This psalm was written by the sons of Korah and centers around describing a love for being in the presence of God.
My Delight Is In The Lord (1-4)
The psalmist begins by desiring to be where God dwells. He perceives the dwelling place of the Lord as lovely. His spirit desires to be in the courts of the Lord. In fact, his desire is so powerful that he says that he faints for the chance to be in the courts of the Lord. His heart and his flesh sing for joy to the living God when thinking about being in God’s presence. The psalmist is describing not a mere love for God, but an appetite for God. His spirit, his soul, and his flesh longs for God. The chorus of the song “Walking Alone At Eve” expresses this very concept that we often sing:
“O for a home with God, a place in His courts to rest, sure in a safe abode with Jesus and the blest.”
Verse 3 goes on to describe how even the birds find a home in the dwelling place of God. This pictures the presence of God as an inviting place to come, not a place of fear. The creation of God is depicted as enjoying being in God’s presence. Even further, the psalmist seems to express a jealousy that the birds are able to have the courts of the Lord being their home. The birds never have to leave, while the psalmist longs to spend this amount of time in God’s presence. Thus, the praise of verse 4, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!” Those who can always be in God’s presence have a great blessing and a great advantage.
How many of us feel the way the psalmist feels about being in God’s presence? How many of us look at being in God’s presence as an opportunity rather than a duty? How many of us joyfully long to worship the Lord? Too often we are the exact opposite. Why is it that there are so few people here at 9:30am showing their desire to study and learn from the Word of God? Why is it that so many only want to give God one meager hour, rather than longing to spend as much time as possible in worship? The psalmist describes a longing to be in the courts of the Lord, singing praises of joy to the Lord. We must develop this same love to be in the presence of the Lord.
My Strength Is In The Lord (5-7)
Verses 5-7 describe the efforts and work of traveling to Zion. I believe we are supposed to visualize the pilgrimage the people of Israel would have to make three times a year to keep the feasts of the Law of Moses. We are given the picture of the difficulties that they endured for the opportunity to worship the Lord. They go through the valley of Baca (which means the valley of weeping) to the place of springs. Passing from the valley of weeping, they go from strength to strength. But this is not simply picturing the physical movement of the people, but the actual heart of the people. This point is found in verse 5, “whose heart are in highways to Zion.”
The people not only needed to overcome physical hardships, but also the emotional hardships. The psalmist is picturing the rollercoaster of life. We go through the valley of weeping between the times of strength. There are times when life is smooth and easier. But in between those times we move through the valley of weeping. Too often these are the times in life that we give up. When we encounter physical hardships, we choose not to go worship the Lord. Many times it is not even a hardship, but would be more appropriately classified as an inconvenience. It is an inconvenience to worship the Lord, and so we do not. But this shows that our souls do not long for the presence of the Lord.
One of the old Puritan writers observed that the desires of the heart are the best proofs of our salvation. If you want to know if you are truly a child of God, examine your desires and you will quickly find out. There is no way to cover up our desires. We can fake the things that we say and the things we do. But you cannot distort your desires. What you want to do reflects your spiritual condition. Life is not going to be easy. We need to quit making excuses as to why we choose to not be in the presence of God. Do we suppose that being tired will be acceptable to God. Will the excuse of being too busy? Will the excuse of being inconvenienced? Will the excuse of family? Will the excuse of work? Will the excuse of school? Will the excuse of vacation? God is looking for hearts that are longing to speaking about spiritual things, energized to worship and serve!
Jesus says the same thing about the nature of the kingdom of God:
“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'”Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'” (Luke 14:15-23; NIV)
I do not want to give a full analysis of this text because we do not have the time. But notice that God ruled out all the excuses given that seem rational to us. These people were busy. One had just purchased a field that needed his attention. Another had family responsibilities and could not come to the banquet. Yet another had just purchased some oxen and he was on his way to use them. The point is that the people had things to be done. But God responds in anger and declares that none of them will be in the kingdom of God. The picture in this section of Psalm 84 is to teach that we will have disappointments and difficulties, but we must make sacrifices for the kingdom of God. The sacrifices are worth it because we are able to be in God’s presence. Let’s return to Psalm 84 and look at the rest of the picture.
My Trust Is In The Lord (8-12)
Our love for God should make us want to sacrifice ourselves. Look at verse 10: “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A day in God’s presence worshiping is better than a thousand doing other things. I believe our desires reflect the opposite of this statement. We would rather do anything else than be in God’s presence. We do not want to go to gospel meetings and worship God at other times. Our desire reflects our sinful condition. The psalmist is not pictured as wanting to know when we can leave the temple courts! He is not looking at his watching wanting to get out of there. The psalmist does not want to be near God as little as possible. Yet these are the things we do, again reflecting our spiritual condition.
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” The psalmist says that he would rather be inconvenienced so as to be near the house of God rather than be in the comfort of tents but not near the Lord. Verse 11 shows the reasoning behind his actions. Not only has the psalmist expressed his love to be in God’s presence, but he sacrifices his desires because: “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” God will bless us when we make this choice. We are not disciples of Jesus when we do not have this desire to worship and serve the Lord that the psalmist describes in this song.
Verse 12 is the summary of the point of the psalm. “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” The psalmist has perfectly described the true meaning of putting one’s trust in the Lord. Putting our trust in the Lord is not simply confessing that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God or is the Lord of our life. We truly trust in the Lord when our desire is to be in the presence of the Lord above all else (vs. 2). We would rather serve God and worship God than enjoy the comforts of life. We must desire to ever sing God’s praises (vs. 4). When our hearts on the highways to God, we will go through the valley of wailing, but enduring from strength to strength. God is our shield who hears our prayers and helps us through our difficult times. But we need to truly put our trust in the Lord. It is time to stop making excuses that we think justify us before God. We do what we want to do. Measure your wants. While you can fake your words and actions, you know what you want to do. If your desire does not match the desire of the psalmist, then we need to know that we are not in God’s grace. We have placed our desires above our own. Give God your time and full effort and you will find these things to be worth the effort.