My family has a tradition of putting together wish lists for gift-giving occasions. Whether it’s for birthdays or for Christmas, the idea is that if you have an idea of what people want, you are more likely to get them something they will actually use. The problem is that this has become more difficult the older we get. Perhaps part of the reason is because others have been so generous at providing us things along the way that there are very few things that we desire. Conversely, I think part of it is a recognition that comes with maturity that having stuff isn’t as important as we once thought it was. The things we should truly desire can’t be picked up at the local shopping mall.
David understood this. He had his “wish list” for God boiled down to one thing. As he wrote in Psalm 27:4:
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
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 inquire in his temple.
Chief and foremost in David’s mind was his pursuit of God. While there may have been other requests that he made along the way, as we can read in his other psalms, none of them compared in importance to this one thing. His desire was for God alone – to dwell with Him in eternity. And regardless of the outcomes of his other petitions, this would be his focus and quest.
The beautiful thing about David’s “one thing” is that the thing he asked for was also the thing that he could have confidence he would be granted. As he writes in the following verses:
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 lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. (Psalm 27:5-6, 10)
You’ll notice that David used the future tense to describe what God would do. David could do this because what he was asking for was in keeping with the promises that God had already made. Perhaps one of the reasons he is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) is because his desires aligned with what God willed to do. David didn’t want the things of this world; he wanted what God had already offered him. He pursued God, and knew that whatever happened temporally, God would deliver him eternally. With his heart’s desire focused on that, he did not need to worry about asking for anything else.
And God’s children can continue to have this same confidence, knowing that regardless of what happens in the meantime, God has promised us an eternity with Him. When being with Him becomes our heart’s desire, than anything else pales in comparison, and we like David, can say we ask for just this “one thing.”