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Psalm 84

Psalm 84 Summary Handout. Joy of Fellowship with the LORD at the sanctuary

Summary

The psalmist wrote this psalm, which was sung by the sons of Korah, a musical group, to express the desire and joy of worshipping in the house of the Lord, called your dwelling places (Psalm 84.1), the courts of the LORD (Psalm 84.2), your altars (Psalm 84.3), in your house (Psalm 84.4), in Zion (Psalm 84.7), your courts (Psalm 84.10), and threshold of the house (Psalm 84.10). It is unclear if this is pre-exilic or exilic, but regardless, the pilgrim worshippers of Yahweh are traveling to Zion so they may fellowship with Yahweh in his house. This would seem, then, to be pre-exilic. This privilege is the greatest of all blessings, for Yahweh is a sun and shield, gives grace and glory, provides for the upright (Psalm 84.11), and the person who trust in him is blessed (Psalm 84.12). Within this he prays for God to bless his anointed king, (Psalm 84.9), the guardian and leader of the nation, though the king is not named. As the pilgrims anticipate their time in Zion, they confess that they would rather be there than anywhere else, no matter what the world with all its pleasures offered them. Yahweh of Hosts is the source of life and protection, grace and glory, every good thing, and those who trust him are happy and blest. Note the repetition of blessed in Psalm 84.4,5,12, and of LORD of Hosts in Psalm 84.1,3,8,12.

Outline

  1. Psalm 84.1-4. The pilgrim psalmist longs to worship at Zion.
  2. Psalm 84.5-7. Those who travel to the sanctuary with their focus on God have blessings from God even though the trip is difficult.
  3. Psalm 84.8-9. The pilgrim psalmist prayers for the king.
  4. Psalm 84.10-12 Fellowship with God is better than anything the world offers, and Yahweh God protects and blesses those who trust him.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Explanation

  1. Psalm 84.1-4. The pilgrim psalmist longs to worship at Zion.
    • Psalm 84.1. He anticipates fellowship with the LORD of Hosts at the sanctuary (יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת Yahweh of the armies, Psalm 84.1,3,8).  This title emphasizes Yahweh’s great power over all forces.
    • Psalm 84.2. This verse expresses his longing to be at the sanctuary, and he cries out to the living God with this in mind. The word behind cry out (רָנַן ranan) could mean to cry in joy or anguish. To cry in anguish better fits the idea of the verse. He wants to be there.
    • Psalm 84.3. Birds are privileged to live there and nest in the area of the sanctuary. How fortunate they are. The pilgrim psalmist compares himself to them. How he would like to be there!
    • Psalm 84.4. Those who continually serve in the sanctuary are blessed (אַשְׁרֵי ‘esherey, happiness, blessedness, Psalm 84.4,5,12. Used 44 times in 41 verses) because they spend their time in the presence of Yahweh. They are reminded of his greatness, his salvation, and his care. The sanctuary was the place Yahweh met his people.
  2. Psalm 84.5-7. Those who travel to the sanctuary with their focus on God have blessings from God even though the trip is difficult.
    • Psalm 84.5. This pilgrim traveling to Zion has his mind set on God. God strengthens him day after day, even though he goes through many hardships.
    • Psalm 84.6. The Valley of Baca was an arid area that they traveled through. God provided rain and the rain made the area into a place with springs of water. God provided water for them as they pushed ahead to Zion.
    • Psalm 84.7. As they travel they continue to receive strength from God and each comes into God’s presence in the sanctuary.
  3. Psalm 84.8-9. The pilgrim psalmist prays for the king.
    • Psalm 84.8. The psalmist prays to the personal (LORD Yahweh), majestic powerful (Elohim), LORD God of the armies (צְבָאוֹת tseba’ot). This appeal brings out his unique and personal status, his great power, and his ability to command all the forces on earth. He is also called the God of Jacob which recalls God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and therefore appeals to God’s commitment to Israel (Exodus 2.24; 6.8; Deuteronomy 34.4; 2 Kings 13.23; Acts 3.13; 7.32; and others).
    • Psalm 84.9. The shield could refer to the LORD (Psalm 3.4), but in this context the shield and anointed refer to someone other than God. The reference is to Israel’s king (Psalm 2.2). The king is God’s chosen one and the one who has the duty to shield or protect the nation. The specific reason for the request is not stated, though God’s king in Israel always needs God’s protection as the biblical history shows.
  4. Psalm 84.10-12 Fellowship with God is better than anything the world offers, because Yahweh God is the source of life, protection, grace, glory, and blesses those who trust him.
    • Psalm 84.10. Here are two comparisons that amplify the psalmist’s longing for fellowship with God and the privilege of visiting God’s house (Psalm 84.1,2,3). They give us the right perspective. One day is better than a thousand outside, and standing at the doorway is better than living inside the tents where wickedness lives (see the same idea with Moses in Hebrews 11.23-26).
    • Psalm 84.11. The psalm ends with a summary of why fellowship with God in his house is so good. The LORD God is a sun and a shield, a metaphor, a picture to explain who he is for his people. The sun is necessary for life to go on. It gives heat, energy, and light. Life cannot exist without the sun. The shield gives protection. Life is full of times his people need protection. Furthermore, the LORD gives grace (חֵן chen)and glory (כָּבוֹד cabod). This is what he does. Grace is the cause behind is work. Glory is result of his work, the benefits we experience. The promise completes this verse. The LORD will not hold back (מָנַע mana, with hold or hold back) good (טוֹב tob) from one who walks or lives in integrity (תָּמִים tamiym, complete, sound, whole, integrity). The person who lives by faith and in obedience to the LORD will not lack anything that the LORD thinks good for him. The LORD takes care of his own.
    • Psalm 84.12. Now, the final conclusion. The psalmist addresses Yahweh of Hosts with an exclamation. The one who trusts (בָּטַח batach qal participle masculine singular) in Yahweh is so blessed, happy (אַשְׁרֵי ‘asheri, Psalm 84.4,5). This last verse seems to go beyond those who are privileged to spend time in God’s house.  The LORD wants all his people to trust him.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

So what for us?

  1. Close fellowship with God is most important—in the Old Testament times and in the New Testament time.
  2. The sanctuary held special significance and blessing for the Old Testament people. We in the church are not limited to a special building, but the New Testament does place special value and significance on believers gathering in church. Here we learn about God. We honor God in company with other like-minded people. We are encouraged together. We are more likely to focus on our Lord. The church provides the reality of God’s presence for his people today, and especially when our faith comes under great attack.
  3. The LORD God of Hosts is our source of life, protection, grace, and glory. No one else or nothing else compares to him.
  4. The LORD wants to give what is good for and to those who live uprightly—in fellowship with him and obeying him. He treats us in grace, yet he is not the super genie who does what ever we think we want even if we disregard him in the way we live him. If sin intervenes, confess it and move ahead in the spiritual life.
  5. Trust in the LORD always. To trust means to take him at his word, to believe him. This person is happy because his life, his perspective, his purpose is in the LORD.