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…
(II.): — The particular aspect of the subject I am striving to present is the peculiar utility and profit of the house of God to the men and women of a busy age like the present. The psalmist, engrossed in the pressing cares and duties of a strenuous life, realizes his need for a period of relaxation and a place in which his exhausted powers may be recuperated, and the deep wells of his nature replenished. In the house of the Lord, as he states, he finds just the answer to his need.
1. The very name of the place seems to indicate as much. It is "the house of the Lord." The place where God is to be found and known. Not, of course, that that is the only place in which he is to be met with. The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, how much less the house that is built with hands? As our Lord has taught us, wherever there is one who would worship in spirit and truth, God is near. None the less, however, the house built for His glory, and dedicated to His honour, is His peculiar habitation in this sense, that it is there that man recognizes Him. Attendance on the house of God is the acknowledgment of God, the living God, in His infinite and glorious perfections, and in the righteousness and beneficence of His rule. Here man recognizes in his own heart, and before his fellows, the being and the presence of the everlasting, ever-present, all-holy, all-wise, all-loving God. And the more the set of the stream with or against which his daily life flows has been away from God, the greater the need and the boon of just such a reflection. Further, in the house of God man sees God in a right light: sees Him as He wishes to be known. As the psalmist reminds us, God's revelation of Himself to man is conditioned by the state of mind and heart of the person to whom the revelation is made. It may, therefore, assume an aspect in which He Himself has no pleasure. To the pure He shows Himself pure; but to the perverse He appears as froward. The view of the character of God which a sinful and rebellious age obtains needs therefore correcting and supplementing. But in the place where men come to seek His face, in His temple in which they inquire after Him, He can and does appear as He would be known, in His "beauty," as the text says. Here, alongside His unimpeachable righteousness, He proclaims His name as gracious and merciful, slow to anger, plenteous in kindness.
2. The text further suggests another alluring and uplifting aspect of God's house, to which both other Old Testament Scripture and the Lord Jesus Himself give utterance. His house is called a house of prayer. He who goes to the house of God goes to the place where prayer is wont to be made. In other words, he there learns the nature, not only of God, but of himself also. Prayer is an acknowledgment of God's supremacy and of man's dependence. Is there any climate so grateful, so restoring, so bracing as the atmosphere of prayer? On every side one hears complaints of the hardening influence of modern commercial life. Keen competition leads to self-assertion, callousness, and indifference to the interests of others. The successful man is apt to become self-sufficient, inconsiderate, arrogant; the unsuccessful, bitter, cold, sardonical; and all more or less reserved and unreal. To some, therefore, it is an excellent discipline surely to come to the place where one's very presence acknowledges dependence and confesses how little our native power avails. To others it affords an exercise of trust to bow before the will of God. And to all it must be an unspeakable relief to come where one can be exactly oneself: where all the traditions and influence gathering around the place conspire to say, "Ye people, pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us."
3. But there is yet another and still more intimate term by which the house is known. It needed a child to discover it, and that child the Holy Child. When the anxious mother chid her wondrous Son that He had caused her three days' sorrowful search, He gently and brightly replied, "But how is it you went about looking for Me; did it not occur to you that I should certainly be in my Father's house?" My Father's house — that is Jesus' name for the house of God. Verily He makes all things new, The house of God is the place to which the Child would naturally go! It is home! The Father's house! Is there any place so beautiful, so restful, so welcome? Here one may enjoy the most delightful of all fellowship, the fellowship with the members of one's own family; and fellowship with the Father and with the Son. The cleansing, soothing, refreshing, renewing, strengthening, enwisening, sanctifying influence of such a place and such a fellowship who can compute? No wonder that the psalmist, who had enjoyed it, longed to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, or bewailed that fate had made him a dweller in the tents of Kedar or in the high places of danger and strife. But note the great discovery he makes. He finds that, though now he has returned from the house of God, he has not left it! The house of God has followed him, and in some mysterious way is still his habitation and shelter. The time of worldly trouble and danger acquaints him with the fact. In the time of trouble he is hid in the secret of his Father's pavilion, and on the battlefield screened in the covert of the tabernacle! It is the perpetual miracle of the Father's providence. He who loves the house of God, and goes to it as he has opportunity, will dwell under its influence all the days of his life.
(F. L. Wiseman.)
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.