Calvary Road Baptist Church

One Thing I Have Desired Of The Lord

Psalm 27.4

 Turn with me to the Old Testament book of the Psalms, specifically to the 27th Psalm. On your way to that beautiful song, I would remind you of some things about the Old Testament treatment of certain things in general, and about David in particular. However, before my own comments, I read what Charles Spurgeon wrote in his Treasury of David on this psalm:

 Nothing whatever can be drawn from the title as to the time when this Psalm was written, for the heading, “A Psalm of David,” is common to so many of the Psalms; but if one may judge from the matter of the song, the writer was pursued by enemies, Ps 27:2-3, was shut out from the house of the Lord, Ps 27:4, was just parting from father and mother, Ps 27:10, and was subject to slander, Ps 27:12; do not all these meet in the time when Doeg, the Edomite, spake against him to Saul? It is a song of cheerful hope, well fitted for those in trial who have learned to lean upon the Almighty arm. The Psalm may with profit be read in a threefold way, as the language of David, of the Church, and of the Lord Jesus.[1]


In the Hebrew Scriptures, we find both the nation of Israel and individuals who are experiencing physical danger crying out to God for relief from the perceived threat of danger and for deliverance to safety. Needless to say, records of these events are certainly intended by God to illustrate to Bible readers of our day the spiritual salvation that sinful souls so desperately need and find only in Jesus Christ. The psalm before us shows David in danger, or perhaps remembering when he was in danger. It also shows his confidence in God and his understanding of the means by which he would come to experience deliverance from danger and intimate communion with God. Our text wonderfully illustrates what must happen for a sinner to be saved from his sins.

My text is Psalm 27.4:

1      <<A Psalm of David.>> The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2      When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3      Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4      One thing have I desired 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 enquire in his temple.

We know that at the time David wrote this, and whenever the experiences described in this passage occurred; he was a child of God and walked in intimate communion with God. However, our text addresses David’s anticipation of a physical deliverance from danger, perhaps from Saul, or perhaps from the Philistines. Therefore, the parallel of the salvation from physical danger that he was either seeking or reflecting upon later in life to the salvation every sinner needs from the horrors of sin is very instructive. Here you are in church tonight, and you are not saved. You may even be frustrated to the point of wondering if you can be saved. Listen carefully and learn what needs to happen in your life.

Psalm 27.4 can be more easily grasped by considering each of the five phrases in it individually:


The verse begins, “One thing have I desired of the LORD.” May I make three comments about this initial phrase?

First, notice that David concentrates on one thing. It is always good to be focused. As well, this verse reminds me of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6.33, He declared to the multitudes, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” When anyone sets his sights on two things, he must necessarily concentrate less on one thing than the other, and can never fully concentrate on any one thing while another thing is in his field of view. James indicated as such by writing, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” James 1.8. As well, even after conversion this approach to life is crucial. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3.13-14:

13     Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14     I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

“Divided aims tend to distraction, weakness, [and] disappointment. The man of one book is eminent, the man of one pursuit is successful. Let all our affections be bound up in one affection, and that affection set upon heavenly things,” Charles Spurgeon.[2]

Next, notice that David is desirous. “One thing have I desired of the LORD.” Do not think by this word “desired” that David wants something silently, for that is not the case with this word. Its meaning is to actually ask for something, in some cases going so far as to be insistent.[3] Thus, we see that David is not nonchalant. He is far from noncommittal. Deliverance is what he wants, what he really and truly wants, and deliverance is what he is presently focused on. So should you be if you are not saved from your sins.

Third, notice that David’s singular desire can only be fulfilled by the LORD. “One thing have I desired of the LORD.” Notice the spelling in your English Bible, all caps. This means the very name of God is being translated here, the name by which God was known to His covenant people. Thus, David seeks deliverance and nothing else, wants it badly enough to actually ask for it, and realizes that it comes only from the God Who makes and keeps promises. Who is this LORD? This is the one whose glory appeared to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.[4] This is the one who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.[5] This is the one that cannot lie, Titus 1.2. This is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Toward Him David expresses the unity of his desire.


“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after”

To what does the word “that” refer in this second phrase? What David desires, what David seeks after, is the blessedness of dwelling in the house of the LORD forever. More on this momentarily. For now, we address the implications of David’s determination to seek after his desire.

It is one thing to desire something, to want it, however badly one may want it. It is another thing to actually ask after that which is desired, to plead for it. We learned from the first phrase of this verse that David did precisely that. He asked. What we learn in this second phrase is that he did not stop with wanting and with pleading. In other words, David did more than pray for the LORD’s deliverance.

He actually sought after it. My friends, this corresponds to something the Lord Jesus Christ urged upon His audience shortly before His crucifixion, those in Perea who had heard John the Baptist preach, who had heard the teams of men sent out by Jesus teach and preach, and who had on occasion heard Him preach.

To be sure, the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19.10. However, the sinner has responsibility, as well. Amos 5.6: “Seek the LORD, and ye shall live.” Isaiah 55.6: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” This is what blind Bartimaeus and his friend did in Jericho as Jesus passed by. Listen to what Bartimaeus said, in Luke 18.35-43:

 35     And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

36     And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

37     And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

38     And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

39     And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

40     And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,

41     Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

42     And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

43     And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

What a wonderful example Bartimaeus sets for every sinner who seeks the salvation that only Jesus provides.

Especially for those who had heard the gospel without responding to Christ, Jesus spoke these words in Luke 13.24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Thus, the one who wants deliverance, the one who seeks deliverance, is one who is responsible to seek after deliverance. David wrote, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after.”

“Holy desires must lead to resolute action.”[6] Your holiest and most noble desires are actually meaningless unless they are backed up by practical efforts. The Hebrew word that is here translated “seek” is a word that means to seek so as to secure possession.[7] In other words, though David knows that the deliverance he needs comes from the LORD, he is not content to pray only, to plead only. He knows that Jacob wrestled at Peniel for the salvation that is by grace through faith.[8]

My friends, this shows that striving to enter in at the strait gate is not a concept that is confined to the New Testament. It is a thoroughly biblical concept.


 “that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life”

In David’s day, of course, this literally referred to the Tabernacle that was at Shiloh and later at Ornan’s threshing floor, since the Temple was not constructed by Solomon until after David’s death. Figuratively, to dwell in the house of the LORD is to dwell in safety, is to dwell in security, is to be hidden under the shadow of His wings and to abide under the shadow of the Almighty.[9]

In our day, the application is to a spiritual household. Turn to First Peter 2.5-8, where our spiritual house is described for us:

 5      Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6      Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

7      Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8      And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

 Notice the phrase at the start of verse 7: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” That is why David longed for communion with God. That is why we yearn for communion with God. Our Savior, which is to say the One on whom we believe, is precious. Oh, to be with Him someday.


 What do you plan on doing in the sweet by and by, my friend? You realize, of course, that believers in Christ will all go to heaven, but that we will not remain in heaven forever. David thought a great deal about his future. Do you think about your future, where you will be forever, and what you will be doing? David wrote, “One thing have I desired 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.”

Consider what Jesus told His apostles in John 14.2-3:

 2      In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3      And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Are we not sure Jesus will not remain in heaven, but will return to this earth at the time of His second coming? We just read it in John 14.3. Jesus said he would receive us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. He will be here, not heaven, for a thousand years!

The truly important realization has to do with the Christian’s future not so much being where as with Whom. We speak so much about heaven and Hell, when the reality is much more related to with Christ and without Christ. David had it right when he wrote that, for him, it was all wrapped up in beholding the beauty of the LORD. Do you reflect on your Beloved? Do you ponder Him, meditate upon Him, dream of Him, contemplate Him, and look forward to seeing Him in all His glory some day? You should.


“One thing have I desired 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 enquire in his temple.”

I do not think curiosity is sinful. I think it is part of our original makeup to be inquisitive, to be curious, to want to learn and explore, and to hunger for an expansion of our grasp and our understanding. I think there is something wrong with people who have no desire to learn more of God and His Son.

David anticipated seeking and finding answers to his questions and his curiosities in God’s Temple. Surely, he projects farther into the future here than the Tabernacle of his day, which was little more than a small tent. This must be in anticipation, not only of the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem, but also a prophetic glimpse forward into eternity.

This speaks of both appetite and satisfaction, hungering to know and being taught, exploring the spiritual unknowns about the vastness of God’s rich depths and of the discoveries that await us. Remember, the Apostle Paul described God in terms of being “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Ephesians 3.20. Therefore, the discovery of God personally will prove to be an eternal exploration of the depths of His glories.

Notice, if you will, that the salvation that can be found only in Jesus Christ is described by David in Psalm 27.4 as “of the LORD” three times. David desired “of the LORD,” indicating that only God could give him what he needed. He mentions dwelling “in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,” showing that his need and sense of belonging was completely fulfilled by God. Then, he anticipated beholding “the beauty of the LORD,” the only One truly worthy of our enduring attention and affection.

Those of you who know Christ must join me in rehearsing to our lost friends and loved ones the utter emptiness and futility of life without Christ, and the danger that comes from being on your own and without God’s protection.

Imagine what is in store for some lost person who marries, with all the dangers associated with marriage to a worldling. What possesses someone who would marry an unconverted person? For one thing, you know the unsaved person’s judgment is deeply flawed. Then there is the big question. How are you to know what your spouse is up to when you are not around? What prevents a spouse from being taken captive by the devil and then enticed to wreck your marriage and destroy your children’s lives?

As well, consider this: What kind of children are raised by unsaved people? How do kids raised in such a home treat their parents? How do they know to honor their parents? How they will end up betraying their trust. How they will turn against them, but for God’s grace in their lives, the grace of a God they will not now bow to nor worship. David knew what it was like to be out in the cold at night, away from real security and protection from attack. Remember, he had been a shepherd. He was familiar with the attacks. He knew the danger. For such reasons, he valued the deliverance that only God could provide. He focused on it. He longed for it. He strived to obtain it. And he dreamed about enjoying the safety and security of intimate communion with God when deliverance would finally come.

All these things parallel the salvation that Jesus Christ provides, and you would do well to reflect upon the value, the importance, and the urgency of securing that salvation while there is yet time.

[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David, Volume I (Part 2), (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), page 1.

[2] Ibid., page 2.

[3] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 981.

[4] Acts 7.2

[5] Exodus 3.3-15

[6] Spurgeon, page 2.

[7] Brown, page 134.

[8] Genesis 32.24-30

[9] Psalm 17.8; 36.7; 57.1; 63.7; 91.1

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