Psalm 27: What is Your One Thing?

Paul Tripp
Paul Tripp
2012 26 Nov

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; 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 seek him in his temple.) (v.4)

It's an incredible statement, one that I'm not sure I could honestly make. It's made even more powerful when you realize that it's written by a man who's under attack. His "one thing" isn't safety, or vindication, or victory. His "one thing" isn't power, control, or retribution. No, even under personal duress, the
"one thing" that David wishes for is to be in God's house taking in the grandeur and glory of the beauty of the Lord. This desire was designed to be the central motivating desire of every person created by God and made in his image. And yet, this side of the Garden, it seems a statement that could only ever be made by a deeply devout human being.

It does beg the question, "What's your one thing?" What's the "one thing" that your heart craves? What's the "one thing" that you think would change your life? What's the "one thing" that you look to for satisfaction, contentment, or peace? What's the "one thing" that you mourn that you've had to live without? What's the "one thing" that fills your day-dreams and commands your sleepy meditations? What's your one thing?

The spiritual reality for many of us is that that "one thing" is not the Lord. And the danger in that reality is this; your "one thing" will control your heart and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions. Your "one thing" will become the one thing that shapes and directs your responses to the situations and relationships of your daily life. If the Lord isn't your "one thing," the thing that is your "one thing" will be your functional lord.

Here's what you say to yourself when something is your "one thing," "Life only has meaning and I only have worth if I have___________ in my life." The problem is that the "one thing" catalog is virtually endless:

1. Power: Life only has meaning/I only have worth, if I have power and influence
over others.
2. Approval: If I'm loved and respected by________.
3. Comfort: If I have this kind of pleasure/experience.
4. Image: If I have a certain look or body image.
5. Control: If I'm able to have mastery over this area of my life.
6. Helping: If people are dependent on me and need me.
7. Dependence: If someone is there to keep me safe.
8. Independence: If I'm completely free of the obligation or responsibility to take
care of someone.
9. Work: If I'm highly productive and get a lot done.
10. Achievement: If I'm recognized for my accomplishments.
11. Materialism: If I've a certain level of wealth, finance, nice possessions.
12. Religion: If I'm adhering to my religion's codes and accomplished in it's
13. Individual person: If this one person is in my life and happy there and/or
happy with me.
14. Irreligious: If I am totally independent of organized religion and have a self- made morality.
15. Racial/cultural: If my race and culture are ascendant and recognized as superior.
16. Inner ring: If a particular social or professional group lets me in.
17. Family: If my children/parents are happy/happy with me.
18. Suffering: If I'm hurting or in a problem, only then do I feel noble, worthy of
love or free of guilt.*

You see, in every situation and relationship of your everyday life, there's a "one thing" war being fought on the turf of your heart. You and I are only safe when the Lord really is the "one thing" that commands our hearts and controls our actions. Yet there are many things that compete with him to be the "one thing" that's the one thing that your heart craves.

Where are you looking for meaning and worth? What's the "beauty that you wish you had in your life? What's your "one thing?"

*List adapted from Hannibal Silver (Doctor of Ministry Project, Westminster Theological Seminary) 

"This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit"