By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
At the center of your being, what do you long for? Once you have seen the dwelling place of the Lord of Hosts, you have no desire to be any place else (Psalm 84:1-2). As the Sons of Korah strolled through the temple courtyard and reflected on the glory of the Lord, something caught their attention: birds’ nests (v. 3). If the Lord welcomes sparrows to nest in His presence, how much more will He welcome you to the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:18-24). The Sons of Korah could rejoice in the special role God had assigned them: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! (Psalm 84:4).”
In verse 5, the psalmist transitions from those living in the temple to one who dwells far from God’s house: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” The longing of this worshiper to go on pilgrimage (Exodus 23:14-17) is such that he has a map to Zion written on his heart. Is the Heavenly Jerusalem on your heart throughout the week? When you think of how blessed we are to be able to confidently enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19), our zeal and devotion should far surpass that of any Old Testament worshiper.
Though we have access to the Holy of Holies, we don’t live there yet. As sojourners and exiles, we can only look ahead with longing and anticipation for life in our Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem. With a shift back to the third person in Psalm 84:6-7, the psalmist reminds these Old Testament sojourners that any hardships along the way will be turned into joy (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). The Lord lightens their load by transforming a dry, arid place (“Valley of Baca) into a “place of springs” (Psalm 84:6). As you walk through life’s difficult valleys, you can rest assured that God will give you strength and answer your prayers (vv. 7-8).
Though this psalm is primarily about the author’s hunger to be near God, he pauses to pray for the king, the Lord’s “anointed,” Israel’s “shield” (v. 9). Regardless of the circumstance that prompted this prayer, the psalmist quickly returns to his passion in verse 10, because the temple is the place where all such blessings are realized. He would rather stand waiting at the entrance of God’s house than to be living inside the home of an unbeliever, far removed from the Lord’s presence. The reason he could say this is not because he loves the building or the place, but because he loves the One who inhabits that place (v. 11).
The psalm concludes with: “O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” (v. 12). This brings us back to the ultimate blessed man, Jesus Christ (Psalm 1). He fully trusted in the Lord and sang this song all through his pilgrim life. He longed for God’s presence, knowing that a day in his courts are better than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). Because Jesus is the blessed man, God “looks on the face of his anointed,” and “bestows favor and honor” to those who trust in him (vv. 9, 11-12). Let this psalm stir your emotions. As you worship, come with longing and joy, because you are meeting with the living God, who will increase your strength until you enter His presence in Zion.