To see your power and your glory, so as I have seen you in the sanctuary.
Desires are, in some respects, better evidences of real religion than actions themselves, You may be compelled to act, — you cannot be compelled to desire, Desires are free-born; they spring forth, spontaneously, from conviction and disposition. Good desires are proofs of something good, pledges of something betters and parts of something the best of all. Now, of the desires expressed in the text, let us note —
I. THEIR CHARACTER. They are distinguished by —
1. Their object: which is God. The natural man desires not God, but the regenerate must have the Lord. He seems to say, "Lord, I must have Thee."
2. Their intensity. See the terms by which they are expressed — "early, thirsteth," "longeth." All this expresses no ordinary desires; Herod would see our Lord perform miracles, but would not step abroad for the purpose. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" but did not wait for an answer. Balaam said, "Let .me die the death of the righteous," while he showed no concern to live their life, or to walk in their ways; for, as an old writer remarks, "There are certain trees which produce double blossoms, but which, nevertheless, bring forth no fruit." But as religion is the one thing needful — absolutely needful — needful on all occasions and in all circumstances, so its exercise and the feelings pertaining to it are all peculiar and supreme. It matters not what the feelings be, whether of self-abasement, of sorrow for sin, or of hope, or joy. It deeply affects the heart, it is not a mere subject of speculation, or a creed or a ceremony, but a life. Is it thus the Scripture speaks of religion? Does it not tell us that it is not a name to live, but life itself? — that it is not the form of godliness, but the power thereof? If religion be anything, it is everything; if it be important at all, it is all-important. What can equal the grandeur of the soul and eternity?
II. THEIR ENHANCEMENT, This arose from the fact that the psalmist was now an exile and a wanderer, shut out from the sanctuary and the sacred worship of God. Hence, he envied the very birds who could build and feed and lay their nest near the house of God. Absence sharpens affection; and want, desires. Indeed, we seldom know the worth of a thing till we are made to feel the want of it. Then take heed how you use God's grace now, for if you do not use and improve His gifts he will remove them from you, or you from them, as He can so easily do. By any one of many changes you may be plunged into spiritual barrenness, and have to cry, "My soul thirsteth for Thee," etc.
III. THEIR AIM. Observe —
1. What David wishes to see — God's power and glory. He means not alone the manifold proofs of God's power, but the glory that belongs to the purposes for which this power is exercised. See this in the glory and power of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His works of grace so mighty and yet so merciful.
2. The place of its display: it is "the sanctuary." Not that it is seen there only. God is everywhere, and everywhere God. He was found visibly and sensibly in the temple of old; but He is now really in our Christian assemblies. Though He is not obviously there to the natural eye, faith can realize Him there; faith can reckon upon the undeniable fact; we perceive His agency there. And this glorious power is seen not only in conviction, but in conversion. And it is seen, too, in the consolation of believers.
3. David's actual experience of these displays — "I have seen Thee," says he, "in the sanctuary." He was certain of the reality of the thing. A believer can come to this conclusion, and is not to be ridiculed or reasoned out of it. He can, and does, say, "I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste."
4. The usefulness of this experience. It stimulated him to seek after yet more of what he had already enjoyed. "To see Thy power... so as I have," etc. Now, such experience not only stimulates to seek more, but it tends to preserve the soul in the love of God, and also to recover him when he has been led astray. The unregenerate man knows nothing of all this. You will never hear to purpose till you so hear that your souls may live. You singers! if you do not sing with melody "in your hearts to the Lord" here, you will not be found among the blissful number of those who shall celebrate His praises in the courts above. And you hearers, if you are only that, what will the Gospel be to you? But you believers, rejoice.
Parallel VersesKJV: To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.