“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young – even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.” (NKJV)
This message carries a blessing which Abba seeks to release into the life of whoever reads it. May all the power and peace resident in this Psalm flow into your life and touch every part of it, in Jesus’ name, amen.
This Psalm is supposed to be a psalm of the priestly “sons of Korah” but many scholars say it carries the worshipful and adoring flavor of David’s writing.
Pilgrimages to the tabernacle were a big part of Jewish life, and families would journey together towards the place of worship, as they sang hymns and psalms, and praised God. Here the psalmist recalls the joy and the anticipation of walking towards the place of worship as he says “How lovely is Your tabernacle O Lord of hosts”! He longed to be in the center of the Presence; He longed to be in the place of praise.
The psalm says “Blessed are those who dwell in Your house.” Those who live in the Presence of Almighty God are indeed “blessed”. There are different words for ‘blessing’ in Hebrew, but the word used in Psalm 84:4 is “asre” which is translated “happy” and “blessed”. The writer knew no greater joy than to be close to the ark of the covenant, in the presence of God. His happiness was in journeying towards the One he loved, singing songs of worship, and getting ever nearer to the Presence of the living Lord. He envied the little sparrow who made a nest for herself near the altar; he preferred to camp in the presence of God than to live in his luxurious palace miles away. He knew he was richly blessed just to belong to Yahweh and to feel His presence as he worshiped!
David said “blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.” This is a place of victory. It is the place of praise! It is the way David survived attacks against his life and kingdom, and how he fought and won many battles – simply by staying in the place of praise. The people of David’s day had to make the physical journey to the tabernacle or temple of God to meet with Him, and to offer their sacrifices of worship. Today you and I are the holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). We can meet with our Lord any time, through the door of worship and the path of praise. Like the little mother swallow mentioned in Psalm 84, we can camp near the altar all day and all night. We can live in the blessing – truly declaring that “Blessed are those who dwell in His house”!
Today the Holy Spirit calls us to live in the place of praise. It is a place of great blessing, fulfillment and joy. It is a place of victory and overcoming, and we can draw truths from this psalm to enter and stay in this place of praise.
• Another Hebrew word for blessing used in some of the psalms is “barak”. It is “to kneel or bow”, or to give loving reverence to God. It also implies a continual and conscious attitude of submission to God and His presence. We enter the place of praise when our focus shifts from seeking a blessing and we seek to be a blessing as we worship our Lord just for who He is – the majestic and mighty King of all the universe. David called Him “My King and my God”. He was able to freely worship God because he knew and acknowledged the Lordship and rule of the King over his life. Things happen in the presence of God as we worship and adore Him. God took care of his enemies and the affairs of his nation while David worshiped his King and Lord.
• David was drawn to the presence of God because he truly loved and cherished the Lord. He said “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” He so needed the presence of God that he felt physically and spiritually weak without it. When he could not feed on the goodness of God, he was like an addict deprived of his ‘fix’! He sought the Lord like a young man longing for his first love! It is not possible to enter or stay in the place of praise unless we sincerely love the Lord and His presence.
• Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8). David genuinely thought worship was a wonderful way to spend his time and get close to God. He said “How lovely is Your tabernacle O Lord of hosts”. He saw the beauty and power of worship, and how it led him into the presence of God. He journeyed with great love and joy to the “courts of the Lord” and of his own free will knowing that as he drew near to God, the presence of the Lord drew near to him. When there is a genuine desire to worship and exalt Jesus, there is a genuine breakthrough into the place of praise!
• David wanted to lay his life upon the altar. He was the king of Israel and a mighty warrior who slew giants and conquered kingdoms, but he had no difficulty in humbling himself and bowing his knee in worship as he sought the presence of the Almighty God. Although the affairs of state probably demanded much of his time and attention, he wanted nothing more than to be in the presence of the Lord always, as the sparrow was in her nest by the altar. It all begins at the altar, as we offer up our lives as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1).
Abba God has prepared a place for us, where we can live secure from the storms, and able to overcome the attacks of our adversary as we walk this heaven bound path of life. He calls us today to this place of victory, where He has commanded His blessing to rest. He calls us to this place of praise, but it begins at the altar, where “self” lies down and says “I lay my will at your feet. I choose to live to please you and not myself”. It begins with a sacrifice as we choose His way instead of ours. Anyone who is willing to lay down their life unconditionally to love, worship, and honor Jesus, who laid down His life for us has entered that higher level – that place of perfect praise, hallelujah!
May you dwell in that place of perfect praise. May the presence of Jesus be powerfully real to you and fill your days. May you find great joy in loving and worshiping the beautiful One not just today, but always. You are blessed!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 21 January 2013