Psalm 84 My Soul Longs for the Courts of the LORD To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. (1) How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! (2) My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. (3) 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. (4) Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah (5) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. (6) As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. (7) They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. (8) O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah (9) Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! (10) 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. (11) 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. (12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! ESV
The NKJV titles Psalm 84: the Blessedness of Dwelling in the House of God. To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
Do you recognize some of these words? What a beautiful song.
Gittith or On an instrument of Gath is a musical term of some sorts. No one knows the meaning for sure. What we can see is that the song was to be played on an instrument or a melody from the people of Gath. Gath was a pagan city of the Philistines; king David spent some time there, and actually the infamous warrior Goliath was from this city.
The sons of Korah wrote this song possibly during David’s time. Bible scholars believe it has a Davidic feel to it, but there are no specific references that allow us to know for sure. The words have deep meaning for anyone at any point of life. Remember Korah (Numbers 16) led a rebellion against Moses. God destroyed them, however, there were sons and daughters who continued to tell God’s story and seem to live from that point on as a family praising the Lord throughout time for redemption and mercy.
Charles Spurgeon (English preacher, 1834-1892) called this the “Pearl of Psalms” and the “most sweet of the Psalms of peace” in his sermon on Psalm 84.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven's Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven's Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude Psalm 84:1-4 NLT
“Dwelling place” is translated as “tabernacle” in some versions.
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! NKJV
The use of the term tabernacle rather than temple possibly dates this to David’s time. Solomon built the temple, and prior to that, the people of Israel worshipped God in the temporary and moveable tent, called the tabernacle. Although it is possible that the writer was referring to the “old way,” which is why scholars are hesitant to use this idea to date this psalm with surety.
Does your soul long for God?
Each of us has a place in our hearts specifically for God, even unbelievers or those who have not met the Lord yet. God created us that way; He created us with the intention that we would live in communion with Him. Those who do not or choose not to fill this hole with other things.
But make no mistake that void was made for and only can be filled with a relationship with the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, our LORD and our God.
And some day when our walk in this life in over and we are called home, we will stand beside and walk with God in the way that we were created to. We are voyagers passing through. We are forced to stop for a time in this life, to share the love of God with others and to love and serve all in our path, and then we are called to our true home.
What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. O LORD God of Heaven's Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob. Interlude. Psalm 84:5-8 NLT
The pilgrims to the heavenly city may have to pass through many a valley of weeping, and many a thirsty desert; but wells of salvation shall be open for them, and consolations sent for their support. Those that press forward in the Christian course, shall find God adds grace to their graces. And those who grow in grace, shall be perfect in glory.Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
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 through strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7 NIV
The Valley of Baka or Baca is a term that means tears or weeping or drought. No one is sure of its exact meaning except the feeling is clear: as we pass through despair or sadness or trials, God provides the Life Water of His son, Jesus.
As around a well men meet and converse cheerfully, being refreshed after their journey, so even in the vale of tears, or any other dreary glen, the pilgrims to the skies find sweet solace in brotherly communion and in anticipation of the general assembly above, with its joys unspeakable.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
God gives us what we need, even in trying times. We can go from “strength to strength” as He promises to never leave us.
O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield! Show favor to the one you have anointed. A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O LORD of Heaven's Armies, what joy for those who trust in you. Psalm 84:9-12 NLT
The Psalmist calls for blessings upon his king. In ancient times, the king and his men and his decisions protected the people. If he was a good king, his people prayed to God to uplift and strengthen him. Other versions speak of God as the shield of protection. Maybe the author meant David or Solomon as “thine anointed” or maybe he meant Jesus, the Savior.
Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. verse 9 KJV
But then the author goes on to describe the house of the Lord in such a beautiful way. A single day spent with Jesus is better than a thousand spent in the most luxurious space that Satan owns. We must remember this when the road ahead looks more “comfortable” than the one that points to our God. Even standing in the doorway of God’s house is better than a lifetime of seeming luxury in the house of wickedness.
God’s doorstep is a happier rest than downy couches within the pavilions of royal sinners, though we might lie there for a lifetime of luxury.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
God is our sun and our shield, both necessary on the pilgrim’s journey. A man or woman travelling a great distance must stay warm, they must have light for their path, and they must have a way to protect themselves. The author is announcing that God is both our warmth and light, and our protection. He is all we need on our journey through this life. He will provide.
Oh Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You! NKJV
Father in heaven, we are so very blessed to spend time with you and to be able to call you, our Father. You are good and faithful. Your love endures forever. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Thank you for the promise that we will spend thousands with you. Thank you for our shield and our sun on this journey through the life you have called us to on earth. Amen.