Living as God’s dwelling place

The worship song Better Is One Day was written by Matt Redman quite a few years ago and have been recorded by Redman, Chris Tomlin, Kutless, etc. and has become a fan favorite in a lot of contemporary churches all over the world. This song also made it into the repertoire of the church in Nuuk we visited during our recent trip to Greenland. I shared with the small group that we were gathered with while singing this song a revelation that God showed me a while ago. It’s a wonderful catchy tune and the lyrics of longing after God are powerful. But not true anymore…

The lyrics to the song are taken from Psalm 84 where David cries out to God in this way:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearn, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (verses 1-2)…Better is one day in your courts that a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (verse 10)”

David is desperate to spend more time in God’s dwelling place which in Old Testament/Old Covenant days was the Temple of God. The temple that David so desperately desired to build for God so they could spend more time together, but where David had to accept that God had chosen David’s son, Solomon, to be the one who were to build the Temple in Jerusalem. David longed to come in and encounter God and be in God’s dwelling place. God’s dwelling place was a place outside of David. A place he longed to travel to and spend time in. A place that didn’t belong to David, but where he longed to be welcomed as a guest. Even if he just had to stay outside in the courts, David would be excited, because he would know that at least he would be close to the presence of God.

This was David’s reality and it was the reality of all believers in the Old Testament times before the New Covenant was set in effect after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the permanent coming of the Holy Spirit. But this is not the reality of any New Covenant believers, and therefore not the reality of any of God’s children today! We don’t have to travel to Jerusalem or somewhere else to visit God’s dwelling place. We don’t need anybody to intercede on our behalf, because we fear that we are not welcome. We don’t have to be afraid that the Temple will be shut down for us, because we have committed some sin or just don’t have the right heart attitude.

The great news of the New Covenant, of the new agreement between God and his children, is that we are now God’s dwelling place! And that dwelling place sure is lovely!

1. Corinthians 3:16-17 puts this piece of truth this way: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God’s, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are

Wow…I am the dwelling place of God! I am God’s lovely dwelling place! I can rest in that. I don’t have to go anywhere, do anything, wear special clothes, eat special food, attend any fancy ceremonies or anything like that to approach God, because he is already inside of me. And he has declared that the dwelling place of himself is holy, and I’m that dwelling place, and therefore I am holy! I am as holy and righteous and blameless as the Temple in the Old Covenant was. God lives in me, rules in me, encounters me in me. And I can always fellowship with him, because he is right here inside of me.


Stop praying like David!

We have to stop using language from the Old Covenant and talk about it as if that is our reality today. It is not! We are no longer in the Old Covenant. If you want to read through a book that talks about the difference between the Covenants, and why David, Abraham, Moses, etc. would be jealous that they didn’t get to live in the New Covenant days, that you and I experience, go to the book of Hebrews.

We have to stop inviting God to come. He came. He is here. He is in me. You only invite somebody to come who isn’t here. He doesn’t need an invitation. He is already here.

We have to stop praying with David from Psalm 51: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me“. He will not take his Holy Spirit away from a true believer in the New Covenant. In the Old Testament/Covenant days the Holy Spirit came at different times as a visitor. Today he is here permanently living in each of God’s children. As Paul puts it in 1. Corinthians 6:17 “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with him“. Not two separate spirits. One spirit. Just one. We are one with Christ and his Spirit will never ever leave us. No matter what we do/think/feel or say he will not leave us. For David there was a real fear that the Holy Spirit would leave him. That fear is not a part of the New Covenant. Let’s appreciate this miracle and stop praying as if we were still a part of the Old Covenant.

Maybe we could change the lyrics to Better Is One Day to something like this:

“How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord almighty. For my soul longs and even faints for you. For within me you encounter me and I’m satisfied in your presence. I sing beneath the shadow of your wings.

Better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you than the reality I lived in before I came to know you

One thing I ask, and I would seek to see Your beauty, to find You inside of me and have you reveal Your beauty to me.

Better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you than the reality I lived in before I came to know you”

(I’m by no means a great song writer, so if you, dear reader, have a better New Covenant-reality-inspired version of this song, you’re very welcome to post it here!)

Here is a video with the old version of this song 🙂 :

Blessings, Torben

2 Responses to “Living as God’s dwelling place”

  1. 1 chloe l.
    February 12, 2010 at 5:24 am


    I appreciate your joy in the glorious new covenant. But the verse you quoted, Psalm 64 is still a very applicable and powerful prayer, one I sincerely pray now. Yes God is in us through His Holy Spirit, but we still wait for Christ’s second coming. We wait to BE with Him fully. We are still swimming in sin in this life and in this world. As believers we are not drowned by it, but we are in it. I long to be free and clear to be with God perfectly, to see His beautiful face and be completely and perfectly changed. The prayers of the old testament still apply.

    Thanks for blogging and for listening.

  2. February 13, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Hey Chloe! Thanks for your comment. I do believe that the reality for us as New Covenant believers is that we are God’s perfect temple already (1. Corinthians 3:16-17). We are holy, pure and perfect in our spirits already (Hebrews 10:14)! As holy, pure and perfect as our spirits will ever be. This is the reality of us as justified believers. We are, however, in the process of sanctification, where what is already true about in our spirits/in our identities is being worked out by God, so it becomes more and more a living reality in our soul lives (personality, mind, thoughts, emotions, choices) and even in our bodies.

    Paul makes it clear in Romans that we are dead to sin already now. We don’t have to live as if we’re under sin’s control, because that is not the truth about us as believers. So the process of sanctification and victory becomes one where God makes the truths of who we are in him more and more our experience. We can still choose to live in the mediocrity and helplessness of Romans 7 or in the uncertainty and please-don’t-take-your-Holy-Spirit-away from the prayers and mindsets of the people of the Old Covenant. But I firmly believe God wants us to be fully convinced that we are completely safe in him and that nothing and nobody will ever be able to change that – and that is something incredible about living in the day and age of the New Covenant!

    So while I disagree that Old Covenant prayers still apply directly to us today, I’m with you in looking forward to the day where we get to be with Christ and there will be absolutely no felt separation in any way shape or form between my Savior, Hero and Sustainer and me! Amen, come Lord Jesus. Come soon! Thanks for your comment, and for searching the Scriptures and offering your opinion!


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