Verses 1-4 How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.
Question: Do you long for the courts of God - the place where He is worshipped?
The psalmist remembered the place of worship - i.e. here the temple. He LONGED and YEARNED for God. His heart and flesh sang for joy to the living God! He considered those who were there blessed as they were ever praising God there!
Does this describe us as we consider worship - as we consider gathering with God’s people each Sunday. Yes, I know this referred to the Temple and to worship there - but is not worship with the saints the nearest equivalent to it? Do we LONG and YEARN for those times? Do we consider those who are singing and praising God to be so very blessed?
I don’t know about you as you read this - but I was rebuked and realized that this did not - and even now does not describe how I approach worship with the saints. But by God’s grace - and some serious repentance it WILL NOT be how I approach this coming Sunday with all of you as we meet to seek God.
Verses 5-7 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
Question: How do you walk out of and back into the place of worship?
The psalmist speaks of how we walk out of the worship of God - and how we walk through the world as a result of it. What the psalmist is saying here is that as we walk through worship - God makes our hearts strong so He can walk through us into our world as we depart.
There are “highways to Zion” in the true worshipper’s heart. The worship of God in the temple led to a heart where there was a highway to God. Zion refers to Jerusalem - the place where they went to corporately worship God - and seek Him - and know Him - and even be made right with Him when they sinned.
Here is how practical this gets. The worshipper of God passes through life - here it is called the “valley of Baca.” The word “Baca” means weeping or troublesome place. What is said about it is that the one who worships God - and in whose heart a highway to Zion is laid as a result - they take the valley of trouble and weeping and turn it into a spring where the water wells up and bubbles out of the earth.
Does your worship lead you to walk through your week with a highway to God in your heart. Does it lead to a highway where you can see God take even your most troublesome moments - your weeping moments - and turn them to a spring of water?
Does your worship lead you to go from “strength to strength” as you walk in the world? The picture here is that of God strengthening you for the week ahead - that you may face difficulty and sorrow - even trials and troubles - but you go from event to event in God’s strengthening. That highway to Zion is there so that you can run to the Lord and receive His strength to handle these things. Is this true of you?
The end of this section is that as they go from strength to strength - they eventually appear before God in Zion again. This is a picture of that HIGHWAY again - we are learning to live a life that turns to God! And - even as we walk it - we are led again and again to return to seek God afresh and anew.
Is this true of us? When I looked at this - again I was reminded to repent and return to
Him. That IS what I want - a worship so focused that I turn to Him for strength to strength as I walk through this world - and that I return to Zion again to worship Him all over again - because He is so good and so faithful.
Verses 8-12 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Question: Do we consider a single day with God better than a thousand anywhere else?
The psalmist prays and desires God’s answer. He desires to see God’s face (know His favor). He states that a single day in the courts of God in worship and seeking and hearing Him - is better than a 1000 spent anywhere else. If the place of worship and seeking God with His people is a 1000 times better than anywhere else in the world - how do you think we would think about worship?
The psalmist also considers God as the sun which shines on him - the shield which protects him - He recounts God giving him grace and glory. He contemplates the good that God has given him. His eventual thought is that God does not withhold any good thing from the ones who walk with Him uprightly.
His finishing statement is that the man who trusts God - is indeed blessed.
Do I walk away from worship corporately with the saints - and think - HANDS DOWN THIS IS A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE!
I had to face this psalm with a good bit of red-faced embarrassment. But it was not something that happened that was bad - it was wonderful! I was reminded of how it should be - and what it can be if I come and approach worship with the saints before God as an amazing - wonderful - amazing thing. My hope is that with the repentance this psalm has offered me from God - I will respond - and that my view of the worship of God with His people in the church will be greatly elevated. It is my hope I will see it as a thousand times better than anything else imaginable.