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“One thing I ask from the Lord,

this only do I seek:

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 seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble,

he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle

and set me high upon a rock.” (Ps 27: 4 – 5)

For several weeks now I have been intrigued by the idea of King David gazing upon the Lord’s beauty. What can it possibly mean? Was he asking for some sort of manifestation of God’s glory, a vision of some kind

The beginning of the psalm describes God’s faithfulness in the midst of trouble. The Lord is the king’s light, salvation and stronghold. Therefore, how can he submit to fear? He expresses certain confidence that when armies of enemies attack and advance, their efforts will fall to nothing.

He can declare his faith in a moment of battle and speak it out for all to hear, but his greatest desire is to know it deep in his heart, all of the time. He wants to dwell in the house of the Lord and experience the assurance of the Lord’s safety all day, every day. He wants to know what it is to hide in the shelter of His tabernacle.

Perhaps we all want that.

A key to living in that reality seems to me to be somehow entwined in the phrase, “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”. I asked some friends recently what they thought it might mean.

Some felt it was similar to expressing awe and wonder at God’s creation. Go for a walk along the beach, watch a sunset, or admire the sights and sounds of your back garden. Gaze upon the beauty of nature (and smell, touch and listen) and worship the Creator.

Some suggested we could remind ourselves of God’s attributes. God is infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing. He is wise, faithful, good and full of love. He never changes, never sins and always hears our cries. He is just and merciful. And so much more.

To me, it feels like an expression calling us to stop. Gazing isn’t a glance or a quick look in His direction. It is an intentional resting from activity to focus on the source of life. The source of my life. The source of all life.

To seek Him in his temple takes time. Perhaps it is similar to laying down in green pastures with the Lord (Ps 23: 2) or sitting at the feet of Jesus as Mary did in Luke 10: 39.

I believe that as we learn to do that in the midst of stress and trials, as David did, we will discover new depths of peace. New wisdom and grace will flow from eternal wells, and we will be in awe once again of the Lord’s beauty.