May 7, 2017
A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 84 (NIV)
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, 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 have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
We now return to a few songs from the Sons of Korah who have given us what is widely cherished as one of the most beloved psalms in the entire psalter. It begins with the memorable words, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord” (vs. 1). It is a psalm which expresses our great longing to be in the presence of God: “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” For the sons of Korah who wrote this psalm it is a longing to be found in the Temple of the Lord. For the Jew, the Temple represented the majestic presence of God. It is better to spend one day in his courts than a thousand somewhere else. It would be better to even be a mere doorkeeper here than to dwell in the tents of the wicked (vs. 10).
As Christians, we recognize that the Temple in Jerusalem was but a dim foreshadowing of the greatest temple or dwelling place of God, which is Jesus Christ. We know that “one greater than Solomon” (Luke 11:31) has come and dwelt among us. To be in his presence surpasses even the radiant longing of the Jew to be in the courts of the Temple. In the New Creation, there will be “no temple” because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). We have a joy which surpasses even the heights of joy expressed by the Sons of Korah. What they saw was only a type, a shadow, of him who was to come. Our blessed hope is that we are called to live eternally in his presence!