02.14.23 | Psalm 84



Through February we are going to stay right here in Psalm 84


How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
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.

10 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.
11 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.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

The psalmist longs for the presence of God. The word used here for longing carries with it a sense of absence. “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord,” he writes. The psalmist looks with holy jealousy at the birds who are able to build their nest at the altar. He dreams of making his home in God’s presence like the sparrows and swallows. 

God, of course, longs to dwell among us. From the beginning (Genesis 2) when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. At the end (Revelation 21:3) a voice from the throne will rejoice that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people.” At the center of history, the infinite God took on human flesh and came to dwell among us (John 1:14) and soon thereafter, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made it possible for the infinite God to make his dwelling in human hearts. 

Sadly however, so many of us have had such limited experience with the presence of God. We dabble in his presence. We rarely dream as the Psalmist does of living in unbroken communion with God. We are unaware that it is possible for him to flood our hearts and our lives with his glory. 

One of the hallmarks of every revival is a return of God’s manifest, royal presence to the church. And to the human hearts within the church. And this happens when God’s people begin longing for his presence and asking for his presence, and cleaning out our hearts to make room for his presence. 

The driving principle behind every revival is this: God comes where he is wanted. His presence, like a helicopter, comes down wherever people have cleared a landing pad. He will pass over 99 lukewarm Christians to touch a heart that is longing for him. He will pass over 99 churches to find one where his presence is wanted. During the 1949 revival in the Hebrides in Scotland, God literally touched every town on the island except the town of Stornaway. That is because the two pastors in that town resisted and critiqued the revival. God skipped over that town. 

This Psalm is in the scripture to show us what a heart that wants God’s presence looks like. Better is one day in God’s courts than a thousand elsewhere. And if we want renewal and the glory and presence of God in our lives, the main question is this. Do we long for God’s presence? God can do more in a day, to renew a heart, a family, a church, a city, even a nation when he shows up than in decades of humans laboring in their own strength. The question is do we want him to show up? 

For Reflection

Read through the Psalm. 

  • What strikes you? Notice the Psalmist’s heart toward God and his presence. How does it compare with your own? What are the other lesser loves in our lives that compete with our love and longing for Jesus to take up residence in our hearts?
  • What rooms and places in our hearts and lives do we need to prepare for Jesus? So that he can feel at home in our hearts and lives? Ask the Spirit to reveal to you how to be a host to Jesus?

For Prayer

  • Begin to pray phrases of this Psalm that stand out to you. Consider praying these ideas in your own words. 
  • Ask God to reveal to you the beauty of his presence and its worth and value in comparison to the other things we love and long for. 
  • Ask God to stir up holy hunger and longing for his presence. Ask God to for this heart cry: “God we want you here!” In your life, in your family, in the church, in Providence.

Next Steps

  • Where in your life is God asking you to carve a highway to Zion – a pathway into his presence? What is your next step to say yes to that?
  • If there are lesser loves in your life that are competing with Jesus for your affections…confess this to someone and ask God to rearrange and reorder your desires and longings!