The Beauty of God’s Presence

Yael Eckstein  |  May 10, 2023

The sun rising over the Sea of Galilee as a single boat is in the water.
Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints
    for the courts of the LORD…
—Psalm 84:1-2

Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating topics to Christians and Jews is the Holy Temple—its significance to Jewish worship in biblical times and what Judaism teaches about the building of a Third Temple in the future. This is one of six devotions looking at different aspects of the Temple and its inherent lessons for us all.

What is the most beautiful building you have ever visited? I remember when I once visited Vienna and saw the great palaces that have now become museums. The majestic architecture made me feel a sense of awe. I imagined that someone visiting there during the height of the Habsburg empire must have seen those buildings and immediately felt that they were in the presence of royalty, which they were.

In a similar way, the old churches and cathedrals scattered throughout Europe were clearly built to inspire those who entered. The lofty ceilings and intricate artwork were designed to produce a sense of awe.

During its time, the Holy Temple that King Solomon built was the most beautiful building in the world. The curtains, decorative stonework, and vessels were all made with the finest craftsmanship from the most expensive materials. Just read the chapters in the Book of 1 Kings that describe its construction.

The Beauty of God’s Presence

We read in Psalms, “How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the LORD.” In these verses, the psalmist is not even writing about what happens in the Temple. He is simply describing his yearning to be there. Here, the Hebrew word for “lovely” is unusual. Yedidot does not imply external beauty. It literally means “beloved” or “cherished.”

This Scripture’s message is that the beauty of God’s house was beyond mere aesthetics. Although it was most certainly beautiful, it was more than that. The Temple was the place where the psalmist felt the beauty of God’s presence more than any other place. It was here he met with God and experienced Him through worship. It was the place where God promised to meet with His people and accept their praise and sacrifices.

Today we have no Temple, but we do have beauty all around us that attests to God’s presence. It may be in a house of worship, or it may be a beautiful spot in nature. It may be in a child’s smile, or in a stirring piece of music. Wherever we find it, we can use our experience of beauty as a way to feel closer to God.

Your Turn:

How do you experience the beauty of God’s presence? How can you cultivate a yearning for Him? Consider meeting with God in different places and settings to see what inspires you and where you feel closer to Him.

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