Billy Crystal and the Psalms


July 9, 2024
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Do you remember the movie ‘City Slickers’? It’s still one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Billy Crystal and a couple of his buddies go out to a ranch for a few days to learn how to rope cows and bring a herd of cattle in. Their trail boss, a really crusty guy named Curly played by Jack Palace movie trivia time…Jack Palance was not the first choice for the role. They wanted Charles Bronson but he wouldn’t do it because he died halfway through the movie). At one point in the movie, Curly and Mitch (the guy played by Billy Crystal) are out riding and Curly tells Mitch what the secret of life is. One thing, as he sticks a finger in the air. Just one thing. Of course Mitch wants to know what that one thing is and Curly replies, “That’s for you to figure out.”
For us as Christians, figuring out that one thing should not be too difficult. Our one thing is to worship God. And it comes from Psalm 27:4, which says, “One thing I have desired of The Lord/That I will 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.”
It is one wish, or one desire that is broken into three parts. When it comes to Hebrew grammar, the main thought is dwelling in the house of The Lord. The other two parts…beholding His beauty and inquiring of Him are what we would do while in the house of The Lord.
This does not refer to just going to church on Sunday (being in the house of The Lord) but rather refers to seeking out His presence in our lives. This is what David (who wrote this Psalm) is desiring…the presence of The Lord. He wants to be surrounded by the presence and the beauty of The Lord at all times. This was the purpose that dominated his life and his prayer. He wants to be where The Lord is and to see Him as He is.
Notice what David does not say. He does not say that his one thing is to be safe from his enemies. His one thing is not to be financially secure and healthy. His one thing is not to have good relationships. His one thing is God Himself and he will not be satisfied with anything less than that. These other things that we seek in life? They are not an end in themselves but rather serve to lead us to The Lord.
A good example of this is found in Isaiah 38. There Hezekiah the king (and he was a good one) is sick and near death. He knows this is his state and he cries out to the Lord. He is heard by The Lord who grants him another fifteen years of life. Does Hezekiah jump up and down and celebrate because he has another fifteen years of life? No…he is blessed by The Lord with this additional period of life so that he can go worshipping The Lord and seeking Him. Isaiah 38:20 says (after Hezekiah has been granted life), “The Lord was ready to save me/Therefore we will sing songs with stringed instruments/All the days of our lives in the House of The Lord.”
He not only seeks to be constantly in The Lord’s presence but also to seek out His beauty while there. The word ‘seek’ means to ‘come morning by morning’. He wants to show up with The Lord every day. Another way to put it is that he wants to give The Lord the beginning of each day.
The great 19th century pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “It has been said by someone (it was a poet named Alexander Pope) that ‘the proper study of mankind is man’. I will not oppose the idea but I believe it was equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God. The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead (another way of referring to the Trinity) The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the Name, the nature, the Person, the work,the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father”. By the way, Spurgeon said that when he was only twenty years old. When I was twenty I was still trying to figure out how to get a date.
So what is your one thing? What drives you above all? What is your focus in life from which all else comes? And if it is not The Lord, what is there in His place which must be removed?

July 9, 2024
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