What does a life of worship look like? David paints a picture for us in Psalm 27.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
David's greatest desire is to live constantly in God's presence. We are reminded by the Apostle Paul that we are God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:16.) God dwells in us. We can be always in God's presence if only we are willing to keep our minds focused on Him.
God's covenant name, YHWY, features prominently in this psalm. The name is used 13 times in 14 verses!
The psalm divides into two parts. The first half is directed to the people about God. In this section David declares his desire to live always in the presence of God because God is his sure Defender.
The central phrase is found at the very end of the first half as David declares, "I will sing and make melody to the Lord."
The second half alternates between prayers to God for help and declarations to the people of confident trust. The sudden changes of address from praying to God to speaking to the people highlight these short declarations of confident trust in God.
The psalm ends with an encouragement to have courage and wait for the goodness of God.
The first step in living a life of worship, though, is not found in a mystical "gazing on the beauty of the Lord." David begins the psalm by declaring his confidence in God as His protector.
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?
The first step in our life of worship is learning to trust God. Until we fully trust God it is impossible to live consistently in His presence. Our lack of faith causes us to look to other sources of help when life becomes difficult and we quickly find our minds are no longer dwelling in God's presence.
David is confident that "in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling." Are you trusting God or are you looking elsewhere for help?
The second half of the psalm gives us a glimpse into David's struggle to stay in God's presence. Although the psalm begins with a declaration of trust the second half begins with a petition for God to hear and answer.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
The struggles of life can make us doubt God's goodness and faithfulness. We need to keep reminding ourselves that God is worthy of our trust. Even though David spends much of the second half of this psalm pleading with God not to reject him, he still remembers that God is faithful.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
This short declaration of confident trust is highlighted by a sudden brief change of address from praying to God to speaking about God.
Still, David recognizes that he needs help to stay focused on God, so he asks God to guide him on his journey.
Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
In the end David returns to his confident trust. Once again he changes from a prayer to God to speaking about God.
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
In this psalm David calls us to a life of worship, but helps us to understand that this goal is not an easy one.
- Confident trust,
- Consistent honest prayer,
- God's guidance and instruction, and
It is this last step that is hardest for me. The reality is that even though we may seek to live in God's presence, we may not always experience life as if God is present. In other words, life can be hard even when we seek God. And so we find the final statement of this psalm is to "be strong and wait for the Lord." A life of worship requires a commitment over the long journey of life. Much of life will be spent in the "waiting for God" phase. God is there and we are seeking, but don't necessarily see what He is doing or recognize his presence.
This is the reality of a life of worship. If we are going to experience the "beauty of the Lord", then we will need to keep returning to Him and waiting until we "see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."