Psalms of Honesty and Truth
When you don’t attend your worship service at your regular place of worship, do you miss it? I mean, seriously miss it, as you would a lost, beloved possession? Maybe you missed going because of illness, travel, or a downed vehicle. For whatever reason, maybe illness or distance, the commentators are hinting that this next Psalm that we quote quite often in our worship music, “How lovely is your dwelling place” and “better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere”, has been written by a Jewish man who couldn’t make it to Jerusalem for one of the feasts.
In his opening statement, the psalmist said two things: “The temple is lovely” and “The temple is beloved by all who love the Lord.” It was the dwelling place of the Lord, His house (vv. 4, 10), the place where His glory dwelled (26:8). Although God doesn’t live today in man-made buildings (Acts 7:47-50), we still show special reverence toward edifices dedicated to Him.
Yes, we can worship God anytime and anywhere, but special places and some stated rituals are important in structuring and focusing our worship experience on God alone. The important thing is that we have a heart devoted to the Lord, a spiritual “appetite” that cries out for nourishing fellowship with the Lord (42:1-4; Matt. 5:6).
The psalmist cried out for God with his entire being. He envied the birds that were permitted to nest in the temple courts, near the altar, as well as the priests and Levites who lived and worked in the sacred precincts (v. 4). How easy it is for us to take for granted the privilege of worshiping “the living God”, a privilege purchased for us on the cross.
Psalm 84, NLT
For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.[a]
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises. Interlude
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,[b]
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.[c]
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob. Interlude
9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.
Pause to ponder…
Although times of solitude and spiritual retreat can be very beneficial to us spiritually, believers today have constant open access into the presence of God because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His constant intercession for us in heaven (Heb. 7:25; 10:19-25).
Do we delight in the Lord and seek Him? Do we depend on His strength? Do we walk and work by faith? Are we among those who walk uprightly (v. 11)?
If you had to be absent from church for an extended period, what would you miss the most? Why?
Dear Heavenly Father, You know my heart well. I, too, since I was a very young girl have always loved going to your church, being with your church and worshiping you with all that is in me. When distracted by strife in your church, I am grieved. You are grieved more. But, still better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere. If we seek You, no matter what church we attend, we will find You. Thank you for the promise. Thank you for the prividlege to attend a corporate gathering of people who worship You. Purify our hearts to praise You in the most excellent ways because YOU are the Only One to be praised. How excellent is even Your very name, O Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen