One thing have I asked of the Lord,that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lordall the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalms 27:4
No one in the bible has ever expressed such a desire. Even Moses didn’t go this far. David wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord all the days of his life. He uses a visual verb ‘gaze’. If taken literally, we run into some trouble. One, the Lord is invisible. Two, gazing at the divine is lethal. Three, even if he managed to gaze at the divine, his ‘object of beauty’ is otherworldly and unfamiliar to the human mind. It also raises some very important questions on the concept of beauty. Is beauty always subjective or is there an objective universal beauty that extends beyond cultural and generational tastes? Is beauty always perceived through our senses or can it originate in our thoughts? Does anything or anyone remain consistently beautiful in one’s mind all their life or is the idea of beauty merely an initial pleasant reaction which almost always wears off?
If there is such a thing called an objective, universal and ultimate beauty, it has to be embodied in this magnificent being that angels cannot stop singing about and human prophets get their tongues twisted trying to describe Him. But I highly doubt that David was referring to that kind of physical beauty in this verse. Beauty, as it is described in this verse, is encountered in the mind through repeated interaction with the divine and as one “gazes” more, God becomes more beautiful, even if this gazing lasts for a lifetime. Chances are, David did not sit down and analyze the concept of beauty prior to singing this song. He was in love and would rather gaze at the beauty of his lover for the rest of his life. Have you ever felt that way about God before?