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Reflections on Beauty III


In this third posting on beauty, we come to the beauty of God.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

(Psalms 27:4, ESV)

Is there certain music that gives you deep joy? Is there a view or landscape that does the same? If someone says, “What is the use of that?” you answer that the music or landscape is not a means to some other end but profoundly satisfying in itself. David’s supreme priority is “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4). “Gazing” is not a one-time glimpse but a steady, sustained focus. It is not petitionary prayer but praising, admiring, and enjoying God just for who he is. David finds God beautiful, not just useful for attaining goods. To sense God’s beauty in the heart is to have such pleasure in him that you rest content. (Timothy Keller, Songs of Jesus)

smoky mountains

The essence of true religious experience is to be overwhelmed by a glimpse of the beauty of God, to be drawn to the glory of his perfections and sense his irresistible love. It is something like being overwhelmed by the beauty of a great work of art or music. We become so enthralled by the beauty that we lose consciousness of self and self-interest and become absorbed by the magnificent object. Jonathan Edwards taught that our eyes are opened when we are captivated by the beautiful love and glory of God in Christ, when we see this love most powerfully demonstrated in Christ’s sacrificial love for the undeserving. (Gerald McDermott, The Great Theologians, 117,118) 

All the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation, is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who has an infinite fullness of brightness and glory. (Jonathan Edwards, The Nature of True Virtue)

The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of believers, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. (Cited in The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, ed. Kimnach, Minkema, and Sweeney) 

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