Psalm 84 — Better Is One Day In Your Courts
Psalm 84:1-12 NIV
The key verse of this beautiful psalm is verse 10. Is there a place we yearn to go to more than anywhere else else? Where or what do we crave for? A dream place we want to migrate to? Or a perfect job? There is nothing wrong in desiring a good job and giving the glory to God. But we must also remember that we are in a spiritual war, and know who our spiritual enemy is.
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.
The Psalmists admired the Temple of God and proclaimed how inexpressibly lovely it was. Their souls yearned to be in the Temple, and their hearts and flesh cried out to God. They wrote that even the birds wanted a place near God’s altar and expressed how spiritually happy (blessed) they would be if they could dwell in God’s house too.
God’s Temple today is not made of bricks and stone, but right within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Do we yearn to pray to God and read His words, so that we may dwell in His presence? Does this describe our current spiritual state? If not, why? How can we develop the immense desire that these Psalmists have to be near God?
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.
Those who find strength in God and whose hearts were "set on pilgrimage" are spiritually happy (blessed).
The Valley of Baka was also known as the Valley of Weeping. It was a place the Jews passed through as they made their thrice-yearly pilgrimages to the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
We can imagine how challenging and time consuming it was back in those days to make those regular trips. Amongst those on the journey, some had their hearts set on the pilgrimage but some had hearts that were not ready. Those whose hearts were set on God went from strength to strength, “till each appears before God in Zion”.
Which one describes us today? Do we look for strength in God when we face challenges seeking Him? We can find going to church a drag and reading the Bible a chore if our hearts aren’t set on God. Let’s be honest, these are the times when we need God most. We need to find strength in God to help us get our hearts back. God understands the difficulties we face. He will bring springs and rains even when our valleys are dry and weary. Do not give up.
Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on Your anointed one.
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.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You.
The Psalmists asked God to listen to their prayers and to look on their shields. We need to be prepared for a spiritual war.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16 NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV)
Our faith in God is our shield against all attacks from the evil one. Our spiritual struggle isn’t purely a result of our own weaknesses, but also because of a constant barrage of arrows from the devil. That’s why we need to put on the shield of faith. God looks with favour on Jesus, His anointed one, and has given us new birth into a living hope through Jesus. The war has been won by Jesus, and we only need to put on our shield to face our battles in life.
“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.” The Psalmists describe the inexplicable joy of being able to be near God. They also made a comparison to the dread of staying with the wicked. What matters most is not how many days we have, or how comfortable is the place or situation we’re in. Being in God’s presence beats everything else.
When we were younger, we were gullible enough to believe that the world is safe. There is nowhere safe, and we need the protection of God. He will not withhold good things from those whose walk is blameless. This psalm is not telling us to run away from threats, but to seek God’s shelter, trusting in His protection. “Blessed is the one who trusts in You (God).”
We will be fine, as long as we have the shield of faith. Trust in God, we will survive the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let’s set our hearts on the best place to be at — God’s presence.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.