We have been in the pandemic for 6 -7 months now. Our spirits tend to be weary and our perspective may need readjusting more frequently. During this pandemic we have seen the sad reality of sickness, suffering and death, and we are receiving a clear view of the pain and ugliness of racism.
Each morning as I start my day, I sit on my back porch and look for beauty. I am never disappointed. The trees, sky and river express beauty. When I see the deep green of the trees; the architecture of their branches and leaves; the delicate wings of the birds; and the soft blended colors of pink, orange, blue, and purple in the sunrise I feel hopeful because I see the beauty of God in the midst of the painful reality of these times.
I have always been intrigued by the concept of the beauty of the Lord. I imagine the beauty radiating from Him as a brilliant light, a sparkling and flickering of different colors. Somehow I always come up short, expecting some type of ethereal, mystical encounter, but perhaps God’s beauty is less ethereal and more readily understandable.
The Beauty of the LORD
My heart and imagination are captivated at the thought of God’s beauty as prayed for by David in Psalm 27:4. David writes of his heart’s longing.
- “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: 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 inquire in his temple.”
I am drawn in by the fact that David asks God to grant him the ability/opportunity to gaze on the beauty of God all the days of his life. Another fact stands out and that David believes it is attainable, we know this because the verse goes on to say that David seeks after this.
Start with the Word
I have to start somewhere in this quest so I start with the word “beauty” as used in Psalm 27:4.
There are several words for beauty in the Hebrew language, but the Spirit selected the Hebrew word transliterated “noam,” to be used in verse 4 of Psalm 27 perhaps because it refers to more than just the beauty of appearance.
“Noam” literally means delightfulness, but has an expanded definition of splendor, grace, beauty, kindness and pleasantness.
In Psalm 90:17 the word “noam” is defined as: beauty, favor, kindness or delightfulness.
The NIV, NASB, ESV, and HSCB translations of the Bible use the definition favor for “noam,” thus yielding another facet of the beauty of the LORD – His favor or grace.
“Let the favor (noam) of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17
The Beauty of the LORD – Jesus
The more I think of the different facets of the word “noam.” The more I begin to see Jesus, beautiful in grace, kindness, tenderness, and full of splendor.
I see the beauty of the LORD in:
- Jesus reaching out and touching the leper (Mark 1:40-42);
- Jesus looking around with grief in his heart at the religious leaders who want to withhold healing from a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6);
- Jesus as he shows mercy to the woman caught in adultery by silently sending away those who would stone her (John 8:1-11);
- Jesus calling his friend Peter to come walk on the water with him and then lifting Peter up when he fell (Matthew 14:22-33);
- Jesus as he lifts up the “bleeding woman” and calls her daughter (Mark 5:25-34);
- Jesus compassionately raising the only son of a widow from the dead so he can for his mother ( Luke 7:11-17);
- Jesus hanging on the cross breathing his last and asking the Father to forgive his accusers and killers, (and us) (Luke 23:33-34);
- Jesus letting a doubting man touch the nail holes in his hands in order to strengthen the man’s faith (John 20:26-28).
Reflections on His Beauty
So when I mentally “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,” I see Jesus!
Surely Jesus is the beauty of the LORD. Jesus exemplifies all that is delightful about God; all the grace of God; all the kindness of God; all the splendor and power of God – all His beauty.
Hebrews 1:3 expresses this thought of Jesus being the beauty of the LORD in slightly different terms.
- “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
When I gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and see Jesus it renews my hope in this dark time. Remembering the beauty of the heart and character of God brings a sense of peace and inner calm.
I can become preoccupied with the fear of the pandemic; the hatred and pride in political controversy; and the grievous injustice of racism. Focusing on the truths of the beauty of the LORD in Jesus produces faith and courage in me to move forward and not be enslaved by fear, depression and hatred. I can move forward with hope and faith to become a part of His beauty as I build into others and into my spirit.
Take some time and reflect on the beauty of the Lord that you see in Jesus, let it refresh your heart, faith and way of living.