“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 gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
God is beautiful, and it should be our desire to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” What is beauty? It is difficult to define. We know beauty when we see it. Beauty is powerful. It draws people in. When we speak to people about God and the Christian faith, then we should point them to the beauty of it all. Some beauty is easy to recognize. I have never met a person who has denied the beauty of a sunset. Its beauty is obvious to everyone who sees it. However, there are others forms of beauty that are not as apparent. They demand training and focus. Not everyone appreciates art or poetry, but this does not mean it lacks beauty. It simply means that some people are not able to recognize the beauty of a piece of art or a poem because they have not devoted themselves to studying the form.
The beauty of God is both obvious and deep. This should not be surprising. There are elements of the Bible that are easy to understand, and there are parts of the Bible that demand years of study and reflection. The beauty of God’s creation should be apparent to all (Rom. 1:19-20), but the beauty of the poetry of the Psalms demands some training and focus. If we are going to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”, then we must prepare ourselves to recognize and appreciate all of God’s beauty. How do we do this?
Focus – God’s beauty demands our focus whether it is obvious or not. The word “gaze” in Psalm 27:4 is a word that means we set aside time to concentrate on God’s beauty. We are to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Many people will completely miss the beauty of God because they fail to focus. They are so busy that they do not take the time to stop and appreciate beauty. Technology is wonderful. It makes our life easier in many ways, but it can also distract us from the things that truly matter. How many times have you seen a child vying for their parent’s attention while the parent is staring at a phone? If our desire is to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”, then we must create space in our lives to focus on God’s beauty.
Learning – There are some things we must learn to appreciate. There is a tendency in our culture to want things easy and simple. We like teachers and politicians who tell funny stories that make a simple point everyone can understand. Some even believe this is the way Jesus taught. Yes, Jesus told stories but often people were confused by them. They were not as simple as some people like to believe. The writer of Hebrews chides the church for keeping it simple and encourages them to go deeper (Heb. 5:12-6:2). There are aspects of God’s beauty that demand learning. We are not born with the ability to appreciate Hebrew poetry the first time we read it. We must spend some time looking at it and studying it. The beauty is there, but it is going to take some work on our part to recognize it.
Beauty is mysterious. It is difficult for us to put it into words, but beauty is something we never grow tired of. We never complain about too much beauty. It is something that captivates us. When we see beauty, we don’t want to take our eyes off of it. This is why we need to prepare ourselves “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.”