“One thing have I asked 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 gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, ESV)
My family was walking along the street in a small town one evening when someone suddenly said, “Carl, you had one job!” I looked to see that they were pointing out one of those Christmas banners that city workers had hung on each lamp post. This was hung upside down. I’m sure “Carl” or whomever the worker was had many other duties, but in that case, he had lost his focus. The “one job” didn’t get done.
David had every reason to lose his focus in the midst of the events described in Psalm 27. He was under assault. There was an army encamped against him (3). Evildoers were set against him (2). He seems to feel forsaken by people to whom he was close (10). False witnesses rose up against him, they breathed out violence against him (12). But he did not lose his focus.
One thing, he said, have I asked of the Lord . His longing and singular desire was not for escape or even the destruction of his enemies—that was there, mind you, but it was not his pressing desire. His pressing desire was for the presence and beauty of the Lord.
C.S. Lewis suggests that David used synonyms for the meeting place of God’s people (in verse 4) because there was a definite connection for them between that place and God’s blessings. [Reflections on the Psalms, 50-51.] I suppose there is something here to challenge us to gather on the Lord’s Day. In the singing we find encouragement. In corporate prayer we are strengthened. In gathering around the word, we are helped by God’s Spirit. It is a sort of retreat from all that has been going on during the week and a tiny taste of heaven.
But there is also here the encouragement to keep our focus, to stay after the one thing while surrounded by the many things. We have the joy of fixing our gaze on the beauty of the Lord and finding sustaining joy in him. Seek after the beauty of the Lord.
Jesus, I am resting, resting;
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, and Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.