How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place

My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young–
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!

Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
They go from strength to strength.

I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalm 84:3-4, 5-6, 8, 11)

Scripture Study

84:4 As a sparrow finds a home The psalmist illustrates how God will never turn a faithful person away from His temple.

84:5 Blessed are Refers to those who are faithful to God above all else. those who dwell in your house This may refer to the literal servants in the temple or it may be a depiction of people who are so consumed by the experience of worship that they are almost always worshiping at the temple.

84:6 pilgrim roads The Hebrew word mesillah is a general word for a “road” or “track”; here, it seems to hold the idea of pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

84:7 through the Baca valley A valley associated with either balsam or weeping, depending on how the Hebrew text is understood. It was possibly located along a pilgrimage route to Jerusalem.

84:9 God of Jacob Compare 82:1, 4.

84:10 our shield The Hebrew word used here, magen, seems to refer to God’s anointed ruler in this instance, the king, who was also Israel’s military leader. your anointed Although God is called melekh (“King”) in v. 3, His mashiach (“anointed”) is His human representative: the king of Israel.

84:11 Better the threshold The psalmist states that simply being close to Yahweh’s temple is better than being in any other place.

Scripture Reflection

Of all the psalms that celebrate Zion and its temple as God’s dwelling place, the eighty-fourth has been the favorite. For Christians, the era when ark and temple were visible signs of an invisible presence of God in Jerusalem belongs to the time of the Old Testament, but that does not mean for us that God is placeless.

We exist in space and time. How could God deal with us if not through space and time made holy by divine claim? God is everlasting, but he has his appointed times. God dwells in heaven, but he has place on earth. We “go” to God. Every visit to a temple or church or meeting of believers is in a profound sense a pilgrimage.

We “go,” not just for practical or personal reasons; we go theologically. The psalm has interpreted churches and chapels as “dwelling places of God’s love, the abode to which our hearts aspire with warm desire to see our God.”

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.