He commands all men to love Him supremely. Conclusion —
1. If it be true that the supreme beauty or glory of God consists in His pure and universal goodness, then sinners hate God for that for which alone they ought to love Him supremely.
2. If saints sincerely and ardently desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, then they are essentially different from sinners.
3. If God be perfectly good, and His goodness spreads a moral beauty and excellence over all His perfections, then there is nothing to hinder sinners from loving Him but merely their own selfishness.
4. If the supreme glory of God consists in His goodness, then the more clearly His goodness is exhibited before the minds of sinners, the more difficult they always find it to be to love Him.
5. If saints desire to see the beauty of the Lord, then we see one good reason why they love to attend the public worship of God in His house constantly.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)The vision of the beauty of God: — As we confess our belief in God as Three in One and One in Three, the saying of the psalmist is fulfilled in us who, as we dwell in God's temple, rejoice in the vision of God's beauty.
1. Intense was the longing of the psalmist for that vision. It was the "one thing" he "desired and longed after," and in some faint measure attained to. And here, as ever, he but gives voice to the universal cry of man's spirit. Man cannot know what God is except as God reveals Himself to him, "He dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto;" "He is One whom no man hath seen or can see." The finite cannot know the Infinite One until He brings Himself within the reach of his knowledge. And yet for this knowledge he must of necessity yearn. In the Man Jesus Christ, God in Himself is revealed. We are not of those whose lot is in the night and whose language is but a cry. No, "we are of the day": for us "the darkness is passed and the true light shineth." For us the Trinity is rest in a measure attained: we rest in the vision of the beauty of God.
2. There are two things that especially arrest us in the beauty of God, as we are taught to contemplate it in the creeds of the Church.
(1) There is in Him the beauty of unity. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." The unity of God is the primary truth of the Christian faith, and on it as its chief corner stone rests the structure of Christian morality. "Because He is One "we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength." The simplicity of the Christian character is the practical acknowledgment of the unity of God. Because He is One, He only is to be loved and served. "I am the Lord; that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another." A divided allegiance in His sight is treason. Because He is One, He is to be served wholly, He is not the God only of the inner self, or of the external life; He claims to reign without and within.
(2) There is in Him the beauty of love. In the one God there are three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Our God is no solitary Monad, eternally and essentially solitary, silent and inactive. He is love, and because love is of the very essence of His Being, He must have in Himself love in eternal action. There are and can be in God no dormant powers, no undeveloped capacities. Deus est purus actus, this is the necessary condition of His eternal perfection. God is love; see this in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. Eternally is the Eternal Son begotten of the Eternal Father; eternally is the Eternal Spirit proceeding from the Eternal Father through the Eternal Son. God is love; within Himself He finds not only an eternal sphere of loving activity, but the satisfaction of love's craving for an eternal communion. The vision of the beauty of love in God draws His people to Him to live in the sunlight of that love. As thus they live, they themselves become possessed by that love which is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. More and more they look on men with eyes enlightened by God's light; they feel for men as does the heart of God. Nay more, as this love possesses them, they rise to higher measures of simplicity of character. Thus then love may dwell in peace; in peace with God; in peace with men: in peace of inner being. Thus gazing on the love of God revealed in the Blessed Trinity, they become themselves conformed to the beauty of His charity and so become to Him a joy.
3. But if we are to live in the vision of God's beauty, there are two essential conditions personal to ourselves.
(1) We can only see God when the eyes of our spirits are purified. "The pure in heart see God." For us there cannot be the parity of the unstained. By our very birth we are born blind; by our personal sins our spiritual eyesight has become dim. But there is for us the purity of contrition. By the power of this grace we are cleansed from the blinding sins of the past, and from the obscuring power of failures in the present. Live then the life of penitence: ever yield yourselves up to the guidance of the motive of contrition; avoid sin as you live in the wariness that contrition teaches.
(2) And ever remember that this purity can only co-exist with humility.
(G. Body, 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.