Monday, May 14, 2007

The Happiness of Dwelling with God

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah.
(Psalm 84:4)
This is not perfunctory praise, something we do because we ought to. No, this is heartfelt; it flows naturally from the happiness of living continually in God’s presence. What is this happiness? Dwelling in the courts of God. This is not just visiting God on certain occasions, but taking up residence with Him, to enjoy continual fellowship with Him. That has been God’s desire for us all along. It was also the cry of David’s heart:
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
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)
The highest purpose and greatest blessing of dwelling in the house of the Lord is to gaze upon His beauty. This is not a passing glimpse, but a lifelong contemplation of the divine, which satisfies all desires. The companion to gazing upon His beauty is to “inquire in His temple.” The Hebrew word for “inquire” literally means to plough, or to break forth. To “inquire in His temple” is to diligently seek out and consider all the things of God, to know Him more and more, and experience breakthrough after breakthrough with Him. God is infinite in all His aspects, and the true fascination of time and eternity is to know Him.

The Westminster Catechism says that the “chief end of man,” that is, why we were created, “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” John Piper, a Baptist theologian of today who has carefully considered what it means to dwell with God, adjusts that to say, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” That is the happiness of dwelling with God.

It is the happiness of lovers. The story is told of an old man who, day after day, would go into a church and sit before a statue of Jesus for hours. After seeing this, a church worker finally came up to him one day and asked, “What do you do in all this time?” The man answered very simply: “I look at Him. He looks at me. We are happy.”

This great happiness is purely a gift of grace. You cannot work yourself up into it; you simply receive it from God — it is a revelation. You can meditate upon the Word of God — that will help — but even then you need the Spirit of God to “quicken” it, to make it “come alive” in your heart. That is why Paul prayed for the Christians at Ephesus, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).

If you know Jesus, my prayer for you today is that God will give you wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit so that you may know Him more and more.