Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6, ESV).
The most beloved Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 23, closes with the familiar, comforting words, “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” To help us understand what King David meant when he wrote this, we need to consider the story of his life. He was living with the end in mind.
In David’s day, the official place of worship was still the old tabernacle, dating from the time of Moses. When David set up his capital in Jerusalem, he was bothered about living in a house of cedar while “the ark of God dwells in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:2). He decided to build a temple for the Lord, but this was not God’s plan. God’s plans did include the eventual construction of the temple—but He made it clear that David’s circumstances weren’t right for the sacred task. According to 1 Chronicles 28:2–3, David’s role as a warrior made him unsuitable for the role of temple-builder. In God’s plan, David’s son Solomon would build the house for His glory.
With that backdrop, consider again what David was essentially saying at the end of Psalm 23: This life is so short. Ultimately, “I shall dwell in house of the LORD forever.” I might not get to build the temporary temple on earth, but I’m moving into the permanent one in heaven someday.
Look at David’s confidence as he declares, “I shall dwell.” He understood this was not a temporary visit, but that he would be at home “in the house of the LORD.” He knew he was moving into what Jesus called “my Father’s house” (John 14:2). The Bible gives us many clues about heaven, and they all add up to this great idea: We’re going home! We will finally be where we were designed to spend eternity.
Heaven was made for God’s children, and we were made for it. What Revelation 21:1 calls “a new heaven and a new earth” isn’t some alternative plan God worked out when humans fell into sin. Heaven was the plan and destination for believers all along.
This last word just might be the best word in the whole psalm: “forever.” Life on earth is short, and the deadline is coming fast. Eternity is racing upon us. Soon the clock will stop, and time shall be no more. As John Newton’s old hymn “Amazing Grace” says so beautifully, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, / Bright shining as the sun, / We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise / Than when we’d first begun.”
If you have received Jesus’ forgiveness and embraced Him by faith, you too can declare like David, “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” There is no better end to have on your mind as you walk through this life.
• To you, why are these words so comforting: “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever”?
• How does living with our eternal end in mind change the way we approach life on earth?
Father, thank You for the hope and comfort it gives me when You say Your children will live in Your house forever. Help me rejoice in Your plans even when mine are different or I don’t understand Yours. Thank You for always being good and merciful. Thank You that I can trust You while I walk through this life, eager for the day when I get to go home and be finally and forever with You. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, whose sacrifice makes this possible. It’s in His mighty name I pray, amen.
— James MacDonald
For more from James MacDonald and the “Walk in the Word” Bible teaching ministry, visit WalkInTheWord.com.