Psalm 27:4
One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
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(4) To behold the beauty.—Literally, to see into the favouri.e., to meditate on the graciousness of God.

To enquire . . .—Literally, to look into, either judicially or critically; here, “to ponder or meditate” Ewald, however, and others add with notion of pleasure, “refresh myself,” but on doubtful authority. Some Rabbis, connecting bākar with boker, the morning, render, “to attend in the morning,” while some commentators would entirely spiritualise the wish, as if the actual attendance on the House of God were not in the poet’s thoughts. But the words breathe—only in even a higher key—the feeling of Milton’s well-known

“But let my due feet never fail

To walk the studious cloister’s pale,” &c

A mere transposition of letters would give an easy sense, “to offer in thy Temple.”



Psalm 27:4

We shall do great injustice to this mystical aspiration of the Psalmist, if we degrade it to be the mere expression of a desire for unbroken residence in a material Temple. He was no sickly, sentimental seeker after cloistered seclusion. He knew the necessities and duties of life far better than in a cowardly way to wish to shirk them, in order that he might loiter in the temple, idle under the pretence of worship. Nor would the saying fit into the facts of the case if we gave it that low meaning, for no person had his residence in the temple. And what follows in the next verse would, on that hypothesis, be entirely inappropriate. ‘In the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me.’ No one went into the secret place of the Most High, in the visible, material structure, except the high priest once a year. But this singer expects that his abode will be there always; and that, in the time of trouble, he can find refuge there.

Apart altogether from any wider considerations as to the relation between form and spirit under the Old Covenant, I think that such observations compel us to see in these words a desire a great deal nobler and deeper than any such wish.

I. Let us, then, note the true meaning of this aspiration of the Psalmist.

Its fulfilment depends not on where we are, but on what we think and feel; for every place is God’s house, and what the Psalmist desires is that he should be able to keep up unbroken consciousness of being in God’s presence and should be always in touch with Him.

That seems hard, and people say, ‘Impossible! how can I get above my daily work, and be perpetually thinking of God and His will, and consciously realising communion with Him?’ But there is such a thing as having an undercurrent of consciousness running all through a man’s life and mind; such a thing as having a melody sounding in our ears perpetually, ‘so sweet we know not we are listening to it’ until it stops, and then, by the poverty of the naked and silent atmosphere, we know how musical were the sounds that we scarcely knew that we heard, and yet did hear so well high above all the din of earth’s noises.

Every man that has ever cherished such an aspiration as this knows the difficulties all too well. And yet, without entering upon thorny and unprofitable questions as to whether the absolute, unbroken continuity of consciousness of being in God’s presence is possible for men here below, let us look at the question, which has a great deal more bearing upon our present condition-viz. whether a greater continuity of that consciousness is not possible than we attain to to-day. It does seem to me to be a foolish and miserable waste of time and temper and energy for good people to be quarrelling about whether they can come to the absolute realisation of this desire in this world, when there is not one of them who is not leagues below the possible realisation of it, and knows that he is. At all events, whether or not the line can be drawn without a break at all, the breaks might be a great deal shorter and a great deal less frequent than they are. An unbroken line of conscious communion with God is the ideal; and that is what this singer desired and worked for. How many of my feelings and thoughts to-day, or of the things that I have said or done since I woke this morning, would have been done and said and felt exactly the same, if there were not a God at all, or if it did not matter in the least whether I ever came into touch with Him or not? Oh, dear friends! it is no vain effort to bring our lives a little nearer that unbroken continuity of communion with Him of which this text speaks. And God knows, and we each for ourselves know, how much and how sore our need is of such a union. ‘One thing have I desired, that will I seek after; that I, in my study; I, in my shop; I, in my parlour, kitchen, or nursery; I, in my studio; I, in my lecture-hall-’may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.’ In our ‘Father’s house are many mansions.’ The room that we spend most of our lives in, each of us, at our tasks or our work-tables may be in our Father’s house, too; and it is only we that can secure that it shall be.

The inmost meaning of this Psalmist’s desire is that the consciousness of God shall be diffused throughout the whole of a man’s days, instead of being coagulated here and there at points. The Australian rivers in a drought present a picture of the Christian life of far too many of us-a stagnant, stinking pool here, a stretch of blinding gravel there; another little drop of water a mile away, then a long line of foul-smelling mud, and then another shallow pond. Why! it ought to run in a clear stream that has a scour in it and that will take all filth off the surface.

The Psalmist longed to break down the distinction between sacred and secular; to consecrate work, of whatsoever sort it was. 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.

‘All the days of my life.’ Not only on Wednesday nights, while Tuesday and Thursday are given to the world and self; not only on Sundays; not for five minutes in the morning, when I am eager to get to my daily work, and less than five minutes at night, when I am half asleep, but through the long day, doing this, that, and the other thing for God and by God and with God, and making Him the motive and the power of my course, and my Companion to heaven. And if we have, in our lives, things over which we cannot make the sign of the cross, the sooner we get rid of them the better; and if there is anything in our daily work, or in our characters, about which we are doubtful, here is a good test: does it seem to check our continual communion with God, as a ligature round the wrist might do the continual flow of the blood, or does it help us to realise His presence? If the former, let us have no more to do with it; if the latter, let us seek to increase it.

II. And now let me say a word about the Psalmist’s reason for this aspiration.

The word which he employs carries with it a picture which is even more vividly given us by a synonymous word employed in the same connection in some of the other psalms. ‘That I may dwell in the house of the Lord’-now, 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. The habit exists to this day, and travellers among the Bedouins tell us lovely stories of how even an enemy with the blood of the closest relative of the owner of the tent on his hands, if he can once get in there and partake of the salt of the host, is safe, and the first obligation of the owner of the tent is to watch over the life of the fugitive as over his own. 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.’ Carrying out substantially the same idea, Paul tells the Ephesians, as if it were the very highest privilege that the Gospel brought to the Gentiles: ‘Ye are no more strangers, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God’; incorporated into His family, and dwelling safely in His pavilion as their home.

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! how it minimises 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! He who goes through life, finding that, when he has trouble to meet, it throws him back on God, and that when bright mornings of joy drive away nights of weeping, these wake morning songs of praise, and are brightest because they shine with the light of a Father’s love, will never be unduly moved by any vicissitudes of fortune. Like some inland and sheltered valley, with great mountains shutting it in, that ‘heareth not the loud winds when they call’ beyond the barriers that enclose it, our lives may be tranquilly free from distraction, and may be full of peace, of nobleness, and of strength, on condition of our keeping in God’s house all the days of our lives.

There is another blessing that will come to the dweller in God’s house, and that 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, and our lives to be a heap of links parted from each other rather than a chain. But if we have that one constant thought with us, and if we are, through all the variety of occupations, true to the one purpose of serving and keeping near God, then we have a charm against the frittering away of our lives in distractions, and the misery of multiplicity; and we enter into the blessedness of unity and singleness of purpose; and our lives become, like the starry heavens in all the variety of their motions, obedient to one impulse. For unity in a life does not depend upon the monotony of its tasks, but upon the simplicity of the motive which impels to all varieties of work. So it is possible for a man harassed by multitudinous avocations, and drawn hither and thither by sometimes apparently conflicting and always bewildering, rapidly-following duties, to say, ‘This one thing I do,’ if all his doings are equally acts of obedience to God.

III. So, lastly, note the method by which this desire is realised.

‘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. The most advanced of us, and those that have longest been like Anna, who ‘departed not from the Temple,’ day nor night, will certainly eject ourselves unless, like the Psalmist, we use the verbs in both tenses, and say, ‘One thing have I desired . . . that will I seek after.’ John Bunyan saw that there was a back door to the lower regions close by the gates of the Celestial City. There may be men who have long lived beneath the shadow of the sanctuary, and at the last will be found outside the gates.

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. Many a prayer remains unanswered because its pray-ers never do anything to fulfil their prayers. I do not say they are hypocrites; certainly they are not consciously so, but I do say that there is a large measure of conventionality that means nothing, in the prayers of average Christian people for more holiness and likeness to Jesus Christ.

Dear friends! if we truly wish this desire of dwelling in the house of the Lord to be fulfilled, the day’s work must run in the same direction as the morning’s petition, and we must, like the Psalmist, say, ‘I have desired it of the Lord, so I, for my part, will seek after it.’ Then, whether or not we reach absolutely to the standard, which is none the less to be aimed at, though it seems beyond reach, we shall arrive nearer and nearer to it; and, God helping our weakness and increasing our strength, quickening us to ‘desire,’ and upholding us to ‘seek after,’ we may hope that, when the days of our life are past, we shall but remove into an upper chamber, more open to the sunrise and flooded with light; and shall go no more out, but ‘dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’

Psalm 27:4. One thing have I desired of the Lord — It greatly encouraged David’s confidence in God, that he was conscious to himself of an entire affection to him and his ordinances, and that he was in his element when he was in the way of his duty, and in the way of increasing his acquaintance with God. If our hearts can witness for us, that we delight in God above any creature, we may from thence take encouragement to depend upon him; for it is a proof that we are of those whom he protects as his own. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord — That I may have opportunity of duly and constantly attending on God in the public service of his house, with other faithful Israelites, as the duty of every day may require; all the days of my life — That I may not hereafter be disturbed in, or driven away from God’s sanctuary and worship, as I have been; to behold the beauty of the Lord — That there I may delight myself in the contemplation of his amiable and glorious majesty, and of his infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, truth, grace, and mercy, and other perfections, which, though concealed, in a great measure, from the world, are clearly manifested in his church and ordinances. To inquire in his temple — That is, in his tabernacle, which he here and elsewhere calls his temple; because his ordinances were there administered, as they were afterward to be in the temple. The word לבקר, lebakker, here rendered to inquire, properly signifies to search, or seek diligently, namely, to know the mind and will of God and his own duty; or, to behold the Lord’s beauty, last mentioned, and the light of his countenance, which is discovered more or less, as men are more or less diligent or negligent, in seeking or inquiring into it. When, with an eye of faith and holy love, we behold this beauty; when, with fixedness of thought, and a holy flame of devout affections, we contemplate the divine excellences, and entertain ourselves with the tokens of his peculiar favour to us, we observe in a still higher degree how infinitely amiable and admirable they are, till our hearts are ravished therewith, and we are lost in wonder, love, and praise.

27:1-6 The Lord, who is the believer's light, is the strength of his life; not only by whom, but in whom he lives and moves. In God let us strengthen ourselves. The gracious presence of God, his power, his promise, his readiness to hear prayer, the witness of his Spirit in the hearts of his people; these are the secret of his tabernacle, and in these the saints find cause for that holy security and peace of mind in which they dwell at ease. The psalmist prays for constant communion with God in holy ordinances. All God's children desire to dwell in their Father's house. Not to sojourn there as a wayfaring man, to tarry but for a night; or to dwell there for a time only, as the servant that abides not in the house for ever; but to dwell there all the days of their life, as children with a father. Do we hope that the praising of God will be the blessedness of our eternity? Surely then we ought to make it the business of our time. This he had at heart more than any thing. Whatever the Christian is as to this life, he considers the favour and service of God as the one thing needful. This he desires, prays for and seeks after, and in it he rejoices.One thing have I desired of the Lord - One main object; one thing that I have especially desired; one thing which has been the object of my constant wish. This ruling desire of his heart the psalmist has more than once adverted to in the previous psalms (compare Psalm 23:6; Psalm 26:8); and he frequently refers to it in the subsequent psalms.

That will I seek after - As the leading object of my life; as the thing which I most earnestly desire.

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord - See the notes at Psalm 23:6.

All the days of my life - Constantly; to the end. Though engaged in other things, and though there were other objects of interest in the world, yet he felt that it would be supreme felicity on earth to dwell always in the temple of God, and to be employed in its sacred services, preparatory to an eternal residence in the temple above. To him the service of God upon earth was not burdensome, nor did he anticipate that he would ever become weary of praising his Maker. How can a man be prepared for an eternal heaven who finds the worship of God on earth irksome and tedious?

To behold the beauty of the Lord - Margin, "the delight." The word rendered "beauty" here - נעם nô‛am - means properly "pleasantness;" then, "beauty, splendor;" then, "grace, favor." The reference here is to the beauty or loveliness of the divine character as it was particularly manifested in the public worship of God, or by those symbols which in the ancient worship were designed to make that character known. In the tabernacle and in the temple there was a manifestation of the character of God not seen elsewhere. The whole worship was adapted to set forth his greatness, his glory, and his grace. Great truths were brought before the mind, fitted to elevate, to comfort, and to sanctify the soul; and it was in the contemplation of those truths that the psalmist sought to elevate and purify his own mind, and to sustain himself in the troubles and perplexities of life. Compare Psalm 73:15-17.

And to inquire in his temple - Or tabernacle. The word used here would be applicable to either, considered as the "palace" or the residence of Yahweh. As the temple was not, however, built at this time, the word must here be understood to refer to the tabernacle. See the notes at Psalm 5:7. The meaning of the passage is, that he would wish to seek instruction, or to obtain light on the great questions pertaining to God, and that he looked for this light in the place where God was worshipped, and by means of the views which that worship was adapted to convey to the mind. In a manner still more direct and full may we now hope to obtain just views of God by attendance on his worship. The Christian sanctuary - the place of public worship - is the place where, if anywhere on earth, we may hope to have our minds enlightened; our perplexities removed; our hearts comforted and sanctifed, by right views of God.

4, 5. The secret of his confidence is his delight in communion with God (Ps 16:11; 23:6), beholding the harmony of His perfections, and seeking His favor in His temple or palace; a term applicable to the tabernacle (compare Ps 5:7). There he is safe (Ps 31:21; 61:5). The figure is changed in the last clause, but the sentiment is the same.4 One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me-therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Psalm 27:4

"One thing." Divided aims tend to distraction, weakness, disappointment. The man of one book is eminent, the man of one pursuit is successful. Let all our affection be bound up in one affection, and that affection set upon heavenly things. "Have I desired" - what we cannot at once attain, it is well to desire. God judges us very much by the desire of our hearts. He who rides a lame horse is not blamed by his master for want of speed, if he makes all the haste he can, and would make more if he could; God takes the will for the deed with his children. "Of the Lord." This is the right target for desires, this is the well into which to dip our buckets, this is the door to knock at, the bank to draw upon; desire of men, and lie on the dunghill with Lazarus: desire of the Lord, and be carried of angels into Abraham's bosom. Our desires of the Lord should be sanctified, humble, constant, submissive, fervent, and it is well if, as with the Psalmist, they are all molten into one mass. Under David's painful circumstances we might have expected him to desire repose, safety, and a thousand other good things, but no, he has set his heart on the pearl, and leaves the rest. "That will I seek after." Holy desires must lead to resolute action. The old proverb says, "Wishers and woulders are never good housekeepers," and "wishing never fills a sack." Desires are seeds which must be sown in the good soil of activity for they will yield no harvest. We shall find our desires to be like clouds without rain, unless followed up by practical endeavours. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." For the sake of communion with the King, David longed to dwell always in the palace; so far from being wearied with the services of the Tabernacle, he longed to be constantly engaged in them, as his lifelong pleasure. He desired above all things to be one of the household of God, a home-born child, living at home with his Father. This is our dearest wish, only we extend it to those days of our immortal life which have not yet dawned. We pine for our Father's house above, the home of our souls; if we may but dwell there for ever, we care but little for the goods or ills of this poor life. "Jerusalem the golden" is the one and only goal of our heart's longings. "To behold the beauty of the Lord." An exercise both for earthly and heavenly worshippers. We must not enter the assemblies of the saints in order to see and be seen, or merely to hear the minister; we must repair to the gatherings of the righteous, intent upon the gracious object of learning more of the loving Father, more of the glorified Jesus, more of the mysterious Spirit, in order that we may the more lovingly admire, and the more reverently adore our glorious God. What a word is that, "the beauty of the Lord!" Think of it, dear reader! Better far - behold it by faith! What a sight will that be when every faithful follower of Jesus shall behold "the King in his beauty!" Oh, for that infinitely blessed vision! "And to enquire in his temple." We should make our visits to the Lord's house enquirers' meetings. Not seeking sinners alone, but assured saints should be enquirers. We must enquire as to the will of God and how we may do it; as to our interest in the heavenly city, and how we may be more assured of it. We shall not need to make enquiries in heaven, for there we shall know even as we are known; but meanwhile we should sit at Jesus' feet, and awaken all our faculties to learn of him.

Psalm 27:5

This verse gives an excellent reason for the Psalmist's desire after communion with God, namely, that he was thus secured in the hour of peril. "For in the time of trouble," that needy time, that time when others forsake me, "he shall hide me in his pavilion:" he shall give me the best of shelter in the worst of danger. The royal pavilion was erected in the centre of the army, and around it all the mighty men kept guard at all hours; thus in that divine sovereignty which almighty power is sworn to maintain, the believer peacefully is hidden, hidden not by himself furtively, but by the king, who hospitably entertains him. "In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me." Sacrifice aids sovereignty in screening the elect from harm. No one of old dared to enter the most holy place on pain of death; and if the Lord has hidden his people there, what foe shall venture to molest them? "He shall set me up upon a rock." Immutability, eternity, and infinite power here come to the aid of sovereignty and sacrifice. How blessed is the standing of the man whom God himself sets on high above his foes, upon an impregnable rock which never can be stormed! Well may we desire to dwell with the Lord who so effectually protects his people.

Psalm 27:6

"And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me." - He is quite sure of it. Godly men of old prayed in faith, nothing wavering, and spoke of the answer to their prayers as a certainty. David was by faith so sure of a glorious victory over all those who beset him, that he arranged in his own heart what he would do when his foes lay all prostrate before him; that arrangement was such as gratitude suggested. "Therefore will I offer in his tabernacles sacrifices of joy." That place for which he longed in his conflict, should see his thankful joy in his triumphant return. He does not speak of jubilations to be offered in his palace, and feastings in his banqueting halls, but holy mirth he selects as most fitting for so divine a deliverance. "I will sing." This is the most natural mode of expressing thankfulness. "Yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord." The vow is confirmed by repetition, and explained by addition, which addition vows all the praise unto Jehovah. Let who will be silent, the believer when his prayer is heard, must and will make his praise to be heard also; and let who will sing unto the vanities of the world, the believer reserves his music for the Lord alone.

Though I am exercised with many troubles, there is but one thing that I am very solicitous for, or desirous of, and that is not victory and triumphs over all mine enemies, assured peace and settlement in my throne, the wealth, and pleasure, and glory of enlarging or ruling my empire: or if I have any desire to any of those things, it is chiefly that I may not be disturbed in or driven from the sanctuary and worship of God as I have been, but may have opportunity of constant attendance upon God; that there I may exercise and delight myself in the contemplation of thy amiable and glorious majesty, and of the infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, truth, grace, and mercy, and other perfections, which though hid in a great measure from the world, are clearly manifested in thy church and ordinances. To inquire; or, diligently to seek; either God’s face and favour; or his mind and will, and my own duty; or

the Lord’s beauty, last mentioned, which is discovered more or less, as men are diligent ot negligent in seeking or inquiring into it.

In his temple, i.e. in his tabernacle; which he here and elsewhere calls his

temple, because it was the same thing for substance; and because his thoughts and affections did constantly and eagerly run out upon the temple; and since he was not permitted to build the thing, he would at least take occasion to solace himself with the name, and thereby to enter his protest of his earnest desire to build it, if God had seen it fit.

One thing have I desired of the Lord,.... Not to be returned to Saul's court; nor to his own house and family; nor to have an affluence of worldly riches and honours; but to have constant abode it, the house of the Lord; an opportunity of attending continually on the public worship of God; which is excused and neglected by many, and is a weariness to others, but was by the psalmist preferred to everything else; he being now deprived of it, as it seems;

that will I seek after; by incessant prayer, until obtained; importunity and perseverance in prayer are the way to succeed, as appears from the parable of the widow and unjust judge;

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life: not in heaven, Christ's Father's house, where he dwells, and where the saints, will dwell to all eternity; though to be clothed upon with the house from heaven is very desirable; rather, in the church of the living God, which is the house of God, and pillar of truth, where true believers in Christ have a place and a name, and are pillars that will never go out; but here the place of divine worship seems to be meant, where the Lord granted his presence, and where to dwell the psalmist counted the greatest happiness on earth; he envied the very sparrows and swallows, that built their nests on the altars in it; and reckoned a day in it better than a thousand elsewhere; and to have the privilege of attending all opportunities in it, as long as he lived, is the singular request he here makes: the ends he had in view follow;

to behold the beauty of the Lord, or "the delight and pleasantness of the Lord" (g); to see the priests in their robes, and doing their office, as typical of Christ the great High Priest; and the Levites and singers performing their work in melodious strains, prefiguring the churches in Gospel times, singing to the Lord with grace in their hearts, and the four and twenty elders, and one hundred and forty four thousand, with the Lamb on Mount Zion, singing the song of redeeming love; and all the tribes and people of Israel, assembled together to worship God, representing the church of Christ as a perfection of beauty, having the beauty of the Lord upon her, and made perfectly comely through his comeliness; as it is a most delightful sight to see a company of saints attending Gospel worship, meeting together to sing, and pray, and hear the word, and wait upon the Lord in all his appointments; to see them walking in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel, and according to the order of it; this is next to the desirable sight of the bride, the Lamb's wife, in the New Jerusalem state, having the glory of God upon her: moreover, it was a pleasant sight to a believer in those times to behold the sacrifices of slain beasts, which were figures of the better sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; to which may be added other things that were to be seen by priests; as the ark of the Lord, which had the two tables in it, typical of Christ, the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness; and the table of shewbread, which pointed out Christ the bread of life, and his perpetual intercession for his people; and the golden candlestick, a type of the church, holding forth the word of life to others; with many other things, which, with an eye of faith, the saints of those times could look upon with delight and pleasure: also the presence of the Lord may be intended by his beauty, than which nothing is more desirable to the people of God, even to behold his smiling countenance, to see his face, and enjoy his favour, and to have fellowship with him, and with one another; and particularly the beauty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ may be designed, represented by the Shechinah, or glory, which filled both the tabernacle and the temple; who being the brightness of his Father's glory, and fairer than the children of men, and altogether lovely and full of grace, is a very desirable object to be beheld by faith;

and to inquire in his temple; to seek the face of the Lord, to consult him in matters of difficulty and moment; to search after the knowledge of divine things, and to ask for blessings of grace, for which he will be inquired of by his people, to bestow them on them.

(g) "amaemotate, Jehovae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; so Ainsworth; "suavitatem Jehovae", Cocceius, Michaelis.

{c} One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

(c) The loss of country, wife and all worldly conveniences would not grieve me as much as this one thing, that I may not praise your name in the midst of the congregation.

4. One thing have I desired] R.V., One thing have I asked; above all others as the climax of my petitions.

to behold] The word implies a wondering and delighted gazing.

the beauty] Or, pleasantness; not merely the outward beauty of the sanctuary and its worship, but the gracious kindliness of Jehovah to His guests. Cp. Psalm 16:11; Psalm 90:17; Proverbs 3:17.

to inquire in his temple] Investigating His character and dealings with men. For knowledge gained and doubts solved by meditation in the Temple see Psalm 73:17. We may also render, to consider his temple (R.V. marg.); to contemplate it, for the sanctuary and its ordinances were to the devout worshipper symbols of heavenly realities. Cp. Isaiah 6.

4–6. To be Jehovah’s guest and live secure under His protection is the Psalmist’s chief desire; and even now he confidently anticipates deliverance from his foes. Psalm 27:4 can hardly be understood literally of a lifelong residence in the Temple. Rather, as in Psalm 23:4-5; Psalm 15:1, Jehovah is thought of as the royal host, whose guests are secure under His protection, and enjoy familiar intercourse with Him. But the language is suggested by the possibility of approach to God in His earthly house, and perhaps by the suppliant’s right of asylum there.

Verse 4. - One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after. A most emphatic introduction of the new topic! Amid all my joy and jubilation, there is still one thing which I need, which I entreat Jehovah to grant - that thing I shall continue to seek after until I obtain it, viz. that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. The psalmist is evidently debarred access to the sanctuary; he feels his exclusion from it a terrible privation; he longs to be there - to "dwell" there (comp. Psalm 26:8); to offer there "sacrifices of joy" (ver. 6); to sing there psalms of thanksgiving. He would fain also behold the beauty of the Lord - τὴν τερηνότητα, LXX. - " all that is engaging and gracious in his revelation of himself" (Kay); "not the outward beauty of the sanctuary, but the gracious attributes which its ritual symbolized" ('Speaker's Commentary'). And to inquire in his temple. It has already appeared, from Psalm 5:7, that the word "temple" or "palace" (heykal) was applied in David's time to the tabernacle. Psalm 27:4There is only one thing, that he desires, although he also has besides full satisfaction in Jahve in the midst of strangers and in trouble. The future is used side by side with the perfect in Psalm 27:4, in order to express an ardent longing which extends out of the past into the future, and therefore runs through his whole life. The one thing sought is unfolded in שׁבתּי וגו. A life-long dwelling in the house of Jahve, that is to say intimate spiritual intercourse with the God, who has His dwelling (בית), His palace (היכל) in the holy tent, is the one desire of David's heart, in order that he may behold and feast upon (חזה בּ of a clinging, lingering, chained gaze, and consequently a more significant form of expression than חזה with an accusative, Psalm 63:3) נעם ה (Psalm 90:17), the pleasantness (or gracefulness) of Jahve, i.e., His revelation, full of grace, which is there visible to the eye of the spirit. The interpretation which regards amaenitas as being equivalent to amaenus cultus takes hold of the idea from the wrong side. The assertion that בּקּר בּ is intended as a synonym of חזה בּ, of a pleased and lingering contemplation (Hupf., Hitz.), is contrary to the meaning of the verb, which signifies "to examine (with ל to seek or spie about after anything, Leviticus 13:36), to reflect on, or consider;" even the post-biblical signification to visit, more especially the sick (whence בּקּוּר הלים), comes from the primary meaning investigare. An appropriate sense may be obtained in the present instance by regarding it as a denominative from בּקשׁ and rendering it as Dunash and Rashi have done, "and to appear early in His temple;" but it is unnecessary to depart from the general usage of the language. Hengstenberg rightly retains the signification "to meditate on." בּהיכלו is a designation of the place consecrated to devotion, and לבקּר is meant to refer to contemplative meditation that loses itself in God who is there manifest. In Psalm 27:5 David bases the justification of his desire upon that which the sanctuary of God is to him; the futures affirm what Jahve will provide for him in His sanctuary. It is a refuge in which he may hide himself, where Jahve takes good care of him who takes refuge therein from the storms of trouble that rage outside: there he is far removed from all dangers, he is lifted high above them and his feet are upon rocky ground. The Chethb may be read בּסכּה, as in Psalm 31:21 and with Ewald 257, d; but, in this passage, with אהל alternates סך, which takes the place of סכּה in the poetic style (Psalm 76:3; Lamentations 2:6), though it does not do so by itself, but always with a suffix.

(Note: Just in like manner they say in poetic style צידהּ, Psalm 132:15; פּנּהּ, Proverbs 7:8; מדּה, Job 11:9; גּלּהּ, Zechariah 4:2; and perhaps even נצּהּ, Genesis 40:10; for צידתהּ, פּנּתהּ, מדּתהּ, גּלּתהּ, and נצּתהּ; as, in general, shorter forms are sometimes found in the inflexion, which do not occur in the corresponding principal form, e.g., צוּרם, Psalm 49:15, for צוּרתם; מגוּרם, Psalm 55:16, for מגוּרתם; בּערמם, Job 5:13, for בּערמתם; בּתבוּנם, Hosea 13:2, for בּתבוּנתם; פּחם; Nehemiah 5:14, for פּחתם; cf. Hitzig on Hosea 13:2, and Bttcher's Neue Aehrenlese, No. 693.)

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