God didn’t choose to dwell there because it was a special place. It became a special place because the Almighty purposed that His presence should reside there. Possessing no intrinsic righteousness itself, it was transformed into a holy mount when He who is holy, holy, holy determined His glory would rest there. Having no splendor in and of itself, it was elevated in beauty when God purposed that, in that place, people would know Him there. The songwriter refers to that place as “the city of our God, . . . the city of the great King.” And, if I’m picking up on what the psalmist is laying down, we are to be city dwellers.
Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.
(Psalm 48:12-14 ESV)
Sometimes you just need to go back home in order to reestablish your equilibrium. And the believer’s home is the city of God.
I’m not thinking of a physical pilgrimage to a geographic location, but a frequent, intentional setting of the heart’s GPS towards the place where God has said He would be found. The place where God Himself has said through His prophet He would provide beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa. 61:3).
For it’s there that we are reminded our God is a eternal God and has promised to guide us forever. It’s there, within her palaces, where He makes Himself known again as our fortress (48:3). There, as we meditate within His holy presence, that we are reminded afresh of His steadfast love (48:9). There where, as He fills our thoughts with Himself, the things of earth fade and we as the people of God are divinely compelled to rejoice, to give thanks, and to lift up the name of our God who is always deserving of exaltation.
So where is that place? Where is the place where our God has purposed to be found? Where is that city that we might dwell there?
It’s found in His word. Every sojourn into holy writ an opportunity to know anew the nature of God and His unfailing love towards His children.
It’s found in His people. Every time we come together as the body of Christ we enter that mysterious dynamic of becoming “a holy temple in the Lord . . . a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).
It’s found in the secret place, our prayer closets. That quiet time when we sit before His holy throne of grace and again determine to be still and know that His is God.
We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of Your temple. As Your name, O God, so Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
(Psalm 48:9-10a ESV)
To never go home is to eventually burn out. To infrequently walk the streets where His glory dwells is to eventually be enveloped by the darkness of life’s circumstance and the world’s chaos. To not reorient ourselves on a daily basis to where our roots lie, is to risk wandering aimlessly where God has promised to lead us for His divine purposes.
O to be city dwellers. To be great thought thinkers. To know again for the first time His overflowing provision for those He has called to be His own. To again praise Him without reservation for who He is and what He has done.
Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!
All because of grace. All for His glory.