The dwelling places of the Lord of armies were His temple and its courtyards. This is where God abode in a localized sense during this period of Israel"s history. He promised to meet with His people in a special way there, mainly through the mediation of the Levitical priests. The ordinary Israelite could not enter the temple building proper but could worship God in its courtyards.
1. Longing for the Lord"s presence84:1-4
This Psalm, like Psalm 42, 43, expresses the writer"s desire for the Lord"s sanctuary. It is one of the pilgrim or ascent psalms that the Israelites sang as they traveled to the sanctuary to worship God (cf. Psalm 120-134). In it, the unknown writer declared the blessed condition of those who go to the temple to pray to Yahweh. The sons of Korah were those who arranged and or sang this psalm in Israel"s public worship.
The psalmist considered the birds that made their nests in the temple and its courts as specially privileged since they were always near God and protected by Him. The priests also had a great advantage because they worked in the rooms surrounding the temple. They could praise God always because they were at the center of His worship.
"Three times he uses the word "Blessed", or "Happy": once wistfully (4), once resolutely (5), once in deep contentment (12). These can guide us in exploring the movement of the psalm." [Note: Kidner, Psalm 73-150, p303.]
2. Travelling to the temple84:5-7
The person who sets his or her heart on finding strength in the Lord experiences great blessing. Such a person looked forward to travelling to Mt. Zion to worship Him there. The word "baca" means "balsam trees." The Valley of the Balsam Trees was evidently an arid region that the writer used as an example of a spiritually dry state. The pilgrim whose heart anticipated temple worship joyfully found spiritual refreshment in situations others found parched. His spiritual experience was similar to the coming of the early spring rains on that valley"s waterless ground. Such a person becomes stronger and stronger spiritually as he or she draws closer and closer to God.
The pilgrim addressed God in prayer as he traveled. He interceded for the king, who was as a shield for the people, as well as the Lord"s anointed vice regent.
3. Praying on the way84:8-12
He valued standing and serving in the temple because there he could experience intimacy with God. He could occupy himself with Yahweh and His worship intensively. That is all people usually did in the temple. Consequently, wickedness was less prevalent there than anywhere else. God"s beneficent influence is sun-like, providing light and warmth on those below. He also protects those close to Him. He gives unmerited favor and divine enablement (grace) as well as honor (glory). He sends only good things to the lives of those who walk harmoniously with His will. Therefore the person who trusts Him experiences His blessing.
"The essence of godliness is in submissiveness to the Great King, who will grant his blessings to those who find their refuge in him ..." [Note: VanGemeren, p546.]
This psalm expresses the joy that comes through intimacy with God. In Israel, this took place in proximity to Yahweh"s localized presence in the temple. Today, it takes place as the believer trusts and obeys God as He has revealed His will in Scripture. There are degrees of intimacy. This psalm visualizes getting closer to God by approaching the temple. Some believers choose to live close to God, and others prefer to live further away from Him. Of course, unbelievers have no personal relationship with Him.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 84". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany