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4

One thing I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

to live 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.

 


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4. One thing have I desired. Some consider this as a prophecy of the perpetuity of David’s kingdom, on which not only his own personal happiness depended, but also the happiness of his whole people; as if he had said, I am so well contented with this singular proof of God’s favor, that I can think on nothing else night and day. In my opinion, however, it appears a simpler interpretation to view the words as meaning, that although David was banished from his country, despoiled of his wife, bereft of his kinsfolk; and, in fine, dispossessed of his substance, yet he was not so desirous for the recovery of these, as he was grieved and afflicted for his banishment from God’s sanctuary, and the loss of his sacred privileges. Under the word one, there is an implied antithesis, in which David, disregarding all other interests, displays his intense affection for the service of God; so that it was bitterer to him to be an exile from the sanctuary, than to be denied access to his own house. That David desired only one thing, therefore, namely, to dwell in the house of the Lord, must be read in one sentence. For there is no probability that he means by this some secret wish which he suppressed, seeing he distinctly proclaims what it was that chiefly troubled him. He adds, too, steadiness of purpose, declaring that he will not cease to reiterate these prayers. Many may be seen spurring on with great impetuosity at first, whose ardor, in process of time, not only languishes, but is almost immediately extinguished. By declaring, therefore, that he would persevere in this wish during his whole life, he thereby distinguishes between himself and hypocrites.

We must, however, observe by what motive David was so powerfully stimulated. “Surely,” some may say, “he could have called on God beyond the precincts of the temple. Wherever he wandered as an exile, he carried with him the precious promise of God, so that he needed not to put so great a value upon the sight of the external edifice. He appears, by some gross imagination or other, to suppose that God could be enclosed by wood and stones.” But if we examine the words more carefully, it will be easy to see, that his object was altogether different from a mere sight of the noble building and its ornaments, however costly. He speaks, indeed, of the beauty of the temple, but he places that beauty not so much in the goodliness that was to be seen by the eye, as in its being the celestial pattern which was shown to Moses, as it is written in Exodus 25:40,

“And look that thou make them after this pattern which was showed thee in the mount.”

As the fashion of the temple was not framed according to the wisdom of man, but was an image of spiritual things, the prophet directed his eyes and all his affections to this object. Their madness is, therefore, truly detestable who wrest this place in favor of pictures and images, which, instead of deserving to be numbered among temple ornaments, are rather like dung and filth, defiling all the purity of holy things. We should now consider, whether the faithful are to be like-minded under the Christian or Gospel dispensation. 582582     “Sous le regne de Christ.” — Fr. I own, indeed, that we are in very different circumstances from the ancient fathers; but so far as God still preserves his people under a certain external order, and draws them to him by earthly instructions, temples have still their beauty, which deservedly ought to draw the affections and desires of the faithful to them. The Word, sacraments, public prayers, and other helps of the same kind, cannot be neglected, without a wicked contempt of God, who manifests himself to us in these ordinances, as in a mirror or image.




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