EXPERIENCE AND ENJOYMENT IN THE HOUSE
Now let us come to the most strategic point, the house and the city, and see how the saints experience and enjoy God there. Firstly, they love God’s house as the habitation where God’s glory dwells: “Lord, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwelleth” (Psa. 26:8). Secondly, they desire to dwell in the house of God to behold His beauty, inquire in His temple, be hidden and protected in it, offer sacrifices of joy, and sing praises to Him: “One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of shouts of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (Psa. 27:4-6). This is a prediction of the church life. We all must desire to dwell in the local churches to behold God’s beauty. We should offer sacrifices of shouts of joy (J. N. Darby’s translation). I believe that today the Brethren would never agree with our shoutings; but one of their leaders, J. N. Darby, rendered this translation of Psalm 27:6. They do have the translation, but they do not have the reality.
Some Christians condemn this kind of shouting and even dare to claim that it is of the devil. How can Christians be so bold and presumptuous to make such accusations? What then shall we do with Psalm 27:6? “I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of shouts of joy!” Do you think that shouting in the meetings is going too far? According to the religious concept shouting is considered an extreme practice because Christianity has been utilized by the enemy to silence Christians and produce dumb worshippers. But we have been released! Praise the Lord, we must shout for joy forever! Where? In the local churches, in the house of God.
I was taught long ago that we must desire one thing of the Lord, to dwell in the house of the Lord (Psa. 27:4). But in these last few years I have seen that verse 6 of Psalm 27 is a continuation of verse 4. Not only must we dwell in the house of the Lord, but we must also offer sacrifices of shouts of joy in the house. When I was young, I was told by some Christian teachers that it is not proper to shout in a church meeting place, but that alone on the mountains it may be permissible. But here the Psalmist says, “I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of shouts of joy.” The Psalmist would shout not only on the mountain, but in the tabernacle of God. You see, we do have scriptural ground for shouting in the church meetings.
It is rather difficult to find a verse in the Bible telling us that we must study the Word in the house of God, give a message in the house of God, or listen to a good speaker in the house of God. It is also difficult to find a verse in the Psalms telling us to wait in silence in the house of God. But we have Psalm 27 showing us that the house of God is not only a place to behold His beauty and inquire of Him, but also a place to shout. And this shouting is a kind of sacrifice.
The house is also the place to sing praises unto the Lord. We do need an abundance of singing in God’s house. We may need a few messages and a little listening, but how much more we need the singing of praises! All these things are in the house. I just love the house! I do not know how much you love the local churches. Sometimes my family says that I may not be so happy at home, but when I am in the church, I am a different person!
In the house of God the saints also lift up their hands toward the inmost place of God’s sanctuary: “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward the inmost place of thy sanctuary” (Psa. 28:2). Some say that lifting up one’s hands in the meeting is too extreme. But here not only one hand is lifted, but both hands are lifted. You may say that this is merely an Old Testament practice, but Paul says, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands” (1 Tim. 2:8). You see how wrong today’s Christianity is! They have dropped all these practices and condemn others for them. We, by the Lord’s mercy, must recover them. We must not care for their condemnation, but only for the Lord. When we say, “O Lord,” we are released; and when we say, “Amen, Hallelujah,” we are more released. We just care for the release of our spirit; we do not care who will criticize and condemn.
In God’s house the saints speak of God’s glory: “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory” (Psa. 29:9). Everyone speaks. This corresponds with 1 Corinthians 14:31, “Ye can all prophesy one by one.” What is it to prophesy? It is just to speak the glory of God. Everyone can speak the glory of God in His house, and everyone in the local churches must speak.
In God’s house the saints are under the shadow of God’s wings, enjoying His precious lovingkindness: “How precious is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psa. 36:7). In God’s house they are satisfied with the fatness of His house: “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house” (36:8). In the local churches we do have fatness. In God’s house the saints are drinking of the river of God’s pleasure: “Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures” (36:8). In the local churches we are really drinking of divine pleasures. In God’s house the saints partake of the fountain of life: “For with thee is the fountain of life” (36:9). And in God’s house the saints see light in God’s light: “In thy light shall we see light” (36:9). Here we have the river of pleasures and the fountain of life; and here, where life is, there is always light, for the life is the light of men. All this is in the local churches.
Two verses in Psalms 23 and 24 introduce the house of God. One verse speaks of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, and the other mentions the hill of the Lord, which is the site of the house. Then in Psalms 25 to 41 the central and predominant figure is the house. “I have loved the habitation of thy house” (Psa. 26:8). “One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psa. 27:4). “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house” (Psa. 36:8). Have you seen the improvement in the realization and enjoyment of the house of God? When we reach Psalm 36, we reach the peak concerning the house. The climax is here. In Psalms 22, 23, and 24, concerning Christ, we have come to the peak in the Psalms of Christ. Then through Christ and with Christ we enter into the house of God. His shepherding brings us into His house. Here in the house of God we have the sweet enjoyment of the riches of God. This is Book I in the Psalms. It begins with the law; then from the law it turns to Christ; and from Christ it hits the house.
I love this portion of the Psalms, with its emphasis mainly on the house of the Lord. And within this portion there is at least one verse indicating something more—the city (31:21). “Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvelous lovingkindness in a strong city.” The saints realize God’s marvelous lovingkindness in His strong city. Hence, in Book I, we have moved from the law to Christ, from Christ to the house, and from the house to the city. The law has been silenced and the saints have turned to Christ; Christ is then intensified with the house and fortified with the city, a strong city. In the Psalms we see not only Christ, but also the church as the house and city of God. Hallelujah!
In Book I of the Psalms there is only one verse concerning the city, and that just in a simple and brief way. When we come to Book II, we will see many things concerning the city. Then, when we reach Psalm 122 in the last part of the Psalms, the city reaches its consummation—“O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem!”
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)