Pilgrimage Heart Psalm 84 4/3/19

Psalm 84

For the music leader. According to the Gittith. Of the Korahites. A psalm.

84 How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns,
    for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body
    will rejoice out loud to the living God!

Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there;
    the swallow has found herself a nest
    where she can lay her young beside your altars,
    Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
Those who live in your house are truly happy;
    they praise you constantly. Selah

Those who put their strength in you are truly happy;
    pilgrimage is in their hearts.
As they pass through the Baca Valley,
    they make it a spring of water.
    Yes, the early rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
    until they see the supreme God in Zion.
Lord God of heavenly forces,
    hear my prayer;
    listen closely, Jacob’s God! Selah
Look at our shield, God;
    pay close attention to the face of your anointed one!

10 Better is a single day in your courtyards
    than a thousand days anywhere else!
I would prefer to stand outside the entrance of my God’s house
    than live comfortably in the tents of the wicked!
11 The Lord is a sun and shield;
    God is favor and glory.
The Lord gives—doesn’t withhold!—good things
    to those who walk with integrity.
12 Lord of heavenly forces,
    those who trust in you are truly happy!

This is a post about worship because this Psalm is about worship. We’re all made to worship.  Anything you ascribe worth to—your cat, your house, your car, your family, your friends, your multi-level marketing company—is technically worship (not heresy or sacrilege unless you put it above God).  So worshipping God is giving God credit for who God is. Which is a lot.  That’s a lot of credit.  If you don’t get excited thinking about how enormous and mind blowing God is, then your first step is probably to try contemplating things like creation, the cross, being outside the time-space continuum while also caring about you.  That’s crazy.  Once you realize how crazy it is, your ready to pray this Psalm.


1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns,
    for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body
    will rejoice out loud to the living God!

If you’re thinking about God the way I just described, this might be your reaction.  When the Psalmist says dwelling place, he’s probably referring to the temple, which is where he is expecting to experience the presence of God.  He desires to be in God’s presence (which in our New Testament belief can be anywhere, but we believe it happens powerfully in corporate settings like church).  He longs for that presence, and response to it with his heart and body.  In other words he means it and is responding to God with all of his spiritual, mental, and physical capacities.  When you are beside yourself excited you might yell, you might sing, you might dance, you might follow a calling or give up a broken pattern, you might not worry about what your neighbor thinks (or conversely you might worry about praying for your neighbor to feel like you do).  Don’t hold back.  How much is God worth?  Give God that.  So remember and discover who God is, and then respond to it with your heart and body.

Then the passage paints an amazing picture of the worshipper that hits me every time I read it.

Those who put their strength in you are truly happy;
    pilgrimage is in their hearts.
As they pass through the Baca Valley,
    they make it a spring of water.
    Yes, the early rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
    until they see the supreme God in Zion.
Lord God of heavenly forces,

Scholars believe that this Psalm was written to be sung on the way to the temple, possibly during a big festival.  In other words, they were on pilgrimage, a holy journey to encounter God.  But this Psalm seems to say that if you are worshipping, your heart is already on that journey.  In fact, if you are worshipping you’ll grow through Baca Valley (the valley of weeping) and springs of water will burst forth! Don’t we all need that in our lives.  We can see springs arise in our own pain and in the pain of others through our worship.  We’ll go from strength to strength—each new hardship met with a fresh blessing from God.  The road won’t be easy, but worship is our way forward; worship is our warfare.

Get a good picture of who God is, and respond to it, and watch the problems of the world melt away.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.