“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” advises Stephen Covey in his impactful book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Those words often come to mind as I battle distractions, those things that cause me to lose sight of that which matters most. So, I often turn to a scripture passage in which the great King David nails down for us the one main thing: “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” (Psalm 27:4).
David writes these words, not on some peaceful retreat wanting alone time with God, but as he is surrounded by enemies threatening his very life. At a time that David’s foes might well compete for full attention, David wants time with God: “One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after.” Notice God’s part in David’s desire: “I asked of the LORD…” Then, notice David’s part: “that will I seek after.” David turns his prayer for that one thing into action; David will do his part. In order to get what he asks for, David will seek it: time with God.
When David talks about living in the house of the Lord for all of his life, he is not talking about taking a sleeping bag and camping out in the Tabernacle or Temple. David has responsibilities, duties to perform, and promises to keep. Rather, living in the house of the Lord expresses for David the continual awareness of God and communion with Him. So, we might often stop and ask if ourselves if we are making this “one thing” the one thing in our lives.
Follow David’s thought here. He wants to live in ongoing communion with God so that he might do two things: behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple. We do not often talk about the “beauty” of the Lord. The word translated here as “beauty” is translated elsewhere as favor, kindness, graciousness, and pleasantness. David makes his priority — or the one thing he does prior to anything else — to focus on the goodness and favor of God to His people. David finds it beautiful and energizing to focus on this “one thing”. So, David’s desire is to “inquire” of God, in other words, to learn ever more about Him.
David’s next verse adds to the importance of choosing the “one thing”: “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock” (Psalm 27: 5). Here David alludes to the honor-code of his culture, in which one could flee to a king or chieftain’s house or tent for sanctuary. The king or chieftain would have to take you in. You would be protected and provided for so that no enemy could harm you.
David has learned by experience that living in continual awareness and trust of God’s presence becomes the sure place of protection and provision amidst the trials and troubles of life. God longs for us to make this one thing, the one thing we ask for and seek. Even amidst pandemic, social unrest and uncertainty, the Lord will protect and provide for you and me.
A fellow traveler,