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
Psalm 27 was written by King David—a man after the heart of God—and in this Psalm, we get a glimpse into why David was described in this way. He says, “One thing I have desired.” He had one request for God. He sought one favor from the Lord. Out of all the things he could have asked for in life, he asked to be allowed to dwell in the manifest presence of God everyday that breath continued to enter his lungs.
God is not simply a thing to be studied or an object for us to examine, but He is a Person to be intimately known. The reason that so many of us grow weary of studying the Word or seeking God is not because He is boring, but because we have sought to know about God more than we have sought to know God himself.
As the Holy Spirit has been bringing this subject to my attention, He reminded me of another person in the Bible who had the opportunity to ask a request of God.
In 2 Chronicles 1, God appears to David’s son Solomon in a dream and gives him the opportunity to ask for anything he wants. In response to God’s invitation, Solomon asks for wisdom. He did not ask for fame or for riches, but instead he asked for wisdom to lead God’s people.
So, the question becomes, Why was David called a man after God's own heart and Solomon wasn't? And I think the answer to the question lies in this: when Solomon had the chance to ask for one thing, he asked for wisdom; an honorable request! Undoubtedly that desire was pleasing to God, but David's longing was different. When David made his one request, it was to know God himself.
David's one request was to behold and experience God all the days of his life. Is that our reality? If we had one thing to ask of God, would it be to know Him? Do we burn to know God, and not simply to know about Him, but to know Him as Abraham and Moses and David did… as a friend?
I believe there are many in the church today who back away from the prospect of experiencing God because it sounds hyper-religious or overly spiritual; or possibly they are afraid of seeking a feeling rather than God. In my case, I was afraid of seeking God’s presence in place of God. I was afraid of seeking the gift instead of the gift-giver. This was the wrong way of looking at it.
God’s presence is not something that He gives, but it is the very essence of who He is. We can’t make God’s presence into this ethereal, mystical force that we sometimes feel as we worship. We need to think of it like the presence of any other person. For example, I enjoy the presence of my friends. I enjoy being around them, I enjoy talking to them, and I enjoy who they are as individuals. It’s the same way with God, except on an infinitely more wonderful and powerful level.
Everyone likes to be around people that enjoy their presence. No one likes to hang around where they know they’re not genuinely appreciated. They may have conversations with people who accept them and welcome them, but they are friends with the people who enjoy their presence. It’s the same way with God. God loves to be with the people who enjoy his presence. And not people who simply accept Him or welcome Him because He is God, but people who enjoy who He is.
When we enjoy a person, we tend to tell other people about how great they are, how funny they are, or about whatever characteristic it is that we enjoy about them. When we do this, we are elevating that person in the eyes of the people we are talking to; we are esteeming them. We could even say we are glorifying that person in a way. Here’s my point: we glorify what we enjoy.
Enjoying God’s presence is not irreverent or overly emotional. By enjoying God’s presence we are honoring the beauty of who He is. God has deep emotions, emotions we are meant to experience. This does not by any means suggest that we should neglect studying who God is through the use of our intellect, but if you only sought to know about a person you would never actually get to know the person.
So let’s not settle for knowing about God, but let’s burn to know God himself! Daniel 11:32 says, “But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” It is the people who know God that will be world changers. There is something about encountering the presence of God that draws greatness out of us. We see it all throughout the Bible and throughout church history. When a person encounters God, it changes their entire perspective. The things of this world no longer look that appealing and the schemes of the Enemy no longer seem that impressive.
We become like what we behold, and when we continually seek to behold God by seeking His presence, it changes our nature. It changes what we hunger for. It changes what we think is possible.
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