Psalm 84:1-5a

To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

Though written by Israelites to be sung by the children of Israel, this psalm has a great deal of meaning for the Christian as well as to the children of Israel.

“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of host! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2.

Some speculate that this psalm was written by King David circa 1004 B.C. others say that it could have been written during the Babylonian captivity which began circa 606 B.C. (about 400 years after David) or any time between.

For simplicity’s sake let us put your church in place of the word tabernacle. Whether a house church or a huge building complex; how do you feel about it? Is it lovely?

When I say lovely, I mean is it lovely because the Lord is there, without Him it is just another building. Can you say that you long even faint to return there?

The psalmist takes this even further, his heart and flesh cry out for the living God. And further still, in yet another psalm.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2.

King David was called a man after God’s own heart. David was indeed a godly king yet he was no better than most of us in many ways, even worse in some ways; what made him different?

I believe that it was because God was David’s idol. Now God is real and idols lead us away from God, what a ridiculous statement this is.

An idol is anything that displaces God in our life.

But most of us have idols, which can be, golf, cars, sports, work, fame, sex, or riches, to name a few. What does your soul long for, yes even faint for, what does your soul pant for and your flesh cry out for?

David could say that his soul thirsts for the living God. I wish I could say that was continually true of me.

“My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord…” Psalm 84:2a.

There is another good reason for this desire; again in Psalm 42.

“When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.” Psalm 42:4.

Fellowship with other Christians, this is another reason to desire the courts of the Lord. What a delightful image this is as the multitude flows into the house of God with songs and bantering in voices of joy and praise for the Lord!

I wish this were a picture of the church of today.

“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young – even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3.

It is likely that the phrase, “where she may lay her young – even Your altars, O Lord…” is a reference to birds nesting in the structures surrounding the altars, since the altars would be unsuitable for nesting.

Look at the last phrase, “my King and my God”, all too many of us speak of and believe the, my God part, while only giving lip service to the, my King part.

“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…” Romans 10:9, New American Standard Bible.

What does it mean to believe in your heart that God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead?

Years ago a travel magazine carried an interview with the mayor of Jerusalem, during the interview a man came in and reported to them that the skeleton of a person who had been crucified had been dug up.

This caused quite a tizzy as they worried about all the tourist trade they would lose if they had found the remains of Jesus.

This filled me with revulsion, not fear that they had found Him, but a feeling of nausea that anyone would even suggest that the risen Lord was still in the grave.

Does it revolt you, do you avoid (even dislike) people who like to tell the Jesus and God jokes, does it annoy you when people call Jesus, J.C.

The creator of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy once stated that the blood of Christ was of no more value when shed on the cross than it was when it coursed through His veins.

If these things affect you, it is a good indicator that you believe in your heart that, “God raised Him [Jesus Christ] from the dead”.

The Christian’s problem with this verse though is that we “confess with your [our] mouth Jesus as Lord” without really living that out. As a result He is neither King nor Lord. However, confession with the mouth will soon bring a desire to live with Jesus as Lord of your life.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46.

“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Selah” Psalm 84:4.

It is tempting to think that the priests in the tabernacle were continually in a state of praise to God because they dwelt in His very house as above, and it was likely true quite often, especially during the reign of King David and Solomon.

The book of 1 Samuel 2:11 through 4:22, records the call of Samuel the priest (circa 1080 to 1017 B.C.), who anointed both King Saul and King David, and witnessed the destruction of the house of his predecessor Eli the priest.

Samuel was truly a godly man with an excellent character, yet he spent his youth living in the house of Eli and ministering in the tabernacle at the same time as Eli’s two evil sons Hophni and Phinehas.

The Law of Moses allowed the priests to have a portion of the meat from certain of the sacrifices that were brought in, yet these men would take more than allowed and some of the better cuts, by force if necessary.

As if this did not show enough contempt for God, they would have sex with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, thus showing their moral corruption; it should surprise no one that they both died on the same day.

It is sad to think of Samuel growing up in such an abysmal atmosphere. The continual blessings to God and the voicing of praises from those who dwell in the house of the Lord depends a lot on the individuals in there.

There are pastors, preachers, and elders who, like the house of Eli, are lax in their support for the sheep God put under their care, such individuals should be filled with thankfulness for the house God has entrusted them with.

A true pastor will be in constant prayer over those put under his hand, counseling and teaching them, not trying to increase the attendance numbers so he can brag or bring in more money.

This is unbelievably stressful, cumbersome work for someone who loves the Lord. And loves the people God has given him; it takes a humble godly man.

Or it can be little or no work at all for those who are like the scribes:

“…Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the Synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Mark 12:38b-40.

For them it is just a job.

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5.

It does not matter whether you are a Navy SEAL, Marine sniper, an Army Ranger, police SWAT member, or the common man, if your strength is not in the Lord you are in grave peril.

Men who have brute strength, or are under some form of fighting regimen have a tendency to rely on their abilities (which can be quite formidable) to carry them through life.

It might be added that even the 98 pound weakling has a tendency to overestimate his abilities.

But what does God have to say about strength, and remember this is not just about the power of the arm but things like perseverance, courage and rightly judging a situation. It is God who oversees everything.

“The lot is cast into the lap [the dice are rolled], but its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33.

God is sovereign over all.

“The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance. The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His habitation He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You.” Psalm 33:10-22.

Notice in verses 16 and 17 that a mighty man’s strength will not save him and the power of a horse is a vain hope. The Lord makes an even stronger statement in the book of Jeremiah.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man [geber, mighty man] who trusts in man [adam, a human being] and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man [geber] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but her leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.’” Jeremiah 17:5-8.

See how the man who trusts in man is not only cursed but he dwells in parched places.

These parched places are deserts of the soul.

The unbeliever looks at the world and constant worry, loss, and desperation seem normal, and like a desert shrub they look around them at the things Satan has brought into their lives and think, “This is as good as it gets”.

There are a great many Christians who accept Christ as their Savior and then drift away thinking that attending church once in a while is all that a good Christian walk entails. Soon they return to their worldly ways and are plunged into the same parched desert as the ungodly.

In time the backslidden Christian looks around at the shrubs and burning desert and thinks, “This is as good as it gets”.

However, look at the last verses in Jeremiah 17:7-8, repeated below, which tell us that “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord”.

“Blessed is the man [geber] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but her leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.’” Jeremiah 17:7-8.

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:16-17.

Psalm 84:1-5a taken from posted on 11-2-15 updated on 5-29-23.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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