June 15, 2016
The purpose of Psalm 84 can be summed up simply as: “My soul longs for the courts of the Lord.” The incredible joy of being able to worship the real and living God in his temple is an honor that no one deserves. These Israelite authors—the sons of Korah—knew this was a remarkable grace, because their own family’s past was fraught with sin and rebellion (Numbers 16). As these pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem (Zion) to worship God, this song expresses the emotions they felt on their journey. For us, the courts of the Lord are his presence. Jesus told the woman at the well (John 4:21) that God would now be worshipped in spirit and truth, rather than from the temple. The gracious fulfillment of this great promise (Matthew 27:51) gives us even more reason for our soul to long for his presence.
The psalmists’ brief interruption about birds being able to find a place at the altars of God may, at first, seem odd. But when we consider what Jesus himself said about sparrows, we begin to see a beautiful and extravagant grace found in God. In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus says that God watches over every single sparrow in existence: not a single one dies outside his hand. But then he says we are worth far more than any sparrow to God. If even a sparrow has a place at the altars of God, we recognize that our God’s graciousness is bountiful beyond measure. We see that he wants us to be with him—to know and love him forever.
The Valley of Baca seems to have been a dry and barren place on the journey to Jerusalem, some commentators refer to it as the “Valley of Weeping.” We find the psalmist telling us that those whose strength is in God will be brought through such places. And now, miraculously, the valley will bear springs and pools. In our own journey, there will be dry and barren valleys—this is an unavoidable part of living in a broken world. Despite this, those who trust God will go from strength to strength. In John 3, we get a glimpse of how this can be even a remote possibility: Jesus says that he has living water which becomes “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Sound familiar? The cross of Jesus Christ is where this living water ultimately flows from and drinking from it gives us direct access into the presence of God—not only now in this life, but forevermore.
For those who trust in this mighty God, there is no good thing that he withholds. That’s right, the psalms says no good thing is withheld. This is important to understand. We want a lot of things in this life. Some of these are good and right things to desire, but others are broken and harmful. Our main problem is that we don’t always see what is good and what isn’t, many times because we don’t want to. Psalm 84 seems to tell us that we should not concern ourselves with these things mainly, but rather pursue the Main Thing: God’s presence. He will meet our needs. Sometimes it may not feel like it, but that isn’t because he isn’t. Our biggest need to trust him and he will meet us where we are.
Seek out God’s presence. Go to his courts every day. Pray to him. Read about him in his Book. Think and dwell on him. Talk to him throughout the day. Consider all of the blessings he has provided in the past. Consider all of the blessings he’s providing you right now to even be alive and enjoy his world. If you’re in the middle of a dry and barren season, know that he’s removed all barriers for you to seek him out. He did that on the cross. There’s living water ready to be poured into every valley. He will bless everyone who puts their trust in him, and ultimately nothing good will be withheld.