PASSAGE: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6 KJV).
QUESTION: I'm wondering what your interpretation is of David's statement in the latter part of this verse where he writes “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Some Christians believe that this is a reference to heaven; however, most people know that Judaism does not really have a strong concept of the afterlife. I have read various interpretations in Bible commentaries on this verse and am interested in your thoughts. Thank you!
COMMENT: I think it's helpful to wonder how Jesus would have understood this final image. He did not teach of “heaven” in terms of an afterlife—a separate place we might get to go to after death. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, he said, and it is within us. It is not a question of location, but of consciousness. So, too, I think “the house of the Lord” describes a state of consciousness in which we are completely aware of, and expressive of, the Christ consciousness that is our spiritual truth. Jesus does not promise this consciousness as a post-death reward for good behavior. He calls us to believe in it, find it within ourselves and express it in the course and process of this life.