The One Thing
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 on 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 sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
The journey of faith calls for singleness of purpose and keeping the main thing, the main thing. In this psalm of David we see his passionate pursuit of the one essential: “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek.” To the rich young ruler Jesus said, “Only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:42). Jesus told a story of a merchant who sold everything he possessed so that he might gain the one thing, the one pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45). Similarly, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians about the “One thing I do” (Philippians 3:13). Singleness of purpose is essential to the spiritual life.
For David the one thing he pursued was to “dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” David’s one consuming desire was to live in awareness of God’s presence all day, every day of his life. The temple had not yet been built, so David is talking about constant and close aliveness to God who is always with us. This “one thing” is the key to David’s incredible life.
Living in daily alertness to God’s presence, David longs to “gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek him in his temple”. David wants to contemplate the transcendent beauty of God and learn from Him. David desires this one thing more than any other.
An added blessing of practiced awareness to God’s presence is experiencing His protection: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” David is alluding to the sacred code of hospitality in the ancient Orient. When a traveler came to a stranger’s tent, the occupant was honor bound to provide protection and provision. Similarly, David knows that by entering God’s presence the Lord will keep him “safe in his dwelling” and hide him “in the shelter of his sacred tent”. There, in the safety of God’s presence David will “sacrifice with shouts of joy” and “sing and make music to the LORD”. This is the blessedness and joy of living in God’s presence and delighting in the wonder of His beauty. This is the one thing worthy of our single-hearted pursuit.
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