How lovely is your dwelling place LORD Almighty! Psalm 84

1 How lovely is your dwelling-place, LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

We have seen the same longing for God in earlier Psalms.

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

The Psalm writers were desperate in their longing and in their thirst for God. They wanted so much to meet with God and spend time in his presence.
Psalm 63 1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Every experience of God led the Psalm writer to want to experience more and more of God’s glory.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Spending time with God was better than a banquet. No wonder the Psalm writers want to be in God’s presence.

2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;

If only more Christians were filled with the same longing for God. If only we could be so passionate about God.

my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

The Psalm writer is obsessed with being in God’s presence.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—
a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

The Psalm writer longs to be in God’s presence so much.

Psalm 27 4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
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 to seek him in his temple.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

The Psalmist longs to be in God’s presence, to seek God’s face. So he sets out on a journey to meet with God.


5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

The practice of making a pilgrimage is common in many religions. It is a specific journey to a place of some religious significance – for the Psalm writer, the Sons of Korah, it is a journey to worship God in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
Psalm 122 1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
2 Our feet shall stand Within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Psalm 122 1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (NIV)
It was the hope of every Jew to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem at least once, and especially to celebrate the Passover there. For centuries the Jews have finished their Passover meal declaring, “Next Year, in Jerusalem.”
Since the 4th century, Christian pilgrims have gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Over the centuries, many have made pilgrimage to Rome, or to Canterbury, or to other holy sites. Pope Benedict XVI explained the purpose of Christian pilgrimage like this.
“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.”

A pilgrimage can be a physical journey, but it can also be a metaphorical journey of faith, as the person seeks to draw closer to God. John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress describes different stages in a believer’s life as a pilgrimage. And in many ways every Christian is on a lifelong spiritual journey to come to know God better. In that sense, this Psalm speaks of the experience of all of us.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As we go through life it is right and good that our hearts and minds are set on drawing close to God. It is right and good that we depend on God’s strength to continue faithfully in that pilgrimage and ultimately reach that blessed destination. But the journey can often be difficult and challenging and even painful.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

Nobody knows the location of the Valley of Baca. Some people think it could refer to balsam trees, and link it to an occasion when King David had to make a difficult journey through a valley of balsam trees.
2 Sam 5 22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.”

So the valley of Baca could be physically difficult terrain. Or it could be a metaphorical place. The word Baca means weeping, so the valley could symbolize a difficult place to travel. But God provides for his people even in the difficult places.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

When God’s people are on a journey to find him, he will provide for all their needs. Water in the desert. All the strength then need to be able to persevere until they reach their goal.

7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

All the pilgrims is to depend constantly on God in prayer.
8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one.

And there will be times along the way when the only thing which will keep the pilgrims going is the hope of the blessings which are waiting for them at their destination. They set their hearts on the joys of finally entering into God’s presence and resting with him.

10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

We miss the point if we think that the position of doorkeeper in God’s house was some menial position.

1 Chronicles 23:1 When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.
2 He also gathered together all the leaders of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites. 3 The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. 4 David said, “Of these, twenty-four thousand are to supervise the work of the temple of the LORD and six thousand are to be officials and judges. 5 Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the LORD with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.”
The priests of Israel came from the tribe of Levi. But not every Levite was a priest. The rest had other tasks in the worship of God. Some were involved in the physical construction and maintenance of the Temple. Others made up the worship band. Equally important, being a doorkeeper in the Temple was an important duty given only to the tribe of the Levites, the priests of Israel. It was a great privilege to be a doorkeeper in the house of God.

11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose way of life is blameless.

God pours his blessings on those who put their trust in him. Hear these wonderful promises from the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 60 18 No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

Longing for God – the promise of wonderful blessings in God’s presence. No wonder the Psalm writers long to be in God’s presence so much. No wonder they set out on pilgrimage to come and rest in his presence.
12 LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

This entry was posted in Psalms.

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