“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” (Psalm 27:4)
David was the ruler of a vast kingdom, the anointed leader of the covenantal people of God. Upon his shoulders rested the enormous burden of government. Prior to that, he was a shepherd and a soldier. A veteran in both the green pasture and the battlefield, David had slain lions and bears; and displayed exceptional valour in many military campaigns against the enemies of Israel. Nonetheless, David was a flesh-and-blood man, and as such he was not immune to errors and sin. Reading through the psalms of David, we are brought face to face with many of his struggles, fears and pain.
“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me“ (Psalm 3:1)
“For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long” (Psalm 38:4-6)
David had not only been on the low ebb of human experience, but his soul had soared to the greatest heights of emotions.
“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High” (Psalm 9:1-2)
“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:8-9)
Like us, David was a mere man. He was not endowed with some extraordinary, superhuman qualities that we can only admire from a distance off. He was not spared the experience of doubts, sorrow, joy and tears common to all descendants of Adam. In fact, he experienced these emotions to a degree greater than many of us living in a relatively safe, affluent society like Singapore.
David’s psalms provide ample evidence that at the very centre, in the eye of whatever emotional storm he endured, God was present. During his mountaintop experiences of joy, God was right there with him. His focus was on God; his very existence revolved around God. The Most High was his all-consuming purpose. The one desire of his burning heart was to be in the presence of the Almighty – to worship Him, to adore Him, to learn of Him. He was resolved to live and die in the presence of his Master. This earnest desire was expressed in other psalms which David penned (c.f. Psalm 23:6; 26:8).
Despite the earthly honour that God had graciously bestowed upon him, David looked beyond the gift and yearned for the Giver Himself. Would to God that the same holy desire burns within the heart of every Christian today in this materialistic world! Do we pray on bended knees only to present God with a wish-list or ‘grocery’ list? We hear at times men claiming the promise “ask, and ye shall receive” (c.f. John 16:24); however this verse has too often been twisted and mauled to serve the avarice of the human heart.
James warned, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3)
David yearned to be in the presence of God, to enjoy His company because, and only because, of his great love for the Godhead. Remove that from him, deprive him of God’s presence and David would be undone – even if he were to have all the kingdoms of the world.
A month of the year has passed us by. It is not too late to resolve like David to dwell in the holy presence of God, to behold His beauty and to inquire of Him through His Word. Our blessed Lord has expressed it thus, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
May the Lord our God be the chief of all our heart’s desire.