This canticle of King David presents us with a sufficiently vivid vignette of his historical lived experience with Yahweh in life’s problematic existence during his reign; specifically related to ‘the day of trouble’ (Ps 27:5; Ps 27:1-3). In the midst of abject turmoil encircling and threatening him, David’s singular request was to be in the Jerusalem tented temple meditating on the beauty of his God (Ps 27:4), a quest towards seeking solutions to his troubles! If the spiritual reality of embracing the presence of God did not provide a superior outcome to his ongoing political intrigues and military campaigns, it would have been just pure escapism. However, David claimed that his seclusion elicited a sense of Divine protection and confidence of victory over his enemies, as he sought the will of God (Ps 27:4-6). He is not saying that everything will be fine and nothing will go wrong, but despite them, he trusted in God for safety amidst trouble (Ps 27:2-3; Ps 27:5; c.f., Rom 8:28). What does ‘the beauty of God’ have to do with trusting Him?
In the Biblical milieu, seeking God’s face (Ps 27:8; c.f., Gen 4:14) is indicative of relating personally to our Creator, a reality that transcends a mere liaison; to perceive His overwhelming holiness and appreciating and enjoying His aesthetic beauty. King David did not elaborate what that ‘beauty’ was, but his description implies a conscious sensing of the divine character beyond his ability to describe! To perceive someone’s human beauty, both internally and externally, is to know that person’s warts and all, accepting who they are, and still finding it pleasurable to be in their company. Hence, David found himself in a constant concentrated gaze on God, admiring His beauty expressed in His attributes, His glory and sovereignty, and it resulted in his heart being apparently overpowered by His Presence, calming his restlessness in the face of his enemies (c.f. Ps 16:11; Ps 65:4). In the days of Moses, the glory of Yahweh was depicted as the shekinah, evident to everyone. However, when it came to the New Testament days, Scripture informs us that although Jesus possessed His own heavenly glory, His façade was marred on earth, and to look on Him was only to see an ordinary man (Isa 52:14; Isa 53:2-3; Phil 5-8). In order to perceive beyond Jesus’ disfiguration, we need to look at His heart and the sacrifice He made for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor 5:21). To catch a glimpse of Him is to be profoundly caught by the awesomeness of His excellent and incomparable personal attributes. David was enjoying God for Who He is! It is remarkably different from ‘knowing’ God as One Who is useful to us, from Whom we would extract some benefit when a need arises.
When David sought to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life,” it was rhetorically hyperbolic. No doubt, the temple was his favourite abode for seeking the face of God, to secure that peace that passes understanding and to realise that He is in control, as he meditated in adoration (Ps 27:11-14; c.f., 1Peter 2:9-10), but was David speaking about a vision? It is likely he was meditating on the Scriptures on Yahweh’s historical faithfulness towards Israel as a nation, and allowing the text to examine his life and to guide him in decisions (Ps 27:4; Ps 27:7-9; Ps 27:11-14). It was a heart-to-heart communication in the solitude of temple worship in God’s presence. A true believer in Christ is attracted to and enraptured with the Scriptural beauty of Yahweh, as seen through the eyes of faith.