Psalm 65:3-4, “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone [ἱλάσκομαι/כָּפַר] for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”
Notice the transition into verse 4, “Blessed is the one…” We move almost instantly from one over whom iniquity has prevailed to one who is blessed by YHWH. And then, see what kind of blessing is in view: It is to be chosen and brought near; specifically, brought near in order to dwell in the presence of the Lord within His temple, there to be satisfied with His goodness, which is His holiness, which is the Beauty of His Name made known (Ex.33:18-19).
So, in the space of one verse, David goes from a man drowning in his own sin, to a man chosen by God and drawn into the Lord’s presence so that he might dwell in His temple and be satisfied with the beauty of God’s own Name. What is the transition between rebel drowning in sin, and chosen one feasting on the goodness of God’s name? It is v. 3b, “you atone for our transgressions.” YHWH Himself makes atonement for His people’s sin….and how does He do this? Leviticus 17:11—His gives blood on the altar….what blood? His own blood…the blood of the eternal and incarnate and beloved Son.
Yes, YHWH HIMSELF makes atonement where no atonement could be made…He swallows up the sea of sin and punishment in which His people are drowning, and He swallows it into Himself, in Christ, as He is raised up on the cross. The Beloved Son, lifted up on the mercy seat—the Altar-Throne—sprinkling His atoning blood over all peoples in the presence of God the Father, He is the atonement of God, He is the Lamb whom God Himself has provided, He is the sacrifice offered by God, to God, through God (Heb.9:14), who is Himself God (Heb. 1:3, 8).
And what is it to be atoned for in this way? What is the experience of one who receives the atonement of God in the crucified and risen Christ? It is to be chosen and drawn near, it is to be gathered into the temple of God—who is the slain and risen Jesus, into whom the one who has been atoned for is woven by the Spirit—and there, in that anastasiform Temple, to be satisfied with the GOODNESS of the Lord, which is His HOLINESS, which is His NAME / CHARACTER / IDENTITY / BEAUTY….This is the end goal and true result of the atonement that God works, namely, to be satisfied with the surpassing beauty of God’s own Name.
And see that His atoning work is not merely a means to this end; it is simultaneously the achieving of this end, because it is precisely in His work of atonement through Christ that YHWH’s Name is made known, and it is precisely in the knowing of this name that the blessedness of the one who is drawn near is found. The goodness of YHWH’s house and the holiness of His temple (the beauty of His name in which the atoned saint is eternally satisfied), these are opened to us only through the cross. Yes, only as the veil of the Lord’s own flesh is torn on the cross are we “brought near” and drawn into the True House and Temple of YHWH—the crucified Jesus who is raised and lives forevermore—there to be satisfied with the beauty of His name, which is the very beauty that He has revealed with definitive clarity in the work of atonement that brought us to this place.