Dwell Forever (Psalm 27)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 3
- Hymns: LSB #933, 855, 763, 629, 774
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 (Psalm 27:4).
Asking questions is considered one of the ways where we learn the easiest. The more questions we ask, the more we learn. This is why the Catechism is written in question-and-answer format. The catechism asks a question. It then gives us the answer.
God wants us to ask Him questions. He appears to Solomon in a dream and says, "Ask what I shall give you" (1 Kings 3:5). God wants us to ask Him for our heart's desire. Our only problem is that the desires of our hearts are naturally evil. "Every intention of the thoughts of [your] heart [is] only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
We see this in Martha. Martha, Martha, Martha! She was so worried about everything else. She forgot what was important. Jesus was in her house! Everything had to go perfectly! But Mary was being lazy. She was bugging Jesus by just sitting there! She asks Jesus for her heart's desire, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?" (Luke 10:40) Jesus shakes His head. Martha's heart's desire is for Mary to get off the floor. But instead of rebuking Mary, Jesus rebukes Martha! He calls out her heart's evil desire. She's anxious about keeping everything in order. And Jesus came into the flesh to set everything in order.
He sets everything in order by cleansing our hearts with His shed blood to seek proper desires. "You, who were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him" (Colossians 1:21-22). He allows you to seek after His will because He has revealed it in His body broken for you. His blood shed for you. With these He cleanses your heart so that it is the "one thing have I asked of the Lord" (v4). So that it is the right desire of your heart.
The desire to "dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (v4). This is God's desire. He created Adam and Eve so that He might have a relationship with them in Eden. To walk with them in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). We pray for a return to this blessed state every time we pray the twenty-third Psalm: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (6). Our daily prayer should be Abraham's words to God: "O Lord, if I have found favor in Your sight, do not pass by Your servant" (Genesis 18:3). If I have found favor, LORD, allow me to dwell in Your house. We gained entrance into God's house through our Baptism into Christ's death. But we must seek to continue to dwell in His house daily. Luther talks about a daily return to our Baptism (SC IV 7).
- What does such baptizing with water indicate?
- It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
We dwell in God's house by being in His Word. In His Word, He gives us the forgiveness of our sins. In His Word, He tells us of the wonderful renewal of all things on the Last Day. In His Word, He gives you the ability to sing: "Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul" (LSB #763.2). In His Word, God promises, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). In His Word, God gives you the faith to believe that even though "my father and my mother have forsaken me ... the LORD will take me in" (v10). In His Word, Jesus says, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3). The promise of dwelling in God's house forever in Heaven brings us great peace. "It is well with my soul" (LSB #763).
And our souls will have the privilege of being able "to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD" (v4). Only in eternity will we be able to obtain Moses' wish: "Please show me Your glory" (Exodus 33:18). God commands us to seek His face (v8). Nowhere is this seen better than in the Christmas story. The holy, eternal Son of God, through whom "all things were made ... and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3), humbled Himself so that we could see His face and live. God had told Moses, "You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live" (Exodus 33:20). Under the curse of the Law, no one could see God and live. Under the blessing of the Gospel, everyone who sees God in the person of His Son lives eternally (Colossians 1:23). This is "the glory of this mystery [now revealed to His saints], which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-27). This hope of glory is expressed throughout the Psalm:
- The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (v1)
- He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent (v5).
- I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of living! (v13)
With these promises, our prayer continues to be, "And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll" (LSB #763.4). That we may see God's glory and gaze upon His beauty forever and ever. The clouds being rolled back so that we might see into Heaven. To gaze at God's abode. Our home after this life. Where we are going when this journey ends.
At the end of this journey, I will "know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). But until then, we must "inquire in His Temple" (v4). So we come to His Temple like faithful Mary (Luke 10:39). But some times we're not just listening. We're crying out, "Be gracious to me and answer me!" (v7) Crying out like Abraham and Sarah, still waiting for the fulfillment of God's promise. "Be gracious to me and answer me!" The LORD appears to Abraham on His way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He tells Abraham, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son" (Genesis 18:10). God's grace in the promised flesh of Isaac. The promised seed through whom the nation of Israel would come (Genesis 17:16). Abraham and Sarah both laughed at God's grace (Genesis 17:17; 18:12). "But," Jesus says, "one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).
We inquire in God's Temple for His grace to be shown to us. In this inquiry, you find the beauty of the LORD. In this inquiry, you find our eternal dwelling place with our heavenly Father. In this inquiry, you are cleansed of our evil. In this inquiry, you find Jesus. The good portion, which will not be taken away from you. Amen.
Lord, our God, You are merciful and kind, true and faithful. Preserve us in Your Word, and guard Your Church against all oppressors and faithless leaders. Grant peace to our country, and wisdom to our government to protect right and truth, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.