Psalm 27:3-4 - Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. 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.
Folk tales and legends tell of people who receive three wishes, perhaps granted by a magic lamp or a captured leprechaun. As the stories go, the supposedly fortunate individuals usually get into trouble with foolish requests (resulting in the need to use their last wish to get themselves out of trouble).
David, the inspired author of our psalm, has no need of folk tales and imaginary wishes. With confident faith, he brings his single request before the throne of God. Before he voices his request, David speaks of the evildoers and adversaries who attack him. False witnesses have risen against him. We might expect the psalmist to ask God for a powerful army of his own or maybe a personal bodyguard of angels.
David asks for none of those things. He asks only one thing of the Lord, that he might be allowed to dwell in the temple—in the house of the Lord—all the days of his life. There the Lord will conceal him "under the cover of His tent" (Psalm 27:5b). But David isn't simply seeking safety. He wants to dwell in the Lord's house "to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple." The psalmist wants to praise the beauty and majesty of the God who saves him from his enemies. He wants to inquire in the temple, to learn more about his Lord and Savior. Surrounded by enemies, yet sheltered by the Lord, David is concerned above all else with the beauty of the Lord and the precious wisdom of His Word.
Physical enemies, or the unseen, but no less real foes of guilt, worry, and doubt may surround us. Three wishes—or wishful thinking—are no help. Like the psalmist, we seek that "one thing": to be in the Lord's house, sheltered by His presence and learning from His Word. The Word testifies to a victory over our enemies that has already been won. Like His ancestor David, Jesus our Lord was surrounded by enemies. False witnesses rose up against Him. But Jesus was not delivered from His foes. For our sake He was condemned and crucified, carrying our sins in His body to the cross, suffering the penalty of death in our place. For us He rose from death, and sin, death, and Satan fell in defeat.
It is the "one thing" we need, to dwell in the house of the Lord, praising His glory, praising Him for all that He has done for us and learning from His Word. Jesus, like His ancestor David, spoke of our anxious fears and that one necessary thing: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
THE PRAYER: Lord, we look forward to the day when we will dwell in Your presence forever. Until then, lead us by Your Spirit to worship in Your house and learn from Your holy Word. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. Does your faith in God give you a sense of safety and protection during uncertain times?
2. Have you ever felt as if you had enemies encamped round about you? Care to elaborate?
3. How much do you get from your church attendance? Do you wish your church did some things differently?
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