What Does It Mean to “Dwell in the House of the Lord”?

What Does It Mean to “Dwell in the House of the Lord”?

Psalm 27 is one of many in the book of Psalms that was written by David. We do not know if this was written before David was king or during his reign, and he does not give specific details about the challenge he seems to be facing when he wrote the psalm. Regardless, it is in this psalm that we find mention of dwelling in the house of the Lord.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

Perhaps what David wrote about being in the presence of the Lord all his days is a concept that draws you in and reminds you how great it is to know the Lord and experience His great love. In David’s time, the presence of the Lord was found in the tabernacle. When David wrote that he wanted to dwell in the house or temple of the Lord, he meant that he wanted to dwell or abide in God’s presence.

What Does It Mean to “Dwell in the House of the Lord”?

For David, to be in God’s presence meant to be away from danger, war, unrest, wicked people, and violence. Being in God’s presence was exactly what he needed to be safe from his enemies and at rest. David reflected in this psalm how vastly different the experience of being in God’s presence is in comparison to the evil he faced. David sought God’s peace, shelter, and joy.

“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore, I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” (Psalm 27:5-6).

David boldly declared his deep trust and faith in God when he wrote this psalm. It is one that reminds believers that in God alone is found hope, safety, and peace. Like David, we do not have to be afraid of our enemies or come up with our own solutions. When life gets hard, we can dwell in the presence of the Lord to find real help and strength.

What Is the Context of This Verse?

The 27th Psalm is attributed to David, King of Israel. David wrote many of the psalms and in them he wrote about his faith, worries, fears, doubts, and hope in the Lord. It appears that David was facing great challenges or enemies when this psalm was written.

“Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence” (Psalm 27:12).

David acknowledged the reality of his situation before the Lord and how desperate it had become. Yet David displayed in this psalm a deep trust in the Lord. He began the psalm by stating that his faith in God meant that he did not have to be afraid because he was confident in the Lord’s saving strength.

David knew that if he could simply dwell in the presence of the Lord, he would be free from all his fears and enemies. David’s faith inspires all believers today to put their trust in God, no matter the situation they are facing or how bad the challenges have gotten. God will give His children help, rest, and peace even in the storms of life (see John 16:33).

Where Is the House of the Lord?

Today, many use the term “house or temple of the Lord” to refer to a church building, or a gathering of God’s people. This is certainly one reasonable way to use the phrase “house of the Lord.” When David wrote this psalm, the house of the Lord was the tabernacle, or tent, that housed the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was the representation of God’s presence. David surely knew the power of God’s presence and both the holiness and refuge this temple offered.

In the New Testament, after Jesus ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came, a new understanding was given to the concept of a temple. God’s presence would no longer only dwell in a building, but in all believers. The Apostle Paul wrote about this to the church in Corinth.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, and Christ dwells within them (see Ephesians 3:17). What an honor and a mystery that God is literally within and always with His beloved followers.

How Can We Dwell in the House of the Lord, and Gaze upon His Beauty?

All believers can dwell in the presence of the Lord. We can have eyes to see His beauty, holiness, and faithfulness when we stop focusing on our problems and focus on the goodness of God – just as David did in this psalm. David brought his troubles to the Lord and let them go so that he could find help and rest in God’s presence.

We experience God’s presence through prayer and worship, through quiet time reflecting on the majesty of who God is, reading Scriptures, and by laying our troubles at His feet. When we stop letting our troubles or busy lives keep us from enjoying God’s presence, it becomes easier to see His goodness in our lives and the world around us.

What Would This Mean for Our Everyday Lives if This Was Our Focus?

Psalm 27 highlights how the presence of God corrects hearts and leads believers in the way of righteousness. David knew how vital it was to keep his faith in God despite the ups and downs he went through.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14).

What this means for our lives is when we experience God’s presence, we will see His goodness, we will have courage and be strengthened by God, and have the ability to be patient for the Lord to move. When we face troubles, we often want to fix them with our own logic, solve the problem quickly, and make decisions out of fear. As David did, when we face the unexpected battles or hardships, we can seek the presence of God and as a result be filled with trust and courage. God surely will help His children and be a shelter to those who seek Him.

When David wrote about dwelling in the house of the Lord, he meant that he wanted to abide in the presence of God. Believers today can take David’s wisdom to heart. We, too, should seek the presence of the Lord each day. We can trust in God’s help, strength, and shelter. We have the Spirit of the Lord and Christ dwelling within us. Unlike David who lived in a time when the presence of the Lord was confined to a temple, believers today can experience the presence of the Lord anywhere.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Natali_Mis

Pamela Palmer 1200x1200Pamela Palmer is a writer, speaker, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces devotionals and faith resources to inspire keeping faith at the center of life. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of others. She lives and thrives on Jesus, coffee, and music. She is the author of Living a Deeper Faith: Nurture Your Relationship with God and Live a Faith-Fueled Life. Pamela married the perfect man for her and they have two beautiful kiddos. She has been published on herviewfromhome.com, and you can follow her at upheldlife.com or on Facebook.com/upheldlife.