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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 84

Verse 1

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

Psalms 84:1-12.-Meditation on the blessedness of dwelling in God's house (Psalms 84:1-7); prayer on the ground that Yahweh giveth grace and glory to them that trust in Him (Psalms 84:8-12). The sons of Korah sang this psalm, as from the soul of David. Compare title with Psalms 84:9. They reminded him of the foundation of his hope, communion with God remaining to him though now fleeing from Absalom (cf. Psalms 84:1-4; Psalms 84:6; Psalms 84:9-10; Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 43:1-5; Psalms 63:1-11. Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 43:1-5 are Korahite 'Elohiym (H430) psalms, this is a Korahite Yahweh psalm.

To the chief Musician upon Gittith - (see Psalms 8:1-9, title, note.) It directs the chief Musician that the psalm should be sung afar the manner, or 'according to the harp of Gath.' This harp of Gath was used for psalms of a pleasant and joyful character. For it was usual to vary the instrument according to the strain of each psalm.

How amiable are thy tabernacles - Hebrew, 'How (much) loved (by me).' Psalms 84:2 expands this thought (cf. Psalms 27:4). The special reason of his love to the Lord's house here is, because in it there is refuge from all troubles (cf. Psalms 84:3 and Psalms 27:5). The plural "tabernacles" is used in reference to the different apartments of the one tabernacle (Psalms 43:3; Psalms 68:35), "Thy holy places."

Verse 2

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. "Courts" is a poetical plural for the one court, to which the general worhippers (as distinguished from the priests) had access; or the space before the sanctuary (Psalms 65:4; Psalms 92:13; Isaiah 1:12). The court is longed for by David as the meeting place of the congregation, the scene of the communion of saints. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house - having access to it both literally and spiritually (Psalms 84:4; Psalms 27:4).

They will be still praising thee. Even though they be for the time in suffering or exile (as I now am), they will yet be given by God occasion to praise Him, as in Psalms 50:15; Psalms 50:23 (Hengstenberg). Or, 'they are (and will be) still praising thee,' as I now no longer have the privilege of doing publicly, being an exile (Maurer). I prefer the latter view, as more consonant to the implied privation of access to the public praises of the sanctuary, which is the burden of David's complaint in Psalms 84:2,

Verses 5-7

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

-Second part of the First strophe. The rich consolation in God which belongs to believers, like David, even in trouble.

Verse 5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart (are) the ways (of them). Two conditions of blessedness:

(1) To have one's strength in God, and God as one's strength; to make no creaturely good, such as power, riches, cleverness, honours, our dependence.

(2) To have in one's heart God's sure ways-literally, 'in whose heart (are) embanked ways,' 'made roads,' 'streets;' i:e., the safe and secured ways of the Lord [ mªcilowt (H4546), from caalal (H5549), to raise; the raised causeways]. Though such a one is not permitted in body to go on the highways leading up to the city and temple of Jerusalem, yet he hath in his heart the highways leading to the spiritual temple - i:e., to secret communion with God. Compare Ezekiel 11:16.

Man's natural heart is a pathless wilderness; the Holy Spirit opens out in it the highways to God of repentance and faith. Compare Psalms 50:23, Hebrew, 'to him that prepareth a way will I show the salvation of God' (Proverbs 16:17; Isaiah 40:3-4). As Psalms 84:12, "blessed is the man that trusteth in thee," answers to Psalms 84:5, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee," so Psalms 84:11, "them that walk uprightly" (i:e., in the uprightness of faith, Habakkuk 2:4) corresponds to 'in whose heart are (God's sure) highways.'

Verse 6. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well. "The valley of Baca" - i:e., the vale of tears. A valley is an emblem of a sunken condition, such as was David's when suddenly cast down from the height of prosperity by the rebellion of his son Absalom. The old translators generally translate [ Baakaa' (H1056), as if it were baakaah (H1058)], 'the valley of weeping.' The Hebrew form, however, usually means a mulberry tree (2 Samuel 5:23-24 and margin, here). Celsus, in his "Sacred Botany," takes it a balsam shrub. The berry when pressed yields a juice like a tear-drop, whence it derives its name: the Latin bacca, a berry, may be akin to Baca. Still 'the valley of tree' will mean 'the valley of the tear-tree' or 'shrub.' But the probable sense is 'the valley of weeping' [the Hebrew letter 'aleph (') standing instead of the Hebrew letter he

(h) at the end]. Some think that the Baca grows only in dry places, and that the valley of Baca means a dry and parched valley; but there is no proof that this Baca tree grows only in dry places. The antithesis, however, to "make it a well," implies that the valley of Baca is regarded as a dry place spiritually. The only waters in it are the water of tears and weeping. Psalms 23:4 is the original passage: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," etc. (cf. Psalms 126:5). Burkhardt (2:, p. 977) mentions a Wady-Beka, or valley of weeping. David passed through such a valley of tears when, in his flight from Absalom, "he went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered; and he went barefoot, and all the people that was with him ... went up, weeping as they went up" (2 Samuel 15:30). As the valley of weeping of weeping symbolizes dejection, so a "well" symbolizes ever-flowing salvation and comfort (cf. John 4:14; also Isaiah 12:3).

The rain also filleth the pools - rather, as the Hebrew, 'the early (or autumnal) rain [ mowreh (H4175)] covereth it [ya`Teh] with blessings' [ bªraakowt (H1293)], which the English version confounds with [ bªreekowt (H1295)], pools, whose waters are increased with the blessing of rains. Some of the Rabbis, however, favour the English version, 'not only the wells, but even the pools are full of waters.' Jerome translates, 'the Teacher (as the Hebrew is translated, Isaiah 30:20) shall cover it with blessings;' similarly the Septuagint, 'the Legislator will give blessings.' Hengstenberg makes 'the Teacher' to be David, who not only had his strength in the Lord, and the ways of faith in his own heart, but also taught them to others (Psalms 62:8). But Joel 2:23 justifies the translation, 'the early rain;' the parallelism favours it.

Verse 7. They go from strength to strength - from one degree of strength to another. Not as margin, 'from company to company.'

Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God - after all their conflicts and sufferings are past (Revelation 7:14-15). Meanwhile, David sighs for restored access to the earthly tabernacle (Psalms 43:3), wherein the worshippers "appeared" or presented themselves, especially at the three great annual feasts, before God (Deuteronomy 16:16). Zechariah 14:16 represents the millennial appearing before God of Israel and the nations in the flesh.

Verse 8

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Give ear, O God of Jacob. This title implies a plea for being heard, on the ground of God's covenanted grace to the people of Jacob.

Verse 9

Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

Behold, O God our shield. In the Hebrew, "our shield" stands first for emphasis: all our hope of being shielded from the foe rests on thee: "behold," therefore, all the circumstances of our case, David uses the plural "our," not my, to imply that his people's safety is involved in his. And look upon the face of thine anointed - (cf. Psalms 132:10; Psalms 43:5). In looking upon the face of God's Anointed Son, the Father becomes "our shield" from Satan and all evil.

Verse 10

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand - i:e., better than a thousand elsewhere spent; namely, in the pleasures of sin and of the world (cf. Hebrews 11:24-26).

I had rather be a doorkeeper (or 'stop at the threshold') in the house of my God - i:e., If I cannot have a higher place, I feel the humblest place in the kingdom of God higher than the highest in the world.

Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. The habitations of the wicked, however stable and princely they look, are but shifting "tents;" whereas 'the tabernacle' of God, though externally made but of curtains as a tent, is nevertheless abiding as "the house of God" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1). "The tents of wickedness," as represented by the dwellings of Absalom and the seemingly successful rebels, were furnished with every outward attraction, yet David feels the lowest place of poverty and exile, with God's favour, infinitely preferable (cf. Psalms 4:7).

Verse 11

For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield. This assigns the reason why the favour of the Lord with poverty and exile is preferable to riches and home without God. For the Lord God ( Yahweh (H3068) 'Elohiym (H430)) is a sun to enlighten (Psalms 27:1; Isaiah 60:19-20; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 21:23), and a shield to protect on all sides. Faith has already laid hold of the answer to the prayer in Psalms 84:9, "Behold, O God our shield."

The Lord will give grace and glory - "grace" now, and "glory" hereafter: as in Christ's case the sufferings come first, accompanied with "grace" to bear them, the "glory" afterward and abidingly. On the contrary, the "glory" of the wicked man's house may now seem "increased," but "his glory shall not descend after him" when he dieth (Psalms 49:16-17).

No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly - in the uprightness of faith (Habakkuk 2:4); in sincerity toward God and integrity toward man (Psalms 15:2).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 84". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-84.html. 1871-8.