Psalm 27:4. 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 movie City Slickers three men stuck in mid-life crisis go to a cattle ranch to find themselves. There’s a telling scene when the main character of the movie, Mitch, has a deep conversation with the crusty cowboy, Curly, about the meaning of life. Curly turns to Mitch and asks, “Do you know what the secret of life is?” “No, what?” Curly raises one finger up and says “One thing, just one thing.” “What’s the one thing?” Mitch asks. “That’s what you have to figure out,” Curly replies.
What’s your “one thing?” Have you figured it out? What is your life’s one desire? What could you never live without?
For King David the answer flowed effortlessly from his heart. David knew that more than anything else he wanted to live out his life in God’s presence. That more than any other beauty, he wanted to behold the grace of his covenant LORD. That more than any other wisdom, he wanted to inquire of God’s will. His “one thing” was God.
Remember this is the man who brought the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, back to Jerusalem and put it in a tent (a house or temple) in his back yard (see day 51). Why did he do that? So that he could dwell in the house of the LORD and gaze upon his beauty and inquire in his temple any time he wanted. So that whenever he needed he could sit before the mercy seat, the blood stained “atonement cover,” in the shadow of the wings of the cherubim. At any time, David could look at the beauty of God’s grace right there in front of him. No animal sacrifice. No confession to a priest. No ritual washing. No veil. Nothing between him and God’s grace.
In the age of God’s Law, Psalm 27 gives us a glimpse a thousand years into the future. Into the new covenant of grace. Into our union with Christ.
Christ is the house of God that we dwell in. Christ is the beauty of God that we gaze upon. The Hebrew word for beauty in Psalm 27:4 can also be translated as grace or goodness. It is in Christ that we behold the grace of God. He is the blood stained mercy seat that we behold in awe of the goodness of God’s salvation.
David is revealing to us centuries before Christ, what many of us have yet to realize centuries after Christ, that transformation and growth in the Christian life only comes by beholding. By true worship. By grace.
2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Here is the paradox of this whole thing. To say that your one desire is to “please God,” or even to “be like Jesus” will never get you there. Most likely this starting point will only feed your flesh and become a self-righteous imitation of Christ rooted in your own efforts and abilities, devoid of dependence upon God’s life. But if your greatest desire, your “one thing,” is to gaze upon the grace of God in Jesus, beholding the glory of the Lord’s unconditional goodness. If you spend each moment in awareness of your great need of grace and his overflow of grace, now you might just end up looking like Jesus a little bit more. You might just see your heart freed up to actually love and obey without pretense and without need of expectation.
“To live is Christ” has made beholding God and his grace in Jesus not only our greatest good but also our greatest desire. As we rest IN CHRIST, gazing at his glorious grace on the cross, the CHRIST IN US is being formed, transforming us into that same grace filled Jesus.
What’s your “one thing?”
You in Christ
How can knowing that you are secure in Christ allow you to rest in his grace today, rather than trying to “be like Jesus” by your own efforts?
Christ in you
What is one way you can purposefully gaze upon the beauty (grace and goodness) of God in Christ today?