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God’s Dwelling Place

We are temples of the Holy Spirit—a truth recited so often that it has ceased to impress us.

But to appreciate this marvel anew, we should return to Scripture and to Psalm 132.

This Psalm of David is about the city of Zion and how the LORD “desired it for his dwelling place” (v. 13).

Next to the nations around her, Israel was supposed to stand out. So while it appeared that she had a temple like the Philistines or Assyrians did, the temple at Zion was unusual: within it there was no image or idol.

This is because the true God is spirit, and he can’t be portrayed in a physical way. Besides, a man-made temple could never contain the infinite and majestic Lord. Even so, God was happy to show his presence there, close to his covenant people.

Zion was where David brought the ark, and where Solomon later built the temple. It was also the place from where David and his descendants ruled the land. When his sons walked according to God’s law, they brought great blessing to Israel.

But they weren’t always faithful, and they couldn’t save the people from their sin. So this psalm looks forward to a greater son of David. Jesus came as the great King, and as the one who revealed the power and wonder of God’s presence, when he was on earth “in the flesh.” In Jesus, God showed just how close the LORD is.

Christ has now ascended into heaven where he sits enthroned in glory and with perfect authority. But Jesus Christ still has a dwelling place on earth, for he has promised to be with us through his Holy Spirit. In fact, he says that the church is his temple!

As Paul writes to the Corinthians, and as he writes to us: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).

It was already a miracle when the holy and mighty God lived in a humble, man-made home in Zion. Now this miracle reaches a whole new level of wonder: Christ is pleased to live in the midst of his church. Though we are a lowly and sinful people, he is among us by his Spirit, blessing and equipping us for God’s service.

As believers we should see ourselves as God’s holy house. It means that the Lord expects holiness from us, because he is holy. He expects purity, because he himself is pure. As his temple we are on this earth to worship our God, to share his gospel, and to bring him glory.

Already now we are blessed to be in God’s presence everyday through his Spirit—and so we will be in his presence forever!


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