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God’s Word for You

Psalm 84:10-12 I would rather stand at the door

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

10 Better is one day in your courts
  than a thousand elsewhere.
  I would rather stand at the door of the house of my God
  than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 A sun and shield is the LORD God,
  he gives grace and honor.*

* 84:11 The arrangement of God’s titles in this verse is uncertain.

Most readers will want to skip the first paragraph of our devotion today.

It probably doesn’t matter to very many readers, but God’s name at the end of the first line of verse 11 should be “the LORD God” according to the Hebrew accents, and there should be only an impersonal “he gives grace and honor” in the next line, but very few translations observe this. According to a colleague of mine from Poland who has worked with our seminary in China, only a handful of American scholars are interested in the Hebrew accents anymore; they are ignored throughout the rest of the world. This might be the case, but they shouldn’t be dismissed altogether. The Revised Standard Version and the Jerusalem Bible are two translations that follow the accented text as I have explained it here.

The priest or Levite who wrote this Psalm is so fond of his work in the Temple that he says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” He doesn’t mean that we should calculate the difference between a day and 2.7 years (1,000 days), but that any amount of time he gets to spend in the Lord’s house is better than anything else. More than that, he says that he would rather “stand at the door of the house of my God” than anything. He’s talking about the threshold of the Temple, about standing there like a servant waiting to fetch a towel or a glass of water for a master who may or may not say a word to him, but waiting and watching all the same out of love and devotion. In Esther 2:21 we learn about a conspiracy of two men who watched at the doorway of King Xerxes (Esther 2:21-23). Later in the same book, we hear about a man who “had just entered the outer court” (Esther 6:4). The language of both passages is very similar to the courts and the one standing at the doorway of this part of the Psalm, but notice how different those secular references are from this spiritual one! Human courts, palaces and capitals are places of lies, intrigue, mistrust and murder. Whatever peace such places know is only temporary. The court of the Lord is the place where we will know true and eternal peace.

  The LORD gives; he does not withhold any good thing
  from those whose walk is blameless.
12 O LORD of Armies,
  blessed is the man who trusts in you.

The Lord God is the Lord of Armies, but we should remember that this is not just a reference to heavenly armies. God is in control of human history, to bring about his plan. In the Old Testament, that plan was to prepare his chosen people Israel to receive the Savior Jesus Christ. Then when Christ came, the business of the Messiah living and dying as a substitute for mankind to atone for our sins was carried out, and his resurrection showed us that ours will be a physical resurrection like his on Judgment Day. Now we live in the time of the New Testament, in which God guides history in such a way as to carry the gospel of forgiveness through Jesus to the ends of the earth. He does not always work in ways we expect. He rarely follows a plan that any human being would ever have come up with. But he asks us to trust him and to walk in faith in Jesus.

Whose walk is blameless? Only those who trust in Christ their Savior. For his people, God doesn’t withhold any good thing. Pray to your Savior. Ask him and he will answer you. You already have his forgiveness. Wait and watch like a servant at the door, and he will bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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