One Thing I Desire

Psalm 27:4 (ESV) … “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.”


One thing have I desired of theLord. One main object; one thing that I have specially 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 (comp. Ps. 23:6; 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. 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 on 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. Marg., the delight. The word rendered beauty here—נֹעַם, noam—means properly pleasantness; then, beauty, splendour; then, grace, favour. 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. Comp. Ps. 73:15–17.


And to inquire in his temple. Or tabernacle. The word here used would be applicable to either, considered as the palace or the residence of Jehovah. As the temple was not, however, built at this time, the word must here be understood to refer to the tabernacle. See Notes on Ps. 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 sanctified, by right views of God.[1]




[1] Barnes, A. (1870–1872). Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 238–239). London: Blackie & Son.

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