Year A – Epiphany 5 – Presentation of the Lord – Psalm 84

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise. 
Selah
5 Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
*
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.
10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

SummaryThe psalmist loved God, and loved engaging with God, and so he loved the place of God’s special presence, where he (with the worshipping community) engaged with God.  God’s courts were dear to him—he longed for them—his soul yearned to encounter God there.  In verse 6, he mentions that, leading up to the time of corporate worship, there may be times of “Baca” (tears), but the joy of worshipping God in His Temple turns those tears to refreshing springs.  The psalmist’s delight in God’s House—the place of God where he engaged in the worship of God—climaxes in verse 10, where he proclaims that he’d rather spend one day there than a thousand days anywhere else.  In fact, he’d rather be a doorkeeper at the place of God’s worship than live luxuriously in any other place.

Insight Are there any places special to you because of what has happened there, or who you’ve been with there?  One such place, for me, is a certain spot by a certain river in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: the girl whom I’d marry and I spent time there on our first date, and (later!) I proposed to her there.  To me, that place means my wife, and means those events.  Maybe, for you, there’s a kitchen where your grandmother always bakes cookies, or a tree branch on which you always write stories, or a park to which your dad always takes you.  A place can take on special meaning for you.  The psalmist felt that way about the tents and Temple in which God made Himself specially present for corporate worship.  Today, we are God’s Temple—we are the place of His indwelling presence—so, we no longer worship in Jerusalem, but anywhere we gather together, in spirit and in truth.  On Sunday mornings, when we come together at any place, we ascend to the Heavenly Temple and engage with God, and He makes Himself specially present with us at His Table.  Do you long for this time of corporate worship in God’s presence?  Does your heart yearn to be engaging with God among other worshipers?

Child Catechism
Q:  One day in God’s courts is better than what?
A:  One day in God’s courts is better than a thousand days anywhere else!

DiscussionIs there anything that we can do to engage with God more intentionally, and to enjoy Him more deeply, during Sunday worship, so that that time would grow more dear to us?

Prayer O Lord of hosts, how dear to us is your dwelling place!  One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  Grant that our souls might long for Your courts, and that our hearts might sing to You for joy, O living God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose presence is fullness of joy.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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