Psalm 27:4

Sermon preached on February 17, 2002 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In 1953
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. Shortly after his heroic conquest, he and his party went to the British Isles for a triumphant tour. In his book, View from the Summit, he writes of one stop on the tour. (p. 27)

"Another weekend the expedition was invited to a combined gathering in North Wales with senior members of the Alpine Club. We were based on the very pleasant Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel and I arrived a little late only to discover that everyone else had headed off up Snowdon. I had no boots or mountaineering equipment, but set off up the mountain after them in a pair of sand shoes and casual clothing. I was about halfway up and moving very easily when a properly booted middle-aged gentleman, sporting an Alpine Club badge, appeared out of the midst. He stopped abruptly, looked aghast at my lack of equipment, and proceeded to give me a thorough dressing down. It as inexperienced and ill-equipped people such as myself, he told me, who gave the mountains a bad name. Fuming, he disappeared down the hill and out of sight.

After a pleasant climb I returned to the Pen-y-Gwryd and entered the warm and comfortable bar where I was greeted by my expedition companions and introduced to our Alpine Club hosts. Soon I was shaking the rather limp hand of the gentleman who had berated me on the mountainside and I have rarely received a more distraught welcome."

When the man met Hillary on the mountainside, he had no idea who he was or what he had done. His lack of knowledge led him to coming away with a thorough misunderstanding of Hillary. He had bumped into him, but had little appreciation of who he was or what he had done.

Many people are like that today when it comes to God. They don't have a good idea of Who He is and what He has done. They don't see the beauty, the worthiness of God. They don't care for Him, they don't think about Him, they go on with their lives as if He didn't exist.

It is sin that has done that to us. It has separated us from God and blinded us to His attractiveness. Thus this morning I want to look at what David tells us about God so that we can understand a little more clearly what He is like. David writes,

"One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
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 seek him in his temple."

The main thing I want you to see here is that

God is delightful. He is beautiful.

David seeks to gaze upon the 'beauty' of the Lord. The Hebrew word that is used here means 'to be beautiful' or 'to be pleasant', 'gratifying'. Franz Delitzsch tells us that it refers to, (Commentary, p. 435)

"the gracious pleasantness of Jahve…”

It has connotations of being 'delightful, lovely, pleasant, sweet.

The God that we serve is
perfect. Hermann Bavinck puts it this way: (The Doctrine of God, p. 246)

"God is the sum-total of all excellencies, the One than whom no greater, higher, better can exist either in thought or in reality."

Now we know that God is a Spirit and that as such He is invisible. The Bible tells us that He lives in 'unapproachable light'. (1Timothy 6:16) Yet, having said that, we must remember that God is perfect. As such there is a beauty, an attractiveness about Him. Even though He dwells is unapproachable light, He has revealed Himself to us. He is the Lord of Glory. This term, (Bavinck, 249)

"indicates the splendor and brilliancy that is inseparably connected with all of God's virtues and with his self-revelation in nature and grace, the luster of his manifestations to creatures."

God is glorious. He is beautiful.

There are
many aspects of this.

On the one hand we should see that

God's blessedness contributes to His beauty.

One of God's attributes is that of 'blessedness'. In 1 Timothy 6:15 Paul refers to God as,

"the blessed and only Ruler,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,"

God's blessedness means that, (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 218)

"God is perfectly happy, that He has fullness of joy in Himself."

Why does God have joy in Himself? Why is He perfectly happy? Why is He blessed? It's because God is the sum of everything that is desirable or excellent. We serve a personal God in whom there is no defect or blemish. Father, Son and Holy Spirit—who is like them? Before the creation of the world they were perfectly blessed, perfectly happy, perfectly full of joy. God is and always has been perfectly blessed. As such He is beautiful.

On the other hand we should remember that

all of God's attributes contribute to His beauty.

God is perfect in every way. His attributes are perfect. God is beautiful because of His love, mercy and compassion. He is beautiful because of His holiness. He is beautiful because of His hatred of sin. Can you imagine how horrible it would be for a judge to reward and encourage wickedness and evil? God is beautiful because of His love of truth. His is beautiful because He acts righteously. He is beautiful because of His power. His beauty is displayed in His wisdom. Remember what the Queen of Sheba said about Solomon? (1 Kings 10:7-8)

"in wisdom and wealth
you have far exceeded the report I heard.
How happy your men must be!
How happy your officials,
who continually stand before you
and hear your wisdom!"

The Queen of Sheba knew that the men of Solomon's court were more blessed than any in the world. They were blessed because they were able to be in Solomon's presence and experience His wisdom. How much more are those blessed who dwell in God's presence and see His attributes displayed in all that He does. Think of the angels who surround the throne of God, how they delight in God, in His perfections. William Plummer speaks of the pleasures that result from God's presence. He says that,

"they are such as forever ravish the pure spirits around the throne."

Another says,

"The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."

(Quoted from Viktor Frankl, in Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God, p. 111)

Now, I could continue and mention every one of God's attributes and show how they contribute to His beauty. But we don't have time. Yet they all do. There is no one like our God.

We also see God's beauty in His perfect character.

Over the past few months as I've been reading about God's attributes, I've come across articles where theologians have struggled with how God's attributes exist in Him. Some have suggested that holiness is His most essential attribute. Others have suggested that it is love. Others say that there is no hierarchy like that and we should not think in such terms.

The only thing I want to say on the matter is that
God is perfect in every way and that His attributes are all in perfect harmony with one another. The way they exist in God is beautiful. Andrew Gray writes, (Gospel Contrasts and Parallels)

"Another thing, which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of his various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colors of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint; there is a beauty in it which would not exist if the several hues were assumed in succession—a beauty which is the result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner do the several perfections, which co-exist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty."

The fact that God is the source of all good also contributes to His beauty.

Where does our joy come from? Where does our happiness come from? Where do all the good things that we enjoy come from? They come from God. James 1:17 reads,

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father
of the heavenly lights,"

God is the source of all good. As such He is beautiful. There is no one like Him. David knew these things and he wanted to be in God's presence to enjoy Him.

What David says in our text reminds me of
Peter's reaction on the Mount of Transfiguration. You know the story. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up to a mountain. In Luke 9:28 we read about Jesus.

"As he was praying,
the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became
as bright as a flash of lightning.
Two men, Moses and Elijah,
appeared in glorious splendor,
talking with Jesus.
They spoke about his departure,
which he was about to bring
to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions were very sleepy,
but when they became fully awake,
they saw his glory
and the two men standing with him."

Peter, James and John saw some of the glory of God. In a very special sense they experienced the presence of God. What was it like. We read, "As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him,"

it is good for us to be here."

What they experienced was magnificent. These three disciples had a brief glance into the glory of the consummated kingdom. They saw some of the glory of Jesus. Their reaction was, "It is good for us to be here." The glory of Jesus was so wonderful to contemplate that Peter wanted it to continue and he suggested that he and the others make three shelters so that the experience would not end. The experience that they had was extremely satisfying. They experienced a little bit of the truth that we read about in Psalm 16:11,

"in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand
there are pleasures for evermore."

When we will be in God's presence we will be filled with incredible joy. It will be His presence that causes that joy. He is the source of all good, all delight, all contentment. When we will be with Him in heaven we will be filled with delight because His presence will be extremely satisfying. His presence is delightful because He is so wonderful, so beautiful. Hermann Bavinck writes, (p. 248)

"God is absolute perfection, the sum-total of all virtues, the highest essence, the supreme of goodness and truth…”

Now what does all this mean for us?

First of all, we should understand from this is that

God is our highest good.

It doesn't matter who you are here this morning, what you should realize is that if you want joy, if you want to be content, if you want to be satisfied in your life—there's only one way to achieve this—you must draw near to God. John Calvin has very perceptively written, (Institutes, 1:5:1)

"the perfection of blessedness consists in the knowledge of God…”

God is the source of all God. In His presence is fullness of joy.

One of the great lies of Satan, that has been totally accepted by the world, is that there is good apart from God, apart from His will.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God is the source of all good, all joy, all happiness, all satisfaction. There is no good, no joy, no contentment apart from Him.

Yet Satan will try to blind you to that. You'll remember that
Satan told Eve that something was desirable apart from God. He came to Eve and impugned God's goodness. He said, (Genesis 3:1)

"Did God really say,
'You must not eat
from any tree in the garden'?"

When Eve responded, she told Satan that God had only forbidden them to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden and that they were not allowed to touch it or eat it, lest they die. Then Satan said,

"You will not surely die,
For God knows that when you eat of it
your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God,
knowing good and evil."

He told her that they wouldn't die, that there was good apart from God and His will. She listened to him. What a disaster. We read,

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree
was good for food and pleasing to the eye,
and also desirable for gaining wisdom,
she took some and ate it.
She also gave some to her husband,
who was with her,
and he ate it."

I can't begin to tell you the horror and misery that came as a result of that decision. All the bad things you have ever experienced or heard or seen, can be traced back to that event. It all started when Eve believed what Satan said. Rather than using God's Word as the guardian and protector of her heart and all her senses (Calvin), she believed Satan. The result was most horrific.

God is beautiful. He Himself is the source of all good, all joy, all satisfaction.

David knew this. He desired to 'delight himself by gazing' at God. (Franz Delitzsch, Commentary, p. 435) He knew that all good came from God. It was the same with Asaph in Psalm 73. He said,

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish...
But as for me,
it is good to be near God."

Asaph knew that being near God was the place to be.

You Christians have great challenge before you. You have to show the world that being close to God is the only place to be.

The world doesn't see this. Satan has them fooled. They think that if they go to Jesus that their life is over. They think that that will be the end of their joy, their happiness, their contentment. They don't see any reason to draw nigh to God. William Plummer has written, (Commentary, p. 360)

"He, who cares not to behold the beauty of the Lord, is a poor blinded sinner."

That's the way the world is today. We need to show them the beauty of God.

Too often we present the Christian life as a series of, 'don'ts' and thus present it in an unattractive light.

But Christianity should never be presented that way. Christianity is about having life, having it to the full. Remember what Jesus said in
John 10:10?

"I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full."

In Jesus we have life. In Him we have true life, life unlike anything that the world has to offer. Our life is genuine and real. Truly, in God's presence is fulness of joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said to His disciples,

"These things have I spoken unto you,
that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full."

Christians, show the world the life of God. Make the gospel attractive by how you live. Show the world that if someone has Christ, they have something that is worth more than owning the whole world.

Secondly, we have to show them that this

it is only through Jesus that we can enjoy God's presence.

Without Jesus and the forgiveness of sins that we have through Him, the presence of God is extremely threatening. It's not only threatening, it's horrific. We saw this a few weeks ago when we looked at Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw God on His throne and he felt like his very being was being pulled apart. That's because sinners cannot dwell in the presence of a holy God. A seraph had to take a coal from under the altar and place in on Isaiah's lips. When he did so he said,

"See, this has touched your lips;
your guilt is taken away
and your sin atoned for."

Without Christ we are lost. We are sinners and without Christ God's wrath will rest on us. For us to dwell in God's presence we need to have our sins washed away. That's what we have in Christ. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13)

If you're not in Christ, you need Him now. If you die without Jesus you will stand before the great throne and you will be undone. It will not be pleasurable for you to stand in God's presence. Your reaction will be like those kings and rulers and slaves we read about in
Revelation 6:16f. The tried to hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.

"They called to the mountains and the rocks,
'Fall on us and hide us
from the face of him who sits on the throne
and from the wrath of the Lamb!
For the great day of their wrath has come,
and who can stand?'"

They will be judged and told to depart from God's gracious presence. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30) Don't let that happen to you. Ask Jesus into your heart now.

Lastly, for Christians, I want you to see that for those in Christ, on the last day,

God's beauty will transform you.

God's beauty is so wonderful that it transforms. We are going to be glorified by seeing God. In 1 John 3:2, we read,

"Dear friends,
now we are children of God,
and what we will be
has not yet been made known.
But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is."

We are going to see Jesus and that vision will transform us and make us like Him. Our lowly bodies will be made like unto His glorious body. (Philippians 3:21) In Revelation 22:3f,

"No longer will there be any curse.
The throne of God and of the Lamb
will be in the city,
and his servants will serve him.
They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads.
There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever."

We read more about it in Revelation 21:1f.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
for the first heaven and the first earth
had passed away,
and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the Holy City,
the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride
beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
'Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.'
He who was seated on the throne said,
'I am making everything new! '
Then he said,
'Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.