Psalm 26:8-12 NKJV, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells. 9 Do not gather my soul with sinners, Nor my life with bloodthirsty men, In whose hands is a sinister scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations I will bless the Lord.”
The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord will endure forever.
“No Place like Home”
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place Like home. There’s no place like home.”
Now you remember those words, don’t you? From reading Frank Baum’s (1856-1919) classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Or, you might remember the classic movie based on his books, which ran on television once a year. As a child, the movie held some scary moments! I still hate those horrid flying monkeys! However, there is a sweetness in the play as well. In particular, when all seems lost, Glinda, “the good witch of the North,” instructs Dorothy to click her heels three times, saying, “There’s no place like home.” Magically, Dorothy is back in her own bed, in her own home, in dear old Kansas. It is said to have been one of the most emotional moments in film history. I believe that because there is a longing for home in each of us, a longing that cannot be fully realized with a “Mac-mansion” in this life. No, home is more than a house. Home is the place where you belong.
For some of us, home comes into sharper focus as we have “struck out on our own.” Childhood is behind us. We are finally in control, or so we initially think. But soon, the race we are running exhausts us. We long for the place where we started the journey. The place where your dreams were nurtured is safer than the place where your dreams are pursued. For others of us—perhaps, someone reading this now—you are on an extended business trip, and home is where your wife and your children are. Oh, if you could only click your heels and “be there!” We all understand.
The feeling of longing for home is universal. People in 2022 BC or 2022 AD understand the visceral ache of longing for home as much as people in Chennai, Chicago, Cape Town, or Cornwall. I know that feeling, too. It’s funny: As one grows older, one experiences a unique longing for home that is both familiar and new. Home becomes increasingly associated with the place where our very soul belongs. Dr. Craig Barnes wrote that home “. . . is the memory of Eden, written on every newborn soul, that makes us discontented with the place where we are ” (Barnes, Searching for Home, 2003, p. 14). So, what does longing for home mean to you?
In our text, David had this feeling of longing for home. In Psalm 26:8, King David states, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells.” The passages that follow teach us that David’s cry for home is set against the harsh realities of the life he is enduring. Living life apart from God is the opposite of home. It is the “far country.” Life without God is the Waste Land of T.S. Eliot, a memory and desire without fulfillment: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain” (Eliot, Waste Land, 1922, lines 1-4). It is the frozen “winter” of Lewis’ Narnia. David, of course, knew of life on the run from God. The shepherd-king experienced what it was to trade home with God for lodgings with evil. David’s directions were off. He thought that “home” meant going to a place where one is accepted for one’s sins, rather than a place where one is forgiven of one’s sins. If you believe that home is the place where you can defy God and be encouraged in your sin, just see what happens when you show regret for your decisions. You will quickly learn that if you turn remorseful of sin, you will be most unwelcome. To regret your sin is to unintentionally but quite definitely condemns the behavior of others. We who Jesus has saved will never be at home in the company of those who defy Him. Thus did David long for home with God.
This passage is a wonderful devotional for those who feel that longing for home in their hearts. After a long season of isolation because of a pandemic, many of us are so grateful to be back in the house of the Lord, our place of worship. Of course, this experience is merely a shadow of a greater reality. Our souls ache to know home with the One who made us, loves us, and sent His Son to live the life we could never live and die the death that should have been ours. We long for God. And why is that so?
Home with God is the Refuge We Seek.
Home is a refuge, a “safe house” from the threats around us. In contrast to the wickedness of the world, home with God is a place where His glory dwells.
God’s glory draws us into a love we could never imagine. God’s glory delights us from the inside out. God’s glory warms our souls. We intuitively know: “I am home.”
Your longing for home is a longing to live in the light of the glory of God. His glory is perfectly expressed in the Person of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To follow the Lord Jesus is to make the decisive turn towards the home you desire.
Home with God is the Reality We Want.
Home with God is an experience of fulfillment, peace, and contentment. Home with GOD is the reality we seek. It’s the place we have longed for and the fullness of the pretended places we have tried to call home.
When God led Israel out of bondage and through the wilderness, they had many lessons to learn. One of those was the truth of home. It took being isolated in the dry and lifeless land of the desert to see that home was not the place they left or even the Promised Land they were going to. Home is where God is. The Tabernacle provided a limited but effective picture of the household of God. The cloud that covered them from heat, the pillar of fire that guarded them by night, and the place of atonement from sin was the place where they needed to be.
Coming to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give us a home of refuge and a home that is real. Thirdly, Psalm 26:8-12 also teaches us this:
Home with God is the Redemption We Need
David loved living in the glory of God’s presence because God had shown him mercy. David writes, “Redeem me and be merciful to me” (Psalm 26:11). The places where David chose to live were not habitable by a sinful soul in need of mercy. There is no mercy in the harsh wastelands of disobedience. David needed redemption. Religion could offer David some hope if he could just get his act together. All of the religions of humanity are futile attempts to please the Creator or the gods they imagine through personal acts of devotion, sacrifices without sanction, and works of supposed holiness. None of these religions lead to home. They lead to personal bondage to a belief system that ignores or denies the free offer of grace to all who repent and turn to God through faith in the resurrected and living Jesus Christ. This is what David needed: a place of redemption. Home is not where we pay to get in. Home is where we are welcomed by the love and acceptance of a God who fulfills what He requires.
Home is a place of refuge we seek, a place of reality we want, and the house of redemption we need. We can’t click our heels and repeat three times, “There’s no place like home.,” and find that elusive place where we belong. However, there is a better way. You can say with David, “Redeem me. Be merciful to me. Forgive me and receive me for the sake of Your Son, Jesus, the resurrected and living Lord of all.” And you know what? Like David, you will discover that you have been led to the place you always dreamed of, the place where God’s glory in His Son our Savior Jesus Christ shines into your life now and forever more. Then, we can truly say, “There is no place like home.”
I have known many people who have, in the words of Phillip Yancey, experienced “disappointment with God.” Their prayers were not answered in a way they had anticipated. Life didn’t turn out the way they had planned. Sickness or tragedy interrupted their imagined guarantee of perfection. Some of these people were angry with God or disappointed with Him. Psalm 26:8-12 has a special message for you. You do not have to understand the deep mysteries of the universe to come home to God. In fact, you can have your disappointment and your questions, too. You don’t have to check them at the door of grace (or else the gift of God would not truly be grace). You come the way you are and lay those burdens at the foot of the cross. There, God was crucified by those He created, on a cross made of timber He spoke into being, in the silent and gruesome scene where God the Son cried to God the Father, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” You see, the mystery of your pain is given meaning by the enigma and paradox of the cross. The very thing that seeks to destroy you becomes the thing that saves you. Such wonder is everywhere in that beautiful place called home.
Barnes, M. Craig. “Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls – Ebook.” Christianbook.com. Brazos Press, 2006. https://www.christianbook.com/searching-home-spirituality-restless-souls-ebook/m-barnes/9781585585175/pd/36472EB?event=ESRCG.
Eliot, T S. “The Waste Land.” The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot. The Project Gutenberg, November 18, 2017. https://gutenberg.org/files/1321/1321-h/1321-h.htm.
Dr. Michael A. Milton (PhD, University of Wales) is the Distinguished Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Erskine Theological Seminary where he also serves as the Director of Chaplain Ministries. The retired fourth presidency and chancellor of the RTS System, Dr. Milton founded and shepherded 3 churches (KS, GA, and NC), and was the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga. Mike Milton is a US Army Chaplain (Colonel) retired, and remains President of the D. James Kennedy Institute of Reformed Leadership. Dr. Milton’s life verse is from Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” Or, as Mike puts it in the title of his autobiography, “What God Starts God Completes.”