A long time ago, when I sold residential real estate, I enjoyed developing relationships with buyers and showing them beautiful homes according to their needs and wishes. However, I learned that some people feel uncomfortable in elegant, well-decorated homes, which surprised me. I’ve never had that particular issue. As a matter of fact, at one point in my life, I house and dog sat in some spectacular multi-million dollar homes and enjoyed every minute. When I lived in Africa, I never got used to people saying that something was “too” good or that they were “too” blessed. In this context, you and I would probably say something is very good, ridiculously, or extremely good. Saying something is “too” much usually carries a negative connotation, as it did with some of my realty buyers. But many people have commented that my dog is “too” cute, and when we see our friends or family infants, they are just “too” precious. As we continue to study the blessings we have in Christ, from God’s Word to his people in the Old Testament, we can learn how to enjoy God’s blessings more effectively to the point of feeling “too” blessed in the best possible way. Today’s Psalm 84 “is a psalm celebrating pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship at the temple…The purpose of singing this psalm is to cultivate that delight, to open the eyes and hearts of God’s people to the staggering privilege of being a welcome guest in God’s own house, and to write deep into their souls the conviction that wickedness offers no reward that can even remotely compare to the joy and pleasure of God’s house. (1) God blessed his people when they worshiped him; when they relied on his strength, desired to be in his presence, and trusted him. As we meditate on God’s blessings, we increase our delight in worshipping and trusting God, relying on his strength, and enjoying the blessings of his presence.
Blessed in Three Ways
“The Temple in Jerusalem was for the Jew the most sacred spot on earth, for there in the Holy of Holies was the Shekinah glory, the visible manifestation of the presence of God. Of course the pious Israelite knew perfectly well, as Solomon had said, that God does not ‘dwell on earth’ and that ‘the heaven, even the highest heaven cannot contain’ Him (1 Kings 8:27). Nevertheless, He had been pleased to ‘put his name’ in Jerusalem and to cause the symbol of His presence to appear upon the mercy-seat behind the veil of the Temple. As a result, every Israelite loved the Temple and looked forward eagerly to every chance to visit it, especially on the three annual festivals.” (2) “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion…For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” (Psalms 84) “This is the intense language of love poetry. The psalmist finds the temple to be beautiful, not for its architectural virtues but because God is there. He is fully aware that all of his heart’s deepest longings will be satisfied not by some remote, impersonal divine force but only by a living God—one who is encountered as a personal, living presence.” (3) Now we have the very presence of God’s Spirit in us as a personal living presence. He is “too” close and we are “too” blessed!
The Blessing of the Journey
Have you ever climbed a mountain? I haven’t, but I can imagine moving toward the top, through an arduous climb, possibly in cold weather. The journey itself becomes a blessing because of the preparation, achievement, and companionship with fellow climbers. Every day she gets close to the top, the climber’s heart is encouraged by good planning and reliable equipment. The view from the top becomes the “icing on the cake.” “The longing for nearness to God will not be fulfilled in a stroke. Anyone who wants God must also go on a journey. We go from one degree of strength to another.” (4) “They go from strength to strength…Whose strength is in the Lord, and in whose heart are his ways, and who pass through the valley of Baca, and find a well of supply, and pools of blessings there; they renew their spiritual strength; they grow stronger and stronger every step they take…from victory to victory: first overcoming one enemy, and then another, as sin, Satan, and the world, being more than conquerors through him that has loved them: or ‘from doctrine to doctrine’; being led first into one truth, and then into another…increasing in the knowledge of him…Saints are passengers, travellers, or pilgrims, in this world, and often pass through a valley…a valley of weeping and tears, on account both of outward and inward trials…yet relief is afforded, help is given, refreshment is had…the rain of divine love covers the passengers with spiritual blessings, which flow from it; Christ, whose coming is compared to the rain, brings a train of blessings with him to his people; and the Gospel, which drops as the rain, and distils as the dew, is full of the blessings of Christ.” (5)
A Day With God is Better than a Thousand Elsewhere
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” (vs. 10-12) “For some of us, the ‘one day’ in God’s courses which is better than a thousand, must carry a double meaning. The Eternal may meet us in what is, by our present measurements, a day, or (more likely) a minute or a second; but we have touched what is not in any way commensurable with lengths of time, whether long or short. Hence our hope finally to emerge, if not altogether from time (that might not suit our humanity) at any rate from the tyranny, the unilinear poverty, of time, to ride it not to be ridden by it…For we are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.” (6) We are blessed through time and above time. Christ is timeless and his blessings are timeless, increasing in our journey until we are with him, blessed forever. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield…Christ is ‘the sun of righteousness’…he is like the sun, the great light, the fountain of light, the light of the world, that dispels darkness, makes day, and gives light to all the celestial bodies, moon and stars, church and ministers…no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly; that walk by faith, and on in Christ, as they have received him; who have their conversation according to the Gospel of Christ, and walk in the uprightness and sincerity of their hearts; from such the Lord will not withhold any good thing he has purposed for them, promised to them, or laid up for them in covenant; no spiritual good thing appertaining to life and godliness, and no temporal blessing that is good for them; he will deny them no good thing they ask of him, not anything that is good for them; and he will not draw back any good things he has bestowed on them, his gifts are without repentance.” (7) We are God’s chosen elect, his favored people. Are we not blessed beyond measure? “According to his great mercy, [God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Related Scripture: 1 Kings 3:11-12; Psalms 27:1, 4; 42:1-2; 63:1; 73:26; 119:81; Proverbs 2:7; Isaiah 45:24; Malachi 4:2-3; Matthew 5:6; 6:33; Mark 10:29-30; Romans 1:17; James 4:13-15.
- English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Psalm 84, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
- Stott, John, Favourite Psalms, Psalm 84, Candle Books, 1988, 2003.
- Keller, Timothy with Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, Psalm 84, Viking, New York, 2015.
- Keller, Ibid.
- Gill, John, John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Psalm 84:5-9, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-84.html
- C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, Harper One, 2017.
- Gill, Psalm 84:10-12, Ibid.
October 20, 2022