Sanctuary and the Spirit

My feet had almost stumbled,
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pangs until death;
    their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
    they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
    their hearts overflow with follies…

Behold, these are the wicked;
    always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
    and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
    and rebuked every morning…

But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end…

I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:2-7,12-14,16-17,23-26

“Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone. I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land… And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes… And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:16-20

The Psalmist is torn inside with angst and envy, mental turmoil over the unfairness of the wicked getting by with pride and violence, and prospering… until he goes into the sanctuary. There he contemplates his God, and God’s perfect character, and his soul rests in God’s presence, His counsel, His order of all things, His enough. The one who was slipping found his hope, his mind, His heart, his sustenance, restored.

The prophet tells those scattered in exile, as punishment for their rebellion, that even in lands distant from home, the Lord has been their sanctuary. Their place with Him would bring reunion and revival as He would redeem their spirit.

Sanctuary: a place of refuge or safety; a holy place; the inmost recess or holiest part of a temple or church. When we find ourselves in the far lands of envy, bitterness, or disappointment, our affections scattered among strange gods foreign to our intended first love, we can lose our center and grow spiritually cold. But when we delight in the sanctuary that is our God, He transforms our spirits, chiseling at wayward habits, bringing our senses and emotions under divine control, reorienting our loves. (Revelation 2:4)

What caverns of my life need to pulse anew, and with fresh passion for Him?

Lord, keep me coming to You, my sanctuary. May my worship there beat life into my spirit, even as it honors Thee.

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