Other than Jesus, is there anyone in the Bible we know better than David? Shepherd, soldier, king; musician, singer, poet. He was a man of many talents, for sure. 1 and 2 Samuel record the events of his incredible journey from obscurity to fame, telling us the intimate details of both his successes and his failures. But it is the psalms that reveal his heart. He bears his soul in these sacred hymns, and the emotions revealed run the gamut from utter despair to unspeakable joy.
Psalm 27:4 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, for here we discover what makes this man tick. “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.”
In the passage David shares his Number One priority: above all else, he had an intense desire to experience the presence of God. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle (the house of Yahweh) was the primary place of worship. Here a repentant believer could offer a sacrifice and receive forgiveness of sins. And here, the glory of God was on display like nowhere else. This is where David wanted to be, and he longed to be there every day.
More than anything David wanted to go to the tabernacle “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.” This is such a simple statement, yet packed with life-changing reality. He wants to see and behold “the beauty of Yahweh.” The word “beauty” is a rich word, conveying the ideas of pleasantness, delightfulness, sweetness and loveliness. For the true saint, God is all these things to perfection, is He not?
As you reflect on the breath-taking beauty of King Jesus, I would encourage you to regularly take inventory of your motives, starting today. “Why do I attend church services? Why do I read the Bible? Why do I pray?” What is the point of these activities? When you dig deep into your soul and ask yourself these all-important “why” questions, what is your response?
Oh, may our answer be, consistently and increasingly, “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.” This is the mark of the true Christian and the distinguishing characteristic of saving faith.
Sure, the extent to which we experience the presence of God can vary. Certainly our physical condition can be a factor to diminish the joy He offers. On any particular day, if we’re sick or tired or stressed out, we may not always climb to the mountaintop of divine bliss. I’d be lying if I told you that I spend every moment of every worship service actually worshipping.
But overall, shouldn’t the beauty of God enthrall our hearts and satisfy our deepest desires? If the answer to that question isn’t an emphatic “Yes,” something is amiss. Perhaps you’ve reached a plateau and your spiritual growth is in a state of stagnation. Or even worse, could it be that your profession of faith is not merely superficial, but essentially false. You are going through the motions of Christianity, but the reality of genuine faith has escaped you. This is why Paul told the Corinthians to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
If you are able to answer this question with an enthusiastic “Yes,” give praise to the One who made it possible! This is evidence of the work of the Spirit in your heart, and be careful not to take any credit for it.
Regardless of your current spiritual condition, we would all do well to pursue God with the same passion as David. Ultimately, the bliss of beholding God’s glory cannot happen without His power. Yet paradoxically, as with David, this experience only comes to those who “ask” for it and “seek” it with relentless intensity. God wants us to see Him; He delights to reveal Himself to us. But it only happens to those who yearn for it like nothing else.