Psalm 27:4
One thing I have asked of the LORD, this is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek Him in His temple.
A Breathing After GodPsalm 27:4
A Great DesireT. Raffles, D. D.Psalm 27:4
A Soul Longing for GodJ. W. Kaye.Psalm 27:4
ConcentrationA. T. Pierson, D. D.Psalm 27:4
David's Delight in the House of GodS. Stubbings.Psalm 27:4
David's DesireA. Roberts, M. A.Psalm 27:4
David's Master-PassionJ. C. Allen.Psalm 27:4
David's Paramount DesirePsalm 27:4
Delight in the SanctuaryHomiletic ReviewPsalm 27:4
Dwelling in the House of the LordThe HomilistPsalm 27:4
Dwelling in the House of the LordT. F. Crosse, D. C. L.Psalm 27:4
God Seen and Man Taught in the TempleJohn Corbin.Psalm 27:4
God's GuestsAlexander MaclarenPsalm 27:4
Guests of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 27:4
Life's LimitationsPsalm 27:4
Moral Effects of Communion with GodJ. H. Newman, D. D.Psalm 27:4
Saints Desire to See the Beauty of the LordN. Emmons, D. D., G. Body, D. D.Psalm 27:4
Singleness of Purpose in WorshipD. Rhys Jenkins.Psalm 27:4
The Affection of David Towards the Place of God's WorshipT. Pierson.Psalm 27:4
The Affection of Moral Esteem Towards GodT. Chalmers, D. D.Psalm 27:4
The Attractiveness of God's CharacterAndrew Gray.Psalm 27:4
The Beauty of the LordA. O. Sauderson, M. A.Psalm 27:4
The Beauty of the LordW. M. Macgregor, M. A.Psalm 27:4
The Divine BeautifulnessW. B. Haynes.Psalm 27:4
The Good Man's Desires After the House of GodD. Wilcox.Psalm 27:4
The House of GodF. L. Wiseman.Psalm 27:4
The House of GodF. L. Wiseman.Psalm 27:4
The Influence of Prayer Upon CharacterE. W: Shalders, B. A.Psalm 27:4
The Influence of Religious InstitutionsJohn Logan.Psalm 27:4
The Secret of BeautyH. W. Beecher.Psalm 27:4
The Simplification of LifeJames Mursell.Psalm 27:4
Unity of PurposePeter Anton.Psalm 27:4
Fearless, CourageC. Short Psalm 27:1-6
True ReligionW. Forsyth Psalm 27:1-13
A Psalm for Life's StormsHomilistPsalm 27:1-14
Christ the True LightCanon Liddon.Psalm 27:1-14
Confidence in GodT. H. Witherspoon, D. D.Psalm 27:1-14
Confidence in GodMonday Club SermonsPsalm 27:1-14
David's Confidence in GodT. Pierson.Psalm 27:1-14
David's Preventive of FearD. Davies.Psalm 27:1-14
David's StrengthC. Kingsley, M. A.Psalm 27:1-14
Facts and ArgumentsPsalm 27:1-14
Fear BanishedH. Macmillan, D. D.Psalm 27:1-14
Implicit TrustC. S. Robinson, D. D.Psalm 27:1-14
Jehovah's Self-Revelation, and Faith's Response TheretoC. Clemance Psalm 27:1-14
Light and SalvationH. Macmillan, D. D.Psalm 27:1-14
Man's True LightHenry Drummond.Psalm 27:1-14
The Believer's Freedom from FearH. Hyslop.Psalm 27:1-14
The Christian's BoastThe StudyPsalm 27:1-14
The Christian's TriumphJ. Hassler, D. D.Psalm 27:1-14
The Divine LightCanon Liddon.Psalm 27:1-14
The Fearlessness of the GoodW. Forsyth, M. A.Psalm 27:1-14
The Pathway of PowerG. M. Mackie, M. A.Psalm 27:1-14

There is no known character and career in Scripture that would correspond to this psalm as well as those of David. And it seems difficult to resist the conclusion that the words in ver. 10 were written about the same time that those in 1 Samuel 22:3 were spoken. The objection of Delitzsch, that David left his father and mother, not they him, is of no weight; for either way his peril and exposure were such that he was left without them; and we are left to wonder why they consented to be sundered from him. But these chequered experiences in life serve to bring out to him more and more fully the wealth of care and love that his God makes over to him. If we were asked whether this psalm is one of those which come directly from God, and so contain a revelation from him, we should reply, "It is one of those records of the experience of an Old Testament saint who could triumph in God as the revealed God of his salvation." What God was to the saints of old, he is to his people still. Therefore the psalm discloses God's revelation of himself to his people of the olden time, and it is one in which believers now may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And the expositor will have here a rich mine for exploration, as in the light of this psalm he studies God's self-revelation to his saints, and faith's response thereto. Let us study these in order.

I. WE HAVE HERE INDICATED THE FULNESS OF GOD'S SELF-REVELATION TO HIS SAINTS. The revelation of God which is implied in this psalm is one of exceeding tenderness, richness, and glory.

1. God himself had led the way in inviting souls to seek him. (Ver. 8, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face.") The heart of God desires the friendship and fellowship of man. Our hearts are so made they can rest only in God; God's heart is such that he seeks a rest in us. The fact of his giving an invitation to us to seek him is proof of this (cf. Isaiah 45:19; Iv. 6; 54:6). So also is the complaint of God when men do not seek him (Isaiah 43:23-26). And still more the declared joy of God when souls are at rest in him (Zephaniah 3:17). See this taken over to the New Testament (John 4:23). But the grandest illustration of all is in the fact (Luke 19:10) of which the whole of Luke's fifteenth chapter is the fullest declaration (still further, see Revelation 3:20). In fact, had it not been for this self-manifestation of God's heart, we must all have been agnostics for ever!

2. Wheresoever men open the heart to God's invitation, he proves himself worthy of himself. The student may well luxuriate in the various names which the psalmist delights to apply to God as his God. Note:

(1) The terms themselves.

(a) Light (ver. 1). "There shines on him [the psalmist] a sun that sets not and knows no eclipse. This sublime, infinitely profound name for God, אורִי, is found only in this passage" (Delitzsch, in loc.).

(b) Salvation (ver. 1). Spiritually as well as temporally.

(c) The Fortress of his life (ver. 1), in which he was perpetually hidden.

(d) Guardian (ver. 10). One who would manifest a tenderer care and love than even parents feel, and who, when they are removed from us, will be our Guardian still.

(e) Helper (ver. 9). Coming with timely aid in every emergency. Note:

(2) The individualizing care of God. The word "my should be emphasized in each case: my Light;" "my Salvation," etc. The experience of those who fling themselves on God's care and love is that he manages as beautifully and precisely for them as if he had no one else for whom to care. Hence the prophet's rebuke of the unbelieving suggestion to the contrary (Isaiah 40:27). If God were less than infinite, doubts might creep in. As Faber sings -

"That greatness which is infinite has room
For all things in its lap to lie:
We should be crushed by a magnificence
Short of infinity!"

II. THE RESPONSES OF BELIEVING HEARTS TO GOD'S SELF-MANIFESTATION ARE VARIED AS THE EXPERIENCES OF LIFE. The whole psalm is one of responsive faith; though that response may be sometimes a plea, or a sigh, yea, even a groan, and at other times a shout of song as with trumpet-power. We have all these stages in this very psalm. Listen to the varied phases of the psalmist's words. Here is:

1. Faith seeking. (Ver. 8.) It is an infinite mercy to hear the sweet whisper of God to the heart, "Seek me." It is so wonderful that there should be any such sound from God to the sinful heart - any sound so tender and sweet. And what should the response be but this, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek"? We may well seek the acquaintance of God as our God, to be our Leader, Guide, and Sovereign Lord, even unto death. Note: Let the coming sinner never forget that, if he is seeking God, God has sought him first. We may never lose sight of the Divine order, "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

2. Faith rejoicing in Divine companionship. (Ver. 4.) In the Lord's house, his presence was specially manifested; and those who know the Lord know well that there is no home like being by their Saviour's side, in his house. There they see the "beauty" of the Lord; i.e. his grace, his love, his mercy. There their eyes see "the King in his beauty." They "inquire" in his temple for directions for daily life; or they muse on the glories of the temple as the seat of Jehovah's presence. Yea, God's love and care make them so happy that they must give vent to their joy as with trumpet-song. We often long for greater physical power to praise God in shouting; and the use of trumpet and organ gratifies this longing. We praise God, but the organ gives the voice-power (see ver. 6, Hebrew).

3. Faith watching. (Ver. 2; cf. Psalm 92:11, Authorized Version, but leave out the words in italics; Psalm 37:34-47.) It should be no joy to the righteous to see any one in trouble; yet they cannot but praise God when infamous plots are discovered, and the saints of God are delivered.

4. Faith sheltering. (Vers. 1, 5; Psalm 91.) No one - in earth or hell - can ever forge the dart or weapon that can pierce the saints' stronghold. When the Lord is the Fortress of their life, they are in a citadel that can never be invaded.

5. Faith dreading. (Ver. 9.) The thing most to be dreaded is the hiding of God's face, and being cast off by him. And can faith ever dread this? Yes, indeed; for there are moments when the sins of the past do rise up so terribly into the memory, that for a while they seem to eclipse all besides; and then faith heaves a sigh and drops a tear. There may be as clinging a faith when uttering the wail of the first verse of the twenty-second, as when singing the peaceful song of the twenty-third psalm; for even in the darkest hour, faith says, "My God!"

6. Faith hoping. (Ver. 13; literally, "Had I not believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living...") The sentence is unfinished. The translators have well supplied the blank. The thought is," What would have become of me?" The trials of life are often so repeated and so keen, that were it not for God, his love sustaining the spirit under the weight of the present, and inspiring the heart with hope for the future, reason would give way, and the man be hopelessly crushed. It is God's love which makes life worth living.

7. Faith triumphing. (Ver. 1.) When we realize the glory of him whom we believe, there is no bound to our delight and exultation; and at such times we can laugh in defiance at our foes; yea, "smile at Satan's rage, and face a frowning world." We can, if need be, cherish something of Luther's daring, and "go to Worms, though there were as many devils as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses;" or, better still, we can say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." We know that God will not call us to confront an enemy that we cannot lay low, nor to bear a cross which we cannot carry, nor to endure a trial we cannot sustain, nor to do a work which we cannot perform. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Hence, in closing the psalm:

8. Faith soliloquizes. (Ver. 14.) It may be supposed to be addressed first to himself, and so, indirectly, to the people of God generally. The words, "He shall strengthen thine heart," are, rather, "Let thine heart be strong;" as if the psalmist would chide himself that he should ever have a moment's misgiving, when he has such a God in whom to trust, and such a stronghold in which to abide (Nahum 1:7). Be it ours to wait upon our God continually! This is the secret of a steady, upward, peaceful, and strong life. What may be before any of us, no human eye can discern, nor where our lot may be cast. But God is all-sufficient. Note:

1. How sinful and, foolish to incur the risks of life ourselves! To each and all of us God says, "Seek ye my face." Let our answer be, "Thy face, Lord, will we seek." And all that God has been to our fathers, he will be to us - our Light, our Salvation, our Helper, our Strength, our All!

2. None need quail before the risks of life, whatever they may be, who put their whole trust in God, and follow him everywhere! "Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?"

3. Never think to gain anything by paltering with duty. If a plain duty is before you, however difficult, go forward in the strength of the Lord, and fear nothing. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Wherefore we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear; what can man do unto me?" Only trust in the Lord, and do right, and one by one you will see your foes stumble and fall, and you will be left in possession of the field, more than conqueror, through him that loveth you."

"Stand but your ground, your ghostly foes will fly,
Hell trembles at a heaven-directed eye;
Choose rather to defend than to assail,
Self-confidence will in the conflict fail.

When you are challenged, you may dangers meet,
True courage is a fixed, not sudden heat;
Is always humble, lives in self-distrust,
And will itself into no danger thrust.

Devote yourself to God, and you will find
God fights the battles of a will resigned.
Love Jesus! love will no base fear endure;
Love Jesus! and of conquest rest secure."

(Bishop Ken.) = - c.

One thing have I desired of the Lord.
Worship is a necessity to the spiritually awakened soul. Public worship was an urgent, pressing necessity in the psalmist's case. When, on another occasion similar to that on which he penned this psalm, he found himself deprived of the refreshing and ennobling services of God's house, he exclaimed (Psalm 84:2). Our text teaches us much about David as a worshipper.


1. No moment in the history of his soul was so full of meaning as that moment when, as though he saw the Invisible, he poured the petitions of his overflowing soul into the ear of Him who listens to the cry of the raven, and also the cries and supplications of His needy people, and supplies their every want. In worship he learnt more, felt better, and understood the purposes of life more thoroughly than in any other act of his life. He placed everything else on a lower plane as of less importance, that he might pray to God, fully persuaded that he could obtain more for his soul and the souls of his fellow-creatures by that means than by any other method.

2. The vehemence of the psalmist's desire would have consumed him had he not been able to embody the desire in the act. Like another servant of God's, the passion to act was like a "burning fire shut up" in his "bones," until he moved to seek after that which he so ardently desired. Religion was a business with him who penned this psalm, not a mere pastime. The more the soul possesses of the spirit of true piety, the more active will it become.

3. David having found the Lord to be to him all he tells us in the first verse, it is only natural that his most earnest spiritual desires should be towards Him.

II. THE PARTICULAR PLACE WHERE HE DESIRED TO WORSHIP. "O that I might be able to perform all the duties of life in the house of God, beneath His eye, and in His immediate presence; that every act of my life might be an act of worship." He did not, monk-like, desire to spend his life in self-imposed idleness; his active, kingly nature would not permit him to waste precious time in such a selfish luxury; but he desired, above all things, that his life should be supremely spiritual. If all who are engaged in the world's work in the various walks of life were seeking to perform its many duties as though they were conscious that they were in the presence of God, who approves or disapproves of every act done by men, doubtless a much greater number would be actuated by the spirit that breathes in the text. Then every factory, warehouse, exchange, shop, market-place, school-room, and study would be a sacred place, made such by spiritual men and women. Every building may be a house of God if there be a child of God in it.

III. His DETERMINATION TO PERSEVERE IN THE WORSHIP OF THE TRUE GOD. "All the days," etc. This is really a spiritual necessity. If the soul is to live and grow in the virtues of religion, its needs must be attended to every day, and as long as life lasts. The bread of life that came down from heaven is the soul's portion, and it is everything we can desire. Then there is the river of life, the streams of which never dry. Let us constantly seek these grand essentials in the worship of God.

(D. Rhys Jenkins.)

Here is a man whose life has reached its uttermost simplicity, his longings are reduced to one. The whole force of his being is concentrated upon a single aim. "One thing have I desired, that will I seek after." I do not suppose he had been able to say this always; there was a time when, if he spoke his heart, he said, "Many things I desire." All of us have gone through that, some of us are going through it still. The child is possessed by what Wordsworth called "chance desires." Every shop window is crowded with objects of desire; he wants so many of the sweet and pretty things, that it is cruelty to ask him to say which. There is another stage. The same great poet sings, "He became the slave of low desires." Many a man is set on things which cannot be called base, but they are low; they are natural and pleasant, but there is nothing exalted or exalting about them; if they do not degrade, they do not elevate. Many such things have we desired. We cannot help the fact that we start low, but we sin if we finish there. This man had passed through both these stages of experience. There came a moment when a new desire was borne into his life and leaped like fire upon the other longings there, and caught them up into itself. "One thing have I desired; that will I seek after." And this experience is not so singular as may appear. Life is a process of simplification; the many things that we desire in youth dwindle, or rather coalesce into one dominant desire, just as the many streamlets of the hills all join the river in the vale. Every man down at the core of him desires one thing. The difference between them is in the thing which they desire. This man has told us what it was he had at heart when he exclaimed, "One thing have I desired." It was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to observe His beauty, and to inquire in His temple. Translated into modern speech that means, "The one thing for which I long above all others is to be true and noble, and like God; I want to be the best that God can make me, I pant to attain the highest that is possible for me. That is the passion of my soul for which I live, and pray, and toil each day and all day long."

(James Mursell.)


1. A permanent residence in the house of God. The psalmist desired to engage permanently in the service of the Lord. What a contrast is this to the conduct of those who attend only occasionally when opportunity appears to them to favour it, or when worldly engagements do not interfere. The psalmist had an ardent desire for this object. What a contrast does this present to those who come to the house of the Lord, but who come from improper motives, who are induced to come from submission to authority, from a compliance with custom, or from the accusation of conscience,

2. The object of the psalmist's desire includes the enjoyment of the Divine presence in His ordinances, to behold the beauty of the Lord. The beauty of the Lord is that display of His presence and perfections which is made to the minds of His true and spiritual worshippers. The services of the ancient temple were beautiful. They were typical of Gospel times; yet the ancient saints rejoiced in the glory which was to be revealed. We possess the full revelation of that glory which they "beheld through a glass darkly." In our temple, though no cedars cast around their fragrance, nor are the sunbeams reflected from burnished gold — though we have no priests arrayed in costly vestments, nor do clouds of incense wave around us; yet in the full revelation of the Gospel, and in the more abundant influence of the Spirit, we behold a beauty which far surpasses the beauty of the ancient church.

3. The object of the psalmist's desire includes an obedient, and diligent, and successful study of the Divine will, and to inquire in His temple,


1. This is the language of decision.

2. Of decided preference. Elsewhere he says, "I had rather be a doorkeeper," etc. (Psalm 89.). I commend his choice to you.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

"One thing," says the psalmist, "I desire; that will I seek after." Now what do you suppose it was? If you yourselves were about to express, at this moment, the one desire of your hearts — I mean that which was really and sincerely so — what would it be? Many of you would point, I have no doubt, to various things in which happiness is generally regarded as consisting — such a situation, such an income, such family comforts, such temporal enjoyments, and so on. You would, you think, be well content with these. Some few, however, would say that the "one thing" they would desire is to be Christ's. Well, now, read the text fully, and you will see that David is not of your mind who care only for the good things of this world. Consider, then —

I. THE THING DAVID DESIRES, viz. "to dwell in the house of the Lord," etc.

II. THE FERVENCY AND SINCERITY OF HIS DESIRE. "One thing have I desired of the Lord," etc.

III. THE CAUSE OF HIS DESIRE, or the ends for the sake of which he entertains it; viz. "to behold the beauty of the Lord," etc.

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

In this psalm we have shown us David's comfort. It was altogether in the Lord, and in his faith that God would destroy his cruel enemies. Hence he had great courage (ver. 3). And now in the text we come to his chief care and concern: "One thing have I desired," etc.


1. By "one thing" he means that this was the chief and principal thing. There are differences in things, but this includes all. And God requires this supreme regard from us, for so only will the soul be in earnest, and this which David desired is the chief thing for the soul's good.

2. The affection itself, in its degrees. He desired this "one thing," and he would still "seek after it." Desires are the aims of the heart, and determine its character. This was a spiritual desire, stirred up by the Spirit of God. We may test our being really Christians by our desires. If we be such, then they will be spiritual, fervent, constant, springing from the love of God, tending to His honour, and leading us to diligent use of means, and greater than any earthly desire.

3. Its object. Of the Lord he desired this "one thing." When we have holy desires, turn them into prayers.

4. Its earnestness. "That will I seek after." Prayer must be with importunity.


1. "That I may dwell in the house," etc. By this David meant the sanctuary, the type of the Church, the true house of God on earth. For there God is present. Now here David would ever dwell, because so he would dwell in God's love and care; and in love to and for Him; and all this continually. His present attainment in good things does not satisfy him; he yet is hindered by much inward corruption: there is yet far more to be realized, and where God is present all good must be.

2. "To behold the beauty of the Lord." God is beautiful. This seen in His house, for there we see His grace and love in Jesus Christ our Lord. And the house of God is beautiful also because the angels are present there: and because of the order of the Church, and the means of salvation — prayer, the Word, the Sacraments — which .are there. And the praises of God are delightful. How evil, then, the condition of those who care not for the house of God. Seek after spiritual senses, whereby you can apprehend this "beauty of the Lord." If as yet you fail to behold it, writ still on the ordinances, come to them in believing prayer: meditate much upon them. To induce us to seek this love for the house of God, let us remember that so only can true glory rest upon us: that our souls were made to behold the glory of God, and that disregard of His ordinances will cause God to depart from us. If we do not prize heavenly things we shall not be allowed to keep them.

( Sibbes, Richard.)

I. THE OBJECT OF DAVID'S DESIRE WAS to "dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life." God's house was, to David, the tabernacle, to Solomon, the temple, to any one, whatever spot is consecrated by God's special presence. A statelier pile was never reared for God to dwell in than that which crested the holy height of Moriah, and yet bow truly exclaimed the pious monarch in his dedication prayer, "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, how much less this house that I have builded?" The lofty soul of Isaiah thus sympathetically responds to this grand organ swell, "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me?" (Isaiah 66:1, 2; Isaiah 57:15). Yet He inhabits also the contrite heart. He whom not even eternity can bound, who, on the contrary, calls eternity in every sense His own. can make a house of the contrite heart as well as of the heaven of heavens. How marvellous the condescension! And yet not so marvellous after all; for the heart of the contrite sinner, even in its wreck and ruin, is a grander thing than the mere place called heaven. An ancient sage grandly observed, "On earth there is nothing great but man; and in man there is nothing great but mind." David found God everywhere, but none the less did he love God's holy hill of Zion. And let the like love for our own sanctuary characterize us. To dwell here is to be in sympathy with all that is here that is spiritual and good. To all this one thing is essential. If we would "dwell in God's house," we must first "dwell in God." To be at home in His house, we must be at home with Himself. We must meet God in peace and love over the Great Sacrifice. The prodigal must return; the enemy must be reconciled. Then, like holy men of old, you will feel, "It is good for us to be here" — good to linger where Christ is, and where heaven and earth, Old Testament and New, conspire to give Him glory.

II. ITS CHARACTER. This desire of David was intense: "One thing," says he, "have I desired." Oh how impressive these "one things" of the Bible I Martha was cumbered about many things, but "one thing was needful." The rich young moralist had much, but "one thing he lacked." Paul had scope and faculty for varied action, but, as if gathering himself up into a thunderbolt, he said, "One thing I do." And such a desire could not stop short of being also a practical desire: what he desired as a "one thing," and desired "of the Lord," that, we are prepared to hear him add, "will I seek after." For our particular sanctuary many a desire has gone forth, many a prayer, many an effort. Then, all the more continue to pray and strive, and strive and pray, "that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified" in it.

III. ITS END — "to behold the beauty," etc. — to see, and to go on inquiring that he might yet further see, the beauty of the Lord — His moral glory, which rays forth in brightest splendour from the face of Jesus Christ. Whoever you are, whatever you need, behold the love of God, His beauty, in Christ, and come unto Him and live.

( T. Guthrie, D. D,)

An anonymous writer has left us a very discriminating comparison of two great British statesmen. He likens Canning's mind to a convex speculum, which scattered its rays of light upon all objects; while he likens Brougham's to a concave speculum, which concentrated the rays upon one central, burning, focal point.

(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

Clio will have no divided worship. Gibbon did nothing else than devote himself heart and soul to the Decline and Fall. When Grote undertook the History of Greece, he had to give up his business. Macaulay, when he began the History of England, hod to drop writing articles for the Edinburgh Review.

(Peter Anton.)

In a garden at Mentone is a tree upon which may be seen at the same time oranges, lemons, citrons, and shaddocks. All the grafts were alive, but they were not all equally vigorous. If I remember well, there was but one fruit of each kind on any but the orange and the lemon, and the orange greatly preponderated in fruitfulness. The stronger wins the day. The more vigorous of the grafts took the sap to itself, and left the others to pine. One kind of fruit is enough for one tree, and one great object is enough for one man.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT THE DESIRE OF THE PSALMIST, AND SO OF EVERY SAINT, IS FIXED UPON. It is as if he should say, "As long as I live I would gladly live in the house of God, be always near to Him, have uninterrupted communion with Him, be employed in hearing from Him, praying to Him, praising of Him; and if there be a heaven upon earth, it is found in such works and enjoyments as these. I am nowhere so well as in the house of God: no company like His; no entertainment like His. Here I would be, not as a wayfaring man, that turneth aside to tarry for a night, but as one that belongs to the family, a stated inhabitant. I desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, and this not for a short and limited time, but all the days of my life: as long as I remain upon earth, the house of God will be my most delightful abode."


1. Take notice of its characters. It is a real desire, not feigned. Fixed. "One thing." Supreme; he desired it before and above all else. With this he was content, without it nothing could satisfy him (Psalm 42:1, 2; Psalm 84:2). Constant and abiding — he has desired it, and still he "will seek after" it. And it is influential upon his practice. It makes him pray and endeavour.

2. Whence it springs. It is from God's Spirit. We did not bring it into the world ourselves, and we could not produce it ourselves.

III. THE AIM HE PROFESSES TO HAVE. "To behold the beauty," etc. — God in Christ — "and to inquire," etc. Let us be thankful for "the house of the Lord."

(D. Wilcox.)

The Homilist.
I. THE DESIRE OF THE PSALMIST, "To dwell in the house of the Lord." His desire was —

1. Paramount. It was the "one thing" above all others.

2. Operative. "Seek after." He strove to attain the permanent position, overriding all difficulties.

3. Uniform.

4. Permanent. "All the days of my life,"

II. THE DESIGN OF THE PSALMIST. Why did he want to "dwell in the house of the Lord"?

1. To admire. "To behold the beauty of the Lord." Admiration is one of the chief elements of human happiness. Hence The universe overflows with beauty.

2. To think. "To inquire in the temple." He did not desiderate merely an empty gaze, or a luxuriating in admiration, but to think also.

(The Homilist.)

(I.): — The learned tell us that this psalm is made up of two independent poems, the second of which begins at the seventh verse. And certainly the great difference of thought and feeling between the two parts goes far to justify the suggestion. But is not the first half also the work of two writers? Can the speaker of the first three verses be the same as the speaker of the next three? At the fourth verse the sentiment and atmosphere undergo an entire change. Before that you have represented the active, after it the contemplative life. The temperament of the earlier speaker is practical, of the later aesthetic. In the former part you are stirred by "the trumpet's loud clangour" and the defiant tones of the warrior; in the latter you are subdued to the awe and serenity of the mystic. The two types thus represented are, indeed, common. We know them both well. The strenuous, hustling man of affairs, who can't bear to be inactive, and loves the bustle of modern life. And that other we also know, "his brow sicklied o'er with the pale east of thought"; of intellectual or aesthetic bent; who is never so happy as when alone "far from the madding crowd," surrounded by his books and his pictures. And God made them both and appointed to each his part. And both find their strength and delight in Him, who is at once God of might and of wisdom, Lord of battles, and Prince of peace. What causes the surprise is that these contradictory, if complementary, temperaments are represented as being united in one and the same person. Here is the active man who loves contemplation! The warrior in the high places of the battlefield, who sighs for the solemn hush of the sanctuary! The public man who longs for the heritage of the recluse! How are we to regard such a phenomenon? Have we here a melancholy illustration of life's misfits? Is this a case of a man who has missed his calling, who, as the proverb says, is "a square peg in a round hole"? There are such cases. Men intended by nature for a contemplative life who have been forced by circumstances into the active. But the true explanation is not, I think, in that direction. The speech of a mystic, turned warrior against his will, would bewray him in his utterance of the warrior's defiance. But this challenge is beyond suspicion. It is quite evidently characteristic and sincere. This man is not seeking a way of escape from his present duties; he has no wish to obtain release from the strain upon him. On the contrary, he rather enjoys the fray. He is glad of the occasion that keeps all his powers at full stretch, and taxes his strength to the uttermost, and adds the excitement of risk and peril. He "rejoices as a strong man to run a race." But he recognizes the obvious fact that the more constant and exacting the demand upon a man's powers the greater need of time for recuperation; the more one draws on the reserves the greater the necessity of proper provision for their replenishing. On the other hand, one may use the surface water without stint, if one is sure that the deep springs are being fed. Now in the words of the text, this Samson is confessing where his great strength lies. The light by which he makes his midnight marches, the strength in which he wrestles, the confidence that nerves his arm, and braces him to engage in a fight against fearful odds and, with an exultation that has almost a boyish swagger about it, to "sing defiance to the gates of hell," comes from his God. And it is in the vision of God, and the sense of communion with Him, which he realizes in the sanctuary that he receives the retrieving and replenishing grace which "soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear." This surely is the true connection of the two parts of the psalm. The active and the contemplative lives are not so much antagonistic as complementary. The high pitch of perfection which is now expected in front rank men makes specialization a necessity, and so tends to the separation of the two. But nature is wont to wreak vengeance on such as lose sight of her great law of balance. To keep up the pace, the active, pushing man of affairs must have his period of reflection. He needs an opportunity for self-refreshment, a vantage ground from which to view the direction of his energies, and what the psalmist here avers, uttering it with the deep feeling of strong conviction and happy experience, is this: that for real change and for all recuperative purposes of body, mind, and spirit, there is no place like the house of God. Wiser than many busy men of to-day, he sees that the strenuousness of life, so far from justifying indifference to worship and absence from the house of God, constitutes the strongest argument for regular and eager attendance. In order to meet the supposed demand of exhausted nature, modern society has instituted the custom of week-ending. London, they say, is empty on the Sunday! A similar exodus takes place from the great cities of the provinces. The bustle of the town has invaded the country! Where is the rest and quiet the travellers sought? A change of air and scene without a doubt has its value. But change of sky unaccompanied by change of thoughts is only partially restorative, "The mind is its own place!" Again, we need a period of relief from the busy round of daily duties in order to gain a better view of the trend of our life. One wants a vantage ground where one can see the whole. The general must not get entangled in his fighting line. The artist steps back from his easel in order that he may see if the effect he is producing is that which he really intends. The business man needs to stop buying and selling, and to take stock, so as to see what department is remunerative and what is being run at a loss. Now it is just these needs which the psalmist says the house of God supplies. It affords that detached point of view from which the whole of life may be surveyed. Inquiry in the Lord's temple obtains the answer to many a riddle for the lack of which men live in the weakness of indecision, or receives a grace and assurance even better than the difficulty's solution. Again, is there any place in which you are so quickly conscious of a change of atmosphere affecting the whole being as the house of God affords? Just as the Embassy of another nation is considered a portion of the territory of that nation, so the house of God is a little bit of the Eternal world let down into the world of time. Pass within its doors, You have, as it were, entered the territory of another State. Here reigns another Monarch, a different language is spoken, other laws obtain, different sanctions hold sway, than those recognized by the world outside. The house of God stands for and witnesses to other thoughts and other feelings than those of the market-place, the battlefield, the law court, and the university. It is tenanted by a different spirit. It introduces to a life loftier and deeper, richer and fuller, more strenuous and more peaceful, more joyful and more sympathetic, more self-denying and more self-abandoning, than any of which the world has dreamed. From its beauteous worship a man goes forth at once softened and exhilarated, subdued and strengthened. On another occasion we must consider hew this great purpose is accomplished.

(F. L. Wiseman.)

(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.)

Note —

I. THE "ONE THING" OF THE PSALMIST'S DESIRE — "that I may dwell," etc.


1. That he might behold the beauty of the Lord — the outward beauty animated with the service of the Lord: that which we should desire to see is the spiritual beauty, the various perfections of His character.

2. That he might inquire in His temple. David needed to inquire of God as a king; also as a man; as a transgressor. And how many are the subjects on which we shall do well to inquire of God in His temple?

(John Corbin.)

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.)

I. DAVID'S DESIRE. To "dwell in the house of the Lord," or to regularly attend the same, is very desirable —

1. Because of God Himself being there (Matthew 18:20). No wonder that any one who is "spiritually minded" should wish to be continually present with Christ.

2. Because of the blessings to be obtained there.

(1)Light, i.e. knowledge, holiness, joy.





III. DAVID'S DETERMINATION. "That will I seek after." This supposes obstacles or hindrances. Various and many are the hindrances to public worship. Some, I fear, absent themselves because they are stingy; but, I believe, others stay away often because they are poor, and cannot give as they would like to. Some are kept away by domestic engagements, the opposition of relatives, sickness, or young children; or, on week-days, by business. Satan seeks to hinder, and some neglect because of indifference. Let no one watch for excuses, but all look out for opportunities, seize them promptly, and use them earnestly; and thus, in spite of all drawbacks, like David, "seek after" the worship of God.

(S. Stubbings.)

This is the singular disclosure, the private feeling of a great man full of power: but Scripture teaches us in this way, not only by laws but by lives as well; and while its rules speak very clearly, its examples are more forcible still. The grace of the Holy Spirit offers us to-day to ascertain from David the inclination Christians ought to have for the services of the Church. Every one of us has a bias, an habitual motive, a master impulse, which, as other influences weaken, makes itself felt. To know what this is, is to know the key to the character, and the clue to the conduct. David's impulse is a good one: he tells us his secret: it is an inclination to religion — the best bias in the world. He did not want, like some, to have the wings of a dove, and fly into the holy sanctuary, away from the duties of life which lay before him, and to choose some new set of duties for himself. His part was given him by the will of God: it was to serve his generation in active life. To have left this for the pleasures of uninterrupted religious worship would have been to abandon duty for inclination. The services of the Church are not the only duty of Christians in the world; but they are the one duty which prepares us to do our other duties well. David's wish was, that he might feel so much interest in religion, and have such an assurance of God's presence in the Church, as always to take pleasure in going there, always to profit while he was there, and always to bring so much good away with him that, though his body might be absent from the temple, his heart might still remain in it, and the memory of its services might be his spiritual food. We are convinced by experience that the necessary business of life tends to drive religion out of our heads, even if it does not drive it out of our hearts. We are quite annoyed when we find ourselves out, and can see how some little matters of only passing interest have made us quite forget for a time the presence of God. We do not wish to be ungrateful or worldly. This will not do, we think. We must try again to be more spiritual. This will grow by practice (1 Corinthians 15:46). There is comfort in this, that by trying we shall be improved, and that it is by gradual and imperceptible training we hope some day to be able to say with all our hearts, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after; that I may remember my Church constantly, and live in the presence of God." It is a good beginning to have a clear object in view: "One thing have I desired." And it is better still, after having clearly fixed on one's object, to steadily pursue it: "that will I seek after." If we walk uprightly, and speak uprightly; if we despise the gain of oppression, and shut our eyes from seeing evil; then thy heart shall crave for the rest of the blessed, thy mind shall company with the saints in glory, thy loving ear shall catch the echoes of their song, and (Isaiah 33:17). This was the final object of David's desire: this the end of his search. This was why he would inquire and dwell in the temple, that there, in heaven's rest, in all the days of heaven's life, he might behold the beauty of the Lord.

(T. F. Crosse, D. C. L.)

The character of this psalm is akin to that of the twenty-third in its language, ideas, and devotional spirit.

I. THE SOUL'S RESOLVE. What is life without aim, without purpose? It is a moral waste. The true soul will ever have its resolve, its mark, its aim.

1. It is single — "one thing." In a multiplicity of aims men fail.

2. It is earnest. That will I "seek" after. The earnest man is the real man.

II. THE SOUL'S DESIRE. This prompted the resolve, and moved the soul to action. It was for —

1. The enjoyment of the sanctuary. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord." To souls depressed, what may not the house of God be to them — a Bethel, a "burning bush" where they may hear God's voice.

2. That this enjoyment may be life long — "All the days of my life." His soul found such delight in those services, and he would have this perpetuated.


1. To behold the Divine glory — "the beauty of the Lord."

2. To drink at the Divine fountain — "to inquire in His temple." God is the eternal Fountain of Truth and Goodness.

(J. W. Kaye.)

I. The influence of religious institutions upon men, with respect to their RELIGIOUS CAPACITY. True piety indeed is not confined to the sanctuary. High is the pleasure, and great the benefit, of private devotion. But sure I am, that they who have entered into the spirit, and tasted the pleasures, of devotion in secret, will not be thereby prevented from approaching to God in the ordinances of public worship. Society heightens every feeling, improves every delight. All that charms eye, ear, imagination, or heart, is attended with double pleasure, when we share it in the company of others. A holy emulation will rise in the bosoms of the faithful: the ardour will spread from breast to breast, and the passions of one inflame the passions of all.

II. The effect of religious institutions upon men, with regard to their MORAL CHARACTER. Men in general have no principle of moral conduct but religion, and if that were taken away, they would work all impurity with greediness, whenever they could withdraw from the public eye. Human laws would often be of little avail, without a sense of Divine legislation; and the sanctions of men have little force, unless they were enforced by the authority of God. Mutual confidence between man and man would be destroyed; human life would be thrown into confusion, the safety of mankind would be endangered, and the moral world totter to its ruin, if such a pillar were to fall. And what is it that maintains and spreads religious principles in the world? What is it that keeps alive on the minds of the people, the fear of God and the belief of His providence? It is the public institutions of religion; the observance of the Lord's day; our assembling together for divine worship.

III. The effect of religious institutions upon men, with regard to their POLITICAL STATE. The political systems that take place in the world, the facility with which the many are governed by the few, is one of the most wonderful things in the history of man. What prevents bloodshed and devastation, and all the evils of war? Nothing! so much as the influence of religious principles upon the minds of men, Christianity gives honour to civil government, as being the ordinance of God, and enjoins subjection to the laws, under its own awful sanctions. And not only by particular precepts, but by its secret and less visible influence, it prepares the minds of men for submission to lawful authority. Obedience to spiritual authority paves the way for subjection to the civil power. Hence wise legislators have, even on this account, favoured the progress of religion.

IV. The influence of religious institutions upon men, with respect to DOMESTIC LIFE. A new bond will be added to the conjugal union, when those whom it connects walk to the house of God in company, take sweet counsel with one another, and set out jointly in the way that leads to life. Watered by the dews of Heaven, which fall here, the olive-plants will flourish round your table. There is a beauty, also, when rich and poor, high and low, who seldom meet together on other occasions, assemble in one place, one great family, in the presence of their common Lord, when they are stripped of every adventitious circumstance, and where virtue makes the only distinction among them. It is the image of those golden times when society began; it is the image of the state which is to come, when God shall be all in all.

(John Logan.)

I. DAVID'S HEART WAS SET UPON THE HOUSE OF GOD ABOVE ALL OTHER THINGS. He was moved thereto by the wonderful, rare, heavenly blessings which are enjoyed there, and nowhere else.

1. Here God gives direction in every good way (Psalm 32:8).

2. Here is plentiful provision both for soul and body (Psalm 34:10; Psalm 37:3, 4).

3. Here is safe protection and preservation, by special providence (Psalm 91:1; Matthew 10:29-31).

4. Here is most admirable remuneration, even in this life, with the honour of grace, and favour to be His friends (John 15:14, 15), and His children (1 John 3:1), and to have the attendance of the angels (Psalm 34:7; Psalm 91:11); but most abundantly in the life to come. Uses —

1. For instruction.(1) See here a plain evidence of the great ignorance and unbelief of natural men in the things of God. Not one in a thousand has David's affection to God's house.(2) Undoubtedly it is a wonderful privilege and prerogative to be a true member of God's Church and to live in His house.

2. For admonition.(1) To try our affection towards the house of God, by David's.(2) To get David's affection to God's house; which will be had by knowing their misery that are out of it.

II. THE MEANS HE USED, AND THE COURSE HE TOOK, TO OBTAIN THIS BLESSING. David did with prayer join other endeavour to get this blessing. The reason of this behaviour is twofold.

1. Obedience to God's ordinance, who required of those who would dwell in His house three things.(1) Repentance from dead works.(2) To be beautified in soul with inward graces, through regeneration, as faith, virtue, godliness, etc.(3) To be adorned in life with new obedience (Psalm 15:2, 3; Psalm 24:3, 4).

2. Desire to enjoy the blessings of God's house, wherein he knew that man's true happiness did stand (Psalm 65:4; Psalm 84:4).


1. For the fruition of the good things of God's house.

2. For his better opportunity to glorify God (Psalm 63:4; Psalm 146:2).

3. He knew that to be out of God's house was to be out of God's favour (Genesis 4:14; 2 Kings 17:18, 20).Uses —

1. For instruction. See plainly in David that the hearts of the godly do sincerely desire and faithfully strive for perseverance in the state of grace which at this day is dwelling in God's house.

2. For admonition to those that are weary of God's house, and the exercise of religion.


1. To behold the beauty of the Lord. As in the works of creation He showed the eternal power and wisdom of the Godhead, so in the ordinances of His service He makes known His justice, goodness, love, and mercy in Jesus Christ.

2. That he may inquire in His temple; i.e. diligently seek direction of God in all cases of doubt or difficulty. Reasons hereof(1) God's own ordinance, directing His people to this duty (Exodus 25:21, 22; 1 Kings 6:19; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 17:8, 9).(2) For the fruition of the benefits add comforts of this privilege. Freedom from many evils that accompany men's miscarriages who walk in their own counsels (Joshua 9:14, etc.). Assurance to be acceptable to God, and blessed of Him in the things they take in hand, even of this world (2 Chronicles 15:2, 15). Undoubted fruition of glory in the life to come (Psalm 73:24). Uses —

1. For instruction. See plainly that the true members of God's Church are advanced in privilege, dignity and honour above all other people.

2. For admonition. It serves effectually to move all who live in the Church to look unto their state and carriage, that it be such as may give them some good assurance that they have right to this privilege. Let us see —(1) That we be in covenant with God, else we have no right to this prerogative.(2) That we keep covenant, living in conscionable obedience.

(T. Pierson.)

Homiletic Review.
David in the midst of a turbulent life finds refuge from the storm in the harbour of God's sanctuary.

I. THE REALIZED FACT THAT HE WHO INHABITS ETERNITY CONDESCENDS TO DWELL IN EARTHLY SANCTUARIES DEDICATED TO HIS WORSHIP. "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion." His presence makes it morally beautiful. He is the light and glory of it. Without Him the most gorgeous temple becomes a tomb.

II. DELIGHT BECAUSE OF ITS AUGUST AND INSPIRING SERVICES. The praise and prayer — the unfolding of the Word of God, and the illumination coming from the effluence of the Holy Spirit.


(Homiletic Review.)

The first word suggests an important thought — Singleness of aim. Men of one idea — specialists. One man weighs so little versus the community, the State, the race, that his whole force and influence are needed in one place to accomplish anything. The rifle-ball has greater penetrating power than shot, not simply because it is larger, but because the force of powder is concentrated on the one projectile. So the men who have penetrated society with their ideas and made a lasting impression. David illustrates this law. He had —

I. A MASTER-PASSION. He was a shepherd boy, yet could say, "One thing," etc. A soldier, renowned; a ruler, with great power; a poet, with great celebrity; a father, full of affection; amid all the changes of his varied fortune, "one thing" was the master-passion of his life.


1. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord," etc. Habitual church-going and fellowship with God: "Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest" (Psalm 65:4).

2. "To behold the beauty of the Lord." Sanctuary, a place for the manifestation of God and for the education of the soul. David wished to appreciate the beauty of the divine character. This required a development of his capacity, a spiritualizing of all his faculties. "God is a Spirit": spiritual things are spiritually discussed. David wished an intimate knowledge of God. Men travel thousands of miles to look upon the beauties of ancient art. These must fade. The "beauty of the Lord" is eternal.

3. "To inquire in His temple." David came to God's house as a learner, an inquirer, sincerely desiring to appropriate to his own heart and life the spirit and excellence, the beauty and worth of Him who condescended to dwell with men and be their God.


1. A literary immortality.

2. The divine approval. "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart." Earth affords no such commendation, no such sweet and lasting reward. For this divine approval brought —

3. Present security (Psalm 27:5), and eternal well-being (Psalm 23:6). Make David's master-passion your own.

(J. C. Allen.)

Prayer is conversing with God. We converse with men, and then we use familiar language, because they are our fellows. We converse with God, and then we use the lowliest, awfulest, calmest language we can, because He is God. Our intercourse with our fellow-men goes on not by sight, but by sound; not by eyes, but by ears. Hearing is the social sense, and language is the social bond. Prayers and praises are the mode of the Christian's intercourse with the next world, and they have an especial influence upon our fitness for claiming it. He who does not use a gift loses it, and he who neglects to pray is but in a way to lose possession of his divine citizenship. He who has not accustomed himself to the language of heaven will be no fit inhabitant of it when, in the Last Day, it is perceptibly revealed. For prayer has a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. And it gives fixedness of mind and of will; and clear perception of duty, and fellowship with the Lord.

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

To behold the beauty of the Lord.
In the New Testament the word "beauty" or "beautiful" is only used once in its literal sense. As in "the gate Beautiful." But the Old Testament has it frequently, and applies it to things, qualities, actions, persons. This one of the differences between the Old Testament and the New, the one teaching the benefits of religion in regard to time, the other in regard to eternity. Hence the Old Testament seeks to bring men into harmony with natural laws; the New, with those which are spiritual. In the one we have truth represented through the senses, but in the other truth is taught in a more spiritual way. There are many scriptures in the Old Testament which speak of beauty, as in text. Reference may be designed to the beauty and splendour of the ritual service of Israel, but the more instructed people rose up from the lower forms of beauty to those higher ones which the house symbolized. Men's first ideas of beauty are physical, and in such beauty there is real pleasure, for which those who possess it may well give God thanks. But the idea of beauty means much more when it is applied to moral qualities. Of these, the earliest which was thought beautiful was courage, the power to do and endure. Then men went on to admire self. sacrifice. The man who would die the most dreadful death rather than desert his post. Or the helmsman who would not quit the wheel-house of his steamboat though she was in flames. Then, a mother's love has always been counted beautiful. Hence all artists have been fond of painting Madonnas. And the love of lovers, because it is the commingling of two hearts. Then the love of the philanthropist. What a halo surrounds the name of Florence Nightingale! And of such men as Kossuth! But to perceive spiritual beauty we must possess it. One of the evidences of Inspiration is its admiration of Moral Beauty, the high praise the Bible gives to goodness. But all such beauty must be real, not pretence, and, when so, it is like music. Melody is beautiful, but harmonies are yet more so. But musical taste is needed to appreciate them. Some prefer a simple ballad to all the glories of Handel or Mozart. No beauty is to be despised, and if the higher be present it will impart some of the lower. The good come to work good. All, therefore, may be beautiful through the possession of moral goodness, and the beauty of moral conduct. You often see this in old and faithful servants. An old servant of my father's was a great saint as well as a most lovable man. To me he was always radiant as an angel. He was not black — to me he was as white as the clouds. And there are many such. On the other hand, a man may be in all his surroundings — house, furniture, etc. — adorned after the manner of a palace, but if he be mean, selfish, sensual, all external beauty will not avail. Let no one mourn that they have not such things. If we could be pictured as we are, what different portraitures there would be! Then love moral beauty everywhere, and despise that which is sensual. Let text be our prayer.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. PRAYERFUL HABITS TEND TO CULTIVATE A FORM OF SUSTAINED THOUGHT. True prayer engages the understanding in its most vigorous efforts, and always in a definite direction — that of God. Prayer, if not a supreme intellectual effort, certainly exercises our highest faculties. As an educational discipline it is very apparent in godly men who have had no scholarly training. They have a power of fixing their attention and of thoughtfully considering a matter in all its bearings, which is of the utmost value to win conclusions.

II. THEY GIVE DECISION OF CHARACTER. Prayer brings the soul into the holy calm of that presence where they are no longer carried to and fro by every passing wind of opinion. In His presence we are enabled to feel, and that with power, that to our own Master we stand or fall. A man can hardly be habitually prayerful and yet be changeable and unreliable. For in God's presence we are lifted into a region where the passions and conflicts of this world cannot enter, and where all seem to say to the agitated soul, "Peace, be still." There have been times when a tumultuous crowd, rushing into a venerable church, where a single priest was saying the sacred office, or where a little company of kneeling worshippers bore witness to other and higher interests than those which stirred the passions of the hour — has been awed, arrested, and turned back from its sacrilegious purpose. The sound of the bell summoning to the accustomed evening prayer has been found sufficient to calm passionate excitement, because of the obedience to the summons it secured, and the consequent soothing influence which was obtained through drawing near to God.

III. PRAYER HAS VERY BLESSED SOCIAL EFFECTS. For it "gilds social intercourse and conduct with a tenderness, an unobtrusiveness, a sincerity, a frankness, an evenness of temper, a cheerfulness, a collectedness, a constant consideration for others, united to a simple loyalty to truth and duty, which leavens and strengthens society."

IV. IN ALL SPIRITUAL WORK OUR EFFICIENCY MAY BE MEASURED BY OUR PRAYERFULNESS. A great deal of the religious teaching of the day is coldly intellectual, and therefore powerless, because it has not been nourished and quickened at the bosom of prayer. But we must not, we cannot, maintain the habit of prayer simply because of these subjective benefits upon our souls. If we do not believe that God answers prayer we shall soon cease to pray.

(E. W: Shalders, B. A.)

I. IN WHAT THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD CONSISTS. We call nothing beautiful but what is pleasing; and we call nothing pleasing in a moral agent, but what is morally excellent, or truly virtuous. The beauty of the Lord, therefore, must signify that, in His moral character, which is pleasing to a virtuous and benevolent heart. His beauty is the beauty of holiness. God is love; which constitutes His supreme beauty, and comprises all that is virtuous and morally excellent in His nature. Pure, disinterested, universal benevolence, forms the most beautiful and amiable character conceivable.

II. GOOD MEN ARE CAPABLE OF SEEING THIS MORAL BEAUTY OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER. Those who love God have the same kind of love that God has and exercises towards them and all holy creatures. They see God as He sees Himself, glorious in holiness, and of consequence, glorious in all His other attributes, which are under the influence of His perfectly benevolent heart. They see supreme beauty and excellence in His power and wisdom, in His justice and sovereignty, in His mercy and grace, as they are continually exercised for the highest good of the universe.


1. Because the goodness of God, which forms His supreme excellence, spreads a glory over all the other perfections of His nature. Saints as well as others can see no excellence in the greatness and majesty of God, separately from His perfect holiness and benevolence.

2. Because it spreads a beauty over His works, as well as character.

3. Because it spreads a beauty over all His conduct.

4. Because it spreads a light and beauty over His Word. It enables those who are holy as God is holy, just as God is just, and good as God is good, to see why He commands all men to love Him supremely. Conclusion —

1. If it be true that the supreme beauty or glory of God consists in His pure and universal goodness, then sinners hate God for that for which alone they ought to love Him supremely.

2. If saints sincerely and ardently desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, then they are essentially different from sinners.

3. If God be perfectly good, and His goodness spreads a moral beauty and excellence over all His perfections, then there is nothing to hinder sinners from loving Him but merely their own selfishness.

4. If the supreme glory of God consists in His goodness, then the more clearly His goodness is exhibited before the minds of sinners, the more difficult they always find it to be to love Him.

5. If saints desire to see the beauty of the Lord, then we see one good reason why they love to attend the public worship of God in His house constantly.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)The vision of the beauty of God: — As we confess our belief in God as Three in One and One in Three, the saying of the psalmist is fulfilled in us who, as we dwell in God's temple, rejoice in the vision of God's beauty.

1. Intense was the longing of the psalmist for that vision. It was the "one thing" he "desired and longed after," and in some faint measure attained to. And here, as ever, he but gives voice to the universal cry of man's spirit. Man cannot know what God is except as God reveals Himself to him, "He dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto;" "He is One whom no man hath seen or can see." The finite cannot know the Infinite One until He brings Himself within the reach of his knowledge. And yet for this knowledge he must of necessity yearn. In the Man Jesus Christ, God in Himself is revealed. We are not of those whose lot is in the night and whose language is but a cry. No, "we are of the day": for us "the darkness is passed and the true light shineth." For us the Trinity is rest in a measure attained: we rest in the vision of the beauty of God.

2. There are two things that especially arrest us in the beauty of God, as we are taught to contemplate it in the creeds of the Church.(1) There is in Him the beauty of unity. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." The unity of God is the primary truth of the Christian faith, and on it as its chief corner stone rests the structure of Christian morality. "Because He is One "we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength." The simplicity of the Christian character is the practical acknowledgment of the unity of God. Because He is One, He only is to be loved and served. "I am the Lord; that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another." A divided allegiance in His sight is treason. Because He is One, He is to be served wholly, He is not the God only of the inner self, or of the external life; He claims to reign without and within.(2) There is in Him the beauty of love. In the one God there are three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Our God is no solitary Monad, eternally and essentially solitary, silent and inactive. He is love, and because love is of the very essence of His Being, He must have in Himself love in eternal action. There are and can be in God no dormant powers, no undeveloped capacities. Deus est purus actus, this is the necessary condition of His eternal perfection. God is love; see this in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. Eternally is the Eternal Son begotten of the Eternal Father; eternally is the Eternal Spirit proceeding from the Eternal Father through the Eternal Son. God is love; within Himself He finds not only an eternal sphere of loving activity, but the satisfaction of love's craving for an eternal communion. The vision of the beauty of love in God draws His people to Him to live in the sunlight of that love. As thus they live, they themselves become possessed by that love which is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. More and more they look on men with eyes enlightened by God's light; they feel for men as does the heart of God. Nay more, as this love possesses them, they rise to higher measures of simplicity of character. Thus then love may dwell in peace; in peace with God; in peace with men: in peace of inner being. Thus gazing on the love of God revealed in the Blessed Trinity, they become themselves conformed to the beauty of His charity and so become to Him a joy.

3. But if we are to live in the vision of God's beauty, there are two essential conditions personal to ourselves.(1) We can only see God when the eyes of our spirits are purified. "The pure in heart see God." For us there cannot be the parity of the unstained. By our very birth we are born blind; by our personal sins our spiritual eyesight has become dim. But there is for us the purity of contrition. By the power of this grace we are cleansed from the blinding sins of the past, and from the obscuring power of failures in the present. Live then the life of penitence: ever yield yourselves up to the guidance of the motive of contrition; avoid sin as you live in the wariness that contrition teaches.(2) And ever remember that this purity can only co-exist with humility.

(G. Body, D. D.)

"The noblest study of mankind is man." Such an oft-quoted, widely accepted dictum at least requires challenge. Is it? On thought, challenge gives place to denial. The noblest study of mankind is not man at all, but God. The knowledge of ourselves and our brethren is very valuable knowledge. Without it there can be no wisdom, But still more urgent and important is it for us to know and understand our common Father. Without this there can be no salvation. When Charles Kingsley lay dying, his daughter, coming quietly into the sick-room, overheard him softly repeating to himself the words, "How beautiful God is!" Kingsley was a true worshipper because he was a lover of God. He had felt and responded to the attractiveness, winsomeness, graciousness; in a word, to all the "gathered delightsomeness" of the Divine character. Have we so learnt God in Christ? Note the purpose that inspired the psalmist's prayer. He longed for further visions of God's beauty — "to see the beauty of the Lord." Strictly speaking, beauty is that property, or, rather, assemblage of properties, in a person or object that delights the eye, and satisfies to the full the keen sense of vision. But as the mind and soul possess what corresponds to the organs of vision in the body, by common consent the same word "beauty" is used to describe all those qualities which charm man's intelligence and make successful appeal to his heart. In our daily speech we not only talk about beautiful faces, and beautiful prospects, we speak of thoughts, dispositions, and deeds as beautiful, too. So that there is no incongruity in using this term to set forth the attractive character of God. Of the God of the Christian, the God of the Bible, it is true not only that "honour and majesty are before Him," but also that strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. So that if we have not yet seen the beauty of the Lord the reason may be that we have not been looking at the right God. I am afraid that Amiel's description of God as the "Great Misunderstood" is pathetically true.

1. Misunderstood doctrines account for much misconception. That most misunderstood doctrine of the Atonement accounts for most. There is a painting in a Continental church which illustrates this. God the Father, with angry face, is seen leaning over the battlements of heaven, aiming the arrows of His wrath at the hearts of men below. In the mid-distance His Son Jesus Christ is shown looking upward in the direction of the arrow-shower, running to meet them, catching them in His person, or breaking them with His hands as they fall. What a travesty of Christ's atoning work! Our salvation took its rise in the Father's heart, and we behold the beauty of the blessed God in the face of Christ on the cross as nowhere else.

2. Another reason why we have not yet beheld the Divine beauty may be the condition of our sight. Spiritual beauty appeals to the eye of the soul, and we know not that we are blind. Eyes we all have, but some of us see not. One of Goethe's characters complains that his soul has only feelers. That might be true at that period of his history, but he started with eyes. The power of spiritual vision is a birthright. And yet how many there are who are groping after God, instead of meditating on His seen glory. They need the opening of the eyes of the heart, which is God's gift of grace.

3. A further reason of our failure to see God's beauty is our impatience and hurry. It takes time to behold.

(A. O. Sauderson, M. A.)

But, it will be asked, is He not rather a dreadful God? Think of the deluge, the overthrow of Sodom, the plagues of Egypt, and so many other events which show that He "is a consuming fire," and that "the Lord Most High is terrible." How can such a God be of an attractive character? Must we not rather recoil from so awful a Being? No, for the terrible is not always repulsive. The sea-storm and the hurricane are terrible; but yet they are fascinating, and, in some sense, attractive, when we can behold them from a place of security. Thousands of spell-bound on-lookers line the shore when a naval battle is in view; and the mortal shock of hostile armies in the field never wants spectators who are drawn by the grandeur of the scene. In like manner, there is a grandeur, a glory, in the terrors of the Lord, when He punishes transgressors, and takes vengeance on His enemies. It is true that the "Lord Most High is terrible," and that "clouds and darkness are round about Him." But other things are true as well; and these are statements which describe only a part, and a single side, of that character in which His works and His Word exhibit Him. But yet mankind are not drawn to God. Why, if He be so attractive, why is it so common to forget and disregard Him? The answer is, not that the character of God is unattractive, but that mankind are stupid, blind, ungrateful. Human nature is morally diseased. And yet He is good to them notwithstanding. Is not this beautiful in Him? And all the loveliness of earth and sea and sky symbolize the beauty of the Lord, the attractiveness of His character. Let us then consider —

I. SOME OF THE ELEMENTS OF THIS BEAUTY. God is a Spirit. Hence His beauty is spiritual. It cannot be that corporeal kind of beauty which affects the external senses of men. That beauty may be, and we believe is, a symbol and a reflection of it. But spiritual beauty must consist of, and arise from, spiritual qualities and attributes. One of these is —

1. Holiness. Sill is not beautiful, though many think it so. But holiness is, and "God is glorious in holiness."

2. His mercy and grace. The attractiveness of them is more easily perceived, and their influence felt by such as we are. And through them, mainly, sinners are won over to God. Let us try, then, to bring them out. There is the great man — the man of high rank — who regards his inferiors with a haughty look. He walks among them, passes through the midst of them, with proud reserve. Is that man amiable? Can his inferiors love him? Not But there is the great man who is the reverse of all this. What do we say of him? He is amiable. He is attractive. He gains the hearts of his inferiors. Now consider how great God is. What are princes, nobles, kings, compared with Him? Well, and how does this great God bear Himself towards us? Is He cold and distant? Does He ignore us and treat us with disdain? Is not the reverse the truth? Yet again. There is the man who has much, and does not distribute to the poor — the rich man, who hoards up his wealth, and gives little or nothing away — who has the needy on every side of him, and is unmoved by their case, and deaf to their cry. Who can love a man so hard? But there is a man whom we love, and who makes his way into our he, arts. It is he who, having wealth, does not keep it to himself, but shares it with such as are less favoured by Providence. Yes, we love that man. There is an attractiveness in his character which we cannot resist. Well, the generous millionaire is, in some measure, like God. In some measure. That is to say, the amiable quality which distinguishes him, we find also in God, and in an infinitely greater degree. Which of us can say that he is not a pensioner on the bounty of God? What has He not given to us? And, above all, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." But how faint is the image of the mercy of God, that we can have from the magnanimity and compassion of the most merciful of men! Who knows the power of His anger? Yet how slow is He to put it forth I It cannot be said that it is easier for Him to pardon and cancel man's sin than to avenge it. But yet He does so.

3. Another thing, which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of His various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colours of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint: a beauty which is the result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner do the several perfections, which co-exist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty.


1. In nature.

2. In the moral law, for the law is full of love.

3. In the Gospel.

4. In Christ — in His mission; His nature; His character.


1. It never deceives. Contrast — Absalom, Pharisees.

2. It never fades.

3. Never loses its power.

4. Nor disappoints.

(Andrew Gray.)

Ere we can conceive the love of gratitude towards another, we must see in him the love of kindness towards us; and thus, by those who have failed to distinguish between a love of the benefit, and a love of the benefactor, has the virtue of gratitude been resolved into the love of ourselves. And they have thought that there must surely be a purer affection than this, to mark the outset of the great transition from sin unto righteousness; and the one they have specified is the disinterested love of God. They have given to this last affection a place so early, as to distract the attention of an inquirer from that which is primary. The invitation of "Come and buy without money, and without price," is not heard by the sinner along with the exaction of loving God for Himself — of loving Him on account of His excellencies — of loving Him because He is lovely. Let us, therefore, try to ascertain whether even this love of moral esteem is not subordinate to the faith of the Gospel; and whether it follows, that because this affection forms so indispensable a part of godliness, faith should, on that account, be deposed from the place of antecedency which belongs to it We readily and abundantly concede that we are not perfect in God's will till the love of moral esteem be in us as well as the love of gratitude — till we love God for Himself. Heaven will be no home for us until we attain to this. How great, then, must be the change which must pass on men of the world ere they are meet for the other world of the spirits of just men made perfect. The natural man can no more admire the Deity through the obscurities in which He is shrouded, than he can admire a landscape which he never saw, and which, at the time of his approach to it, is wrapped in the gloom of midnight. It must be lighted up to him ere he can love it, or enjoy it; and tell us what the degree of his affection for the scenery would be, if, instead of being lighted up by the peaceful approach of a summer morn, it were to blaze into sudden visibility, by the fires of a bursting volcano. Tell us if all the glory and gracefulness of the landscape which had thus started into view, would charm the beholder for a moment from the terrors of his coming destruction! Tell us if it is possible for a sentient being to admit another thought in such circumstances as these, than the thought of his own preservation. Oh, would not the sentiment of fear about himself cast out every sentiment of love for all that he now saw, and, were he only safe, could look upon with ecstasy?-and let the beauty be as exquisite as it may, would not all the power and pleasure of its enchantments fly away from his bosom, were it only seen through the glowing fervency of elements that threatened to destroy him? And so would it be were God in all His holiness, in that character on which the angels gaze with delight, made visible to the natural man. All that is morally fair and magnificent would be before him, but let it all burst upon the eye of a sinner, you may say that he ought to admire and adore, but he cannot; he is in terror, and he can no more look with delight upon God than he can upon a beautiful landscape lit up with the glare of a volcano. Ere we love Him, we must be made to feel the security and the enlargement of one who knows himself to be safe. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me — and then may I love Him and not fear Him; hut it is not so with me. But let us see God reconciled to us, and then, delivered from all fear, we may now open our hearts to the influences of affection. Now we shall delight in God for Himself; the love of moral esteem is now free to take up its abode in us as before it could not do. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And we love much when we know and believe that our sins are forgiven us. The first matter in hand, then, between God and sinners, in the work of making reconciliation, is, that they believe in Him; that they credit the sayings of the Gospel to be faithful sayings. The first thing is not the disinterested love of God — let none be troubled or embarrassed as if it were — but faith. This is the great starting-point of Christian discipleship. Afterwards there will come love, but not first. Let this consideration shut you up. unto the faith. Let it exalt, in your estimation, the mighty importance of a principle, without which there can neither he any sanctification here, nor any salvation hereafter.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

"One thing" may well be enough when it includes "the beauty of the Lord." God sends all men choosing-times, and at such periods destinies are sealed. The wise will only ask for more of God.

I. THE BEAUTY OF JEHOVAH. We feel it in contemplating —

1. The harmonious wholeness of the Divine character. All good is there in due proportion and range.

2. The holiness of God, and especially —

3. The love of God.

4. That he is the perfect armour to the human heart, tie meets all the wants of our nature. His beautifulness is essential, transcendent, inexhaustible.


1. Its services are replete with the Divine beauty.

2. God is the glory of the house.

3. Communion with God is the only essential.


1. It enthralled the psalmist's soul.

2. It powerfully attracted him.

3. It awaited his coming.

4. Endowed him with good.

5. Crowned his being.

(W. B. Haynes.)

Many have felt that the most gracious thing in human life is the sight of a fair woman, tenderly nurtured, threading the gloom of our cities, disdaining no corruption of men, seeking it out rather, the shame and ugliness of it, and bringing ease and hope. Many such we have about us. But there is in all lands one pure virgin — the grace of God — which we have seen searching patiently for His sons in the mire, following them through the haunts of sin, waiting through the rage of evil desire. To see that is to see the beauty of the Lord. When David looked for such discoveries in the Temple be was not thinking of the splendour of the buildings and the ritual. The beauty he thought of belonged to a world of things unseen, to which, at best, our religious art can only provide the symbol. And there is a danger for men of taste of looking for and dwelling in the beauty of accessories, and forgetting the beauty of substance. We all know something of the drowsy spirit which creeps over the Christian, when its one desire is to hear familiar and orthodox phrases sounding again and again. The languor of orthodoxy is not better or worse than the languor of aestheticism; both are connected with things without, with the porch of the pavilion. Within, to reward your seeking, is the King in His beauty. How greatly we all pervert our worship — making it an intellectual gymnastic, or a solemn office of respectability, or a pleasant substitute for piety! The few behold His beauty.

(W. M. Macgregor, M. A.)

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