A meditation given by Fr. Justin Clemente at Midday Prayer, May 11, 2022.
One thing I seek from God: God (v. 4)
David recognizes that the best thing God can give him is God himself. And David is convinced he is right. Petition, asking of God, is an essential part of growth in prayer, but the sheer gift of prayer is unbelievably close fellowship with God.
Do you need to hear that today? Has your inner life of prayer become so stifled, muted, or so overrun with requests, that you have forgotten the Lord himself?
We should remember that, as Christians, the fellowship we’re given in Christ IS precisely what David longed to know. Jesus said in John 4 that “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23) What this says is that everything the Old Testament saints held in symbols and shadows would now be known in substance: Jesus himself!
If your prayer life suffers, might I suggest this: recover the doctrine of the Trinity. Recover how glorious it is that you have given fellowship with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. God the Trinity surrounds and upholds your faith and fellowship.
To gaze: sustained fellowship (v. 5a)
The ESV translates the first part of verse 5 “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” Tim Keller writes here, “’Gazing’ is not a one-time glimpse but a steady, sustained focus. It is not petitionary prayer but praising, admiring, and enjoying God just for who he is.” (The Songs of Jesus, pg. 49)
We are gifted our reconciled, healed relationship with God, perfectly mediated through Jesus Christ. But, it takes time and effort to get to know God. To “know, even as we are known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). In fact, as a Christian, this is now the sum total of your life – learning to know God. In 2 Peter 3:18, the Apostle Peter says that as we wait for Christ’s coming, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That is the steady gaze upon God pictured in Psalm 27.
In Christ, you have been full access to, not just the earthly temple, but the heavenly throne of God. What will you do with it? Learn to gaze, in Jesus Christ, upon the goodness of God.
The Physical, tangible, and corporate nature of worship (v. 5b)
David longs for the physical, the tangible, and the corporate. He longs for the tabernacle of the Lord! He longs to actually look at something material. Although now the access the temple provided has been superseded and fulfilled in Christ, this is still true.
The Presbyterian pastor James Boice writes this: “There is something to be experienced of God in church that it is not quite so easy to experience elsewhere. Otherwise, why have churches? If it is only instruction we need, we can gat that as well by an audio tape or a book. If it is only fellowship, we can find that equally well, perhaps better, in a small home gathering. There is something to be said for the sheer physical singing of the hymns, the sitting in the pews, the actual looking to the pulpit and gazing on the pulpit Bible as it is expounded, the tasting of the sacrament, and the very atmosphere of the place set apart for the worship of God that is spiritually beneficial. Isn’t that true? Haven’t you found a sense of God’s presence simply by being in God’s house? I do not mean to deny that God can (and should) be worshipped elsewhere. But I am suggesting that the actual physical worship of God in the company of other believers can be almost sacramental.” (Psalms – Volume 1, pg. 241)
We, and David, say yes and amen!