One thing.

Remarkable, because man desires many things. He may seem satisfied with a few, but when he is asked about it will answer not one, but I will desire all things.

That is peculiar, when that little heart of ours can never be filled, even if we possess all things. Things that often are harmful, man wants. One thing to desire ds to do away with all other things. When all is desired it means that man does not desire God. He depends upon the things as such. In daily life he craves for and seeks after the goods of this world. A great name or the abundance of riches will be his security in this life. He seeks his refuge in minute calculations, depending upon them. He seeks the help of others who must help him, in order that he may maintain himself. And he seeks all these without God, because God is not in all his thoughts.

O yes, he seeks also one thing and in all things one: MAN. Hence, he must be disappointed. For the things pass away and he passes away with them. How dreadful in the days of trouble, when all things are seemingly against us. Things as such cannot help and they are not peace-affording. You are not safe with them, especially not if you depend on and lean on them.

David speaks of his troubles in this Psalm. He speaks of the wicked who were encamped round about him. He speaks of the evil day, of armies and wars, of false witnesses, of men who rose up against him. It was the time of trouble, the time he looked for refuge, a place where he may hide himself against the storm.

One thing have I desired. The One and Only God ds my rock and my hiding place. And that One is Jehovah, Unchangeable and ever faithful Covenant One. In Him David will trust, for He is Almighty, able and willing to protect, never failing, because there is no power besides Him. Who shall oppose God Almighty, the Father of His people, who cares for them, because He loved them from before the foundation of the world?

Trouble and affliction are the means to drive us out to Him. It is often the hard way we must learn this truth. In the life of the Christian we often find the same earthly aspirations in that he seeks the things here below. He often depends upon them at the expense of seeking the One and only thing, God. He often concentrates on the things of the earth, until they are taken away from him and he finds himself alone, helpless, forsaken, enveloped in darkness. He must learn the hard way in that these things must become more and more of no account. That they are obstacles in his relation with God and His service, if we seek after them and desire them. They may never be the purpose of life.

One thing have I desired and One thing I will seek after. And that one thing is God.

Is this perhaps a sickly mysticism? Speaking of his desire, the poet uses figurative language. I desire of the Lord one thing. My desire is to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. And I desire to behold the Lord’s beauty and to enquire in His temple. Did David mean to say, I desire to live in the tabernacle? Our answer is, no! This would be misplaced, because no one lived in the Temple of the Lord, nor in His tabernacle. The only one who lived there was the Lord Himself. Hence, we must not degrade this holy desire and make something earthy of it. The expression ‘to dwell in the house of the Lord’, is not a desire for an unbroken residence in the natural sense of the word. Neither is David seeking a certain well-known seclusion. He does not desire to live an idle life, giving himself to some so- called mystical contemplation. Nor may that be our desire. Some people have the foolish notion that do dwell with the Lord means, to forget all about the earthly duties as they must be performed in harmony with the Word of God. You will find them in town while they must be busy on their farm. You find them speaking about the spiritual (?) things, while they neglect their work, or, while they should be at work they prefer to sit at home to meditate (?).

But David does not know of such false pretenses of worship. David was a very busy man and knew that he must perform the duties assigned unto him. That sort of religion is a waste.

No, David did not wish to separate himself from the rest of the world. He was the King of Israel and called to execute his kingly duties. He had to fight the battles of Jehovah. But David found in the typical expression of the Temple, the spiritual desire of his soul. God dwelt with His people, in that Jehovah dwelt in the tabernacle. In the Holy place, through the Priesthood, Jehovah received their sacrifices. And even the furniture of the Temple and tabernacle were a reminder of the fact that the Lord was their God. He dwelt with them, He provided for them, He was their light and salvation. And once each year the High Priest entered behind the veil to bring the sin-offering, to reconcile the people with God and in returning from the innermost sanctuary, he pronounced the blessing of the Lord in Jehovah’s Name.

Hence, that Temple was a type to David of the blessed covenant communion. Preaching to him, God is the friend of His people, He loves them and blesses them and His people are His friends, they know and love Him, they serve and walk with. Him in His light.

To dwell in the house of the Lord means, to know God as the Only Rock of Salvation, who through sovereign grace forgives the sins of His people. Who sanctifies, glorifies them and leads and protects them over against all their enemies, no matter how mighty they may seem. David means to say, that God is my Rock and place of shelter.

This presupposes in the second place, that David knew Him to be his God. That he loved the Lord, believed in Him. And that, in connection with his troubles the Lord would take care of David and his enemies. Note how David makes this a personal desire. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord. That I may experience His nearness. Here, of course, David means that he may know that the Lord is near him. This implies, not that the Lord is not always near His people. He is always near them. But His people are not always near Him. Not aware of His presence, when they walk in sin and unbelief. Not near Him when they seek the things of the world. Not near Him when they place their trust in all kinds of things, but not in the Lord. Not near Him, when seemingly, the possession of earthly riches, their name, their money, their belongings, take their time and when they are quite well satisfied with them, living as if they; are never going to die. No, but all the days of my life. That is, in all I do and wherever I find myself, I desire to dwell with the Lord and do His bidding.’ To dwell in His presence, consciously.

One thing. For what purpose? David answers: “To behold the beauty of the Lord.” The Lord is beautiful. No, not for man as he is by nature. God is terrible for the sinner to behold. There is no kindness revealed to him and there cannot be a dwelling with the Lord in Covenant friendship relation. His divine holiness is a devouring fire, to those who seek all things except the Lord. But to His people the Lord is beautiful. Beautiful in that He is good and holy and righteous. As such He reveals Himself in and through Jesus Christ. That He cannot and will not have communion with sin and sinner, except when those sins are paid for and forgiven in the blood of His Son. Then and then alone, God looks good to man. Never before will anyone say, God is good. When the covenant relation is restored, man will admire God as the highest good and will confess that God’s virtues are perfect. They admire His love, grace, wisdom, His power and Majesty. He is beautiful in that He forgives their sins. And only in His Temple His people will see that.

One thing. But all the days of my life.

No, it does not mean, that this is so easy. Don’t forget, by implication, we also have here a confession. The confession is, I have not always sought after one thing. David, the man of knowledge of himself, knew how often he had sought after many things. Read his Psalms and one will find confession upon confession of his seeking of the many things, instead of the one. And his desires were not holy. Think of the numbering of the people, of his sin with Bathsheba, the killing of Uriah. We do not need to enumerate them all, for they are well known. But this confession is followed by the earnest desire to get rid of the many things and seek only one, the Lord. Opposites can never be reconciled. This was true of David. Notice, David does not say, I shall try, or I will do my best to enquire after God. Nay, I will, I will, not I wish. In this word we find the combination of prayer and work. David was such a man, that after he prayed he took action. A heartfelt confession will be the beginning of a tremendous struggle. A struggle that will be only possible in the way of prayer. On the other hand, after such prayers persistent actions will become manifest in one’s life. The heart of David went out after one thing, the Lord. The life of David revealed it, that it was not merely vain talk.

David will seek after it. Seek to find, of course. But also that it is a confession of this other fact “God must give it.” In the full realization of one’s own unworthiness a man will be bold to say, I will enquire, that is, I will search after the one thing. Then he will, through prayer become bold in his confession and at the same time seek after with all his might. Moreover, this is not simply a statement of fact, nor a well-rounded out theory, but the expression of the feeling of the heart. The desire is here a need of life (levensnood), without which the seeking becomes a mere matter of speech. Or to say it a little different, David want to be sure of and to rejoice in God’s presence and that at the expense of all other things. He wants God, because apart from God the other things have no value. And even while David was King, mighty and rich, yet the glory and wealth of his kingdom, the glory and honor given him, the victory over the enemies in their subjection to his rule, were nothing compared with God.

So it is always, for every one fearing the Lord. Continually they must be on their guard not to lose themselves in the things of the world. It is the common admonition throughout Scripture, not to seek the world and the things thereof. And it is also one of the most common sins of the Church to forget the warning that the world and the things thereof perish and shall pass away. Hence, this confession of the holy desire of David is at the same time the admonition to the Church “one thing must she desire of the Lord, His presence, to seek after His communion, to behold His beauty, all the days of her life and to enquire after it in His temple.”