Theme: Living by Faith
In this week’s lessons we are reminded of the need to long after God, who delights in his people as they trust in him.
Scripture: Psalm 84:1-12
We can look at Psalm 84 in light of a three-part outline based on the three progressive blessings or beatitudes found in verses 4, 5, and 12. As we saw in yesterday’s study, the first is for those who live and work in the temple; and the second is for those who are on their way to it, for pilgrims. Today we look at the third, which is for those who cannot get to the temple but who place their faith in God.
3. Those who trust God (v. 12). The third blessing occurs at the end of the psalm and is for those who trust God: “O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you” (v. 12).
I suppose the greatest mistake we can make in looking at this psalm or any of the psalms that are like it (for example, Psalms 27, 42, 43) is to suppose that when the writers express their passionate longing for the house of God all they are thinking of is the building or possibly the festivals that occurred there. It is true that these ancient writers were thinking of the building and the festivals, and thus in a physical manner that is always just a bit foreign to us even in our most “down to earth” moods. We cannot associate the worship of God with our particular church structure, as they seem to have done. But we misunderstand these writers if we suppose that all they were thinking about was the building. Actually, their true delight was in God, which is why, in spite of the earlier open passionate pining for God’s house, the psalm ends with blessing for the person who simply trusts God. It is a way of saying that in the final analysis this is what truly matters and what life is about.
It is why the verse immediately before this does not speak about the temple, even though the writer says he would rather be a doorkeeper there than dwell in the tents of the wicked, just a verse before that. The verse is about God and his attributes. This is the only place in the Bible where God is explicitly called “a sun.” It is because he shines on us and is the brightness of our days. Moreover, he is a shield from our foes and the only possible source of favor and true honor. The last part of verse 11 (“no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless”) is a close equivalent of Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”).
So let us learn to seek God—in the company of his people, the church, and by looking toward heaven. I mention the church first, because God has promised to meet us there. Jesus said, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). If you want to learn about God and come to know God personally, start with church. It is why we meet together. But I also say heaven, because ultimately it is God himself we long for and in whom alone we will be satisfied, not the fellowship of God’s people, however rewarding that may be. Maclaren says, “If we want rest, let us clasp God as ours; if we desire a home warm, safe, sheltered from every wind that blows, and inaccessible to enemies, let us, like the swallows, nestle under the eaves of the Temple. Let us take God for our hope.”1
1Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vol. 3, The Psalms, Isaiah 1-48, p. 128.
Explain the longing for the house of God, and why we can make a mistake in understanding it.
What images are used for God in verse 11? What do the images convey?
Reflection: In what ways do you need to grow in your longing for God and to trust in him?
For Further Study: As we think about the dwelling place of God, we know that it is God himself for whom we long, and in whom we trust. To help us reflect on God and his attributes, particularly his glory, download and listen for free to Bryan Chapell’s message, “God’s Glory Revealed.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)