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. THE TRUE MEANING OF THE ASPIRATION. What the psalmist desires is that he may be able to keep up unbroken consciousness of being in God's presence, and may be always in touch with Him. He had learned what so many of us need to learn far more thoroughly, that if our religion does not drive the wheels of our daily business, it is of little use; and that if the field in which our religion has power to control and impel is not that of the trivialities and secularities of our ordinary life, there is no field for it at all.
II. THE PSALMIST'S REASON FOR THIS ASPIRATION. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord." That is an allusion, not only, as I think, to the temple, but also to the oriental habit of giving a man who took refuge in the tent of the sheikh guest-rites of protection, and provision, and friendship. So the psalmist says, "I desire to have guest-rites in thy tent; to lift up its fold, and shelter there from the heat of the desert. And although I be dark and stained with many evils and transgressions against thee, yet I come to claim the hospitality, and provision, and protection, and friendship which the laws of the house do bestow upon a guest." That is to say, the blessedness of keeping up such a continual consciousness of touch with God is, first and foremost, the certainty of infallible protection. Oh I how it minimizes all trouble and brightens all joys, and calms amidst all distractions, and steadies and sobers in all circumstances, to feel ever the hand of God upon us I There is another blessing that will come to the dweller in God's house, and not a small one. It is that by the power of this one satisfied longing, driven like an iron rod through all the tortuosities of my life, there will come into it a unity which otherwise few lives are ever able to attain, and the want of which is no small cause of the misery that is great upon men. Most of us seem, to our own consciousness, to live amidst endless distractions all our days.
III. THE METHOD BY WHICH THIS DESIRE IS REALIZED. "One thing have I desired,... that will I seek after." There are two points to be kept in view to that end. A great many people say, "One thing have I desired," and fail in persistent continuousness of the desire. No man gets rights of residence in God's house for a longer time than he continues to seek for them. But the words of the text not only suggest by the two tenses of the verbs the continuity of the desire which is destined to be granted, but also by the two verbs themselves — desire and seek after — the necessity of uniting prayer and work. Many desires are unsatisfied because conduct does not correspond to desires.
(A. Maclaren, 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.