“O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells,” Psalm 26:8. Going to the house of the Lord is never a burden in the book of Psalms, it is a joy.
Psalm 27:4 says, “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 behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
This verse mentions what I believe is an important element of our faith; beauty. Do you go to the house of the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord? I happen to believe that beauty is something we don’t emphasize enough in the Christian church. God doesn’t want us to obey him and follow his way just because our lives will be better. He wants us to obey him and follow his ways so that our lives will be beautiful.
This is in line with the ways things were from the very beginning. As God made this world it says that he saw what he made, and that it was good. And the end of the creation week he looks at all that he had made and, “Behold, it was very good.” God simply was enthralled with the beauty of his creation.
And what better place to behold the beauty of the Lord than the house of the Lord? Of course our sins are so ugly that it doesn’t take much to look good next to us. But in the divine service God bestows his loving mercy on us sinners for the sake of Christ our Savior and it’s a beautiful thing.
On the Old Testament there was always a designated place for worship, where the people could go to meet the Lord. Seven times in the twelfth chapter of Deuteronomy Moses tells the people of Israel to worship at, “the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go.” Worshiping anywhere other than the place God designated was definitely frowned on.
Then Jesus came. The place of God’s presence shifted from being a place to being a person. Quite simply, without Jesus there is no access to the Father, no experience of the presence of God. Jesus calls his body the temple of the Lord in John 2:
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”
In this episode there is even a quote from the Psalter. The words, “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” comes from Psalm 69:9. And in Matthew 18:20 Jesus states, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
In conclusion, we have the following verses:
Psalm 5:7 “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”
Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”