God’s Word for You
Psalm 84:1-4 How lovely is your dwelling place
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, May 3, 2019
For the choir director. According to Gittith.
Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
As we saw earlier in Psalm 81:1, “Gittith” is a musical style which may have involved intonation, instruments, or even rhythmic elements. The three Biblical “Gittith” psalms (8, 81, 84) are dissimilar enough to make “rhythmic elements” the less likely suggestion.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Armies!
A mishkan is a “dwelling place” or tent in the oldest sense of the word, a light frame of planks with fabric draped or stretched over to create a temporary living space. Paul describes the present human life with this idea: “While we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4). John reminds us that Christ made this same temporary dwelling for a while for the good of mankind: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
But God’s dwelling place is not temporary. His dwelling place is a vast and marvelous palace. It is heaven. Everyone who puts their faith in Christ has a place there, where we will reunite with one another, even and especially with those who have died before us and who await us there. All the infirmities of life will be removed there, and we will be healthy, whole, happy, and together there forever.
2 My soul longs, even faints, for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
What are “the courts of the Lord”? A court (Hebrew chatser) is an enclosed area of a dwelling which is distinct from the dwelling itself and the fields that surround it. The “outer courtyard” of the Tabernacle is an obvious example in the Bible. It was a curtained off enclosure where the sacrifices were made and the regular business of the sacrificial meals was carried out; where families sat down with the officiating priest and his family to consume the thank offerings and fellowship offerings together. The Psalmist can’t wait to experience what this will be like in God’s own heaven. Imagine what it will be like, he urges us, where every offering will one of praise and peace and thanksgiving, when burnt offerings and sin offerings will no longer be necessary because sin will be at an end! “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” God is real; God lives. God will dwell with us in heaven. When we are there our hearts will be satisfied as every question is answered and every glorious detail of our faith is explored, and God is praised for it. But also, our flesh will be satisfied since we will have contact with God and with one another. To hold the hand of God; to look into God’s eyes and see the compassion that has been there since before time began—my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God! To see the healing in his face that bent over the youth at Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and his friend Lazarus. He will give the same resurrection from the dead that he gave to them, and we will praise him for it forever.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow has found a nest for herself
where she may set her young—
a place near your altar, O LORD of Armies,
my King and my God.
4 Those who dwell in your house are blessed.
They are ever praising you. Selah
The Psalmist uses some of God’s most fearsome and powerful names: King, God, Lord of Armies. Yet despite God’s awesome power, even the most delicate and fragile creatures have a welcome place in his dwelling. The sparrow and the swallow, even the mama birds taking care of their hatchlings in the nest, have found a place here. All those who dwell in God’s house are blessed. The Psalm writer is simply remembering and describing the way things really were in the old Tabernacle, but with a direct application to life in heaven. Anyone, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, no matter how unlikely, no matter how much they may have been ignored or put upon in life, has a place in God’s heaven through faith in Christ.
Heaven is not the dwelling of the faithless. “Whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). But faith in Christ is not measured in good works or in numbers of souls baptized. Faith in Christ is nothing but trust that by the blood of Jesus our sins are covered over forever. We are redeemed, bought back from death. We are vindicated; our ‘guilty’ accusation has been turned into a ‘not guilty’ verdict because Christ our Intercessor has spoken and has defended us. He sits at the Father’s right hand (Mark 16:19), and as we await the day when we will join him in our eternal dwelling, we serve him in this earthly dwelling. How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord!
Pastor Timothy Smith