Psalm 84 (NIV)
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
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.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
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.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
What a wondrous Psalm, capturing the heart of a family dedicated to serving the Lord!
The sons of Korah were from the tribe of Levi, set apart for serving the Lord. King David and Samuel the Prophet appointed various members of Korah’s descendants to be in charge of:
- guarding the temple itself (doorkeepers)
- guarding the storehouses inside the temple
- baking the ceremonial bread
- mixing the spices for the celebrations
In this Psalm, we see a tremendous sense of community, of various members working together to bring honor and glory to the Lord in their assigned and everyday roles.
This Psalm seems to be a personal lament of one of these descendants while they are away from the temple. The text does not indicate the reason why the person is separated (sickness, official duties requiring travel, being held hostage by enemies, etc.).
In verses 1 – 2, the psalmist does not desire to be in the temple for the sake of being in a particular building. The psalmist yearns to be where God is, where God dwells, to be in God’s presence, in God’s community. In the Old Testament, that place was the temple.
In verses 3 – 5, the psalmist laments that even the lowliest of the birds are closer to the Lord (and thus more blessed) than he is. The psalmist sees the tremendous blessing in finding a road back to the temple; it is his heart’s desire and his mission – his pilgrimage.
In verses 6 – 7, the psalmist says that even having to pass through times of heartbreak (the Valley of Tears) is worth it to be back in God’s presence. Each step closer to the temple gives the psalmist strength to move forward and complete the pilgrimage.
In verses 8 – 9, the psalmist asks for God’s help to finish the journey; he knows he cannot complete it in his power and by his will.
In verse 10, the psalmist says it would even be better to be a doorkeeper who stands outside the temple, never entering in, than to be anywhere else. Being in God’s presence is the best place of all.
The psalmist concludes by giving praise and worship to the Lord (verses 11 – 12).
The Lord does not dwell in tents or temples any longer; as followers of Christ, He resides in our hearts and souls.
May we have the psalmist’s same desire to be close to the Lord, to throw aside any encumbrance that keeps us from being in constant community with Him.
Wherever we find ourselves, may we make it our pilgrimage, our sole purpose, to find our way home and walk with Him for the remainder of our days.