Psalm 84: Traveling to the Dwelling Place of God
Author: Stephen Seely
On February 9th 2005, I asked Valerie to marry me while we were in Thailand for a conference. The evening of our engagement we also had to say goodbye - as I remained for another week and a half and she began a travel that would take her back to the city in China where we both lived. I have to tell you that my heart had a yearning to get to the day of my return flight and cover those miles back to where my fiancé was waiting!
In Psalm 84, the writer’s heart is set on traveling to God’s earthly temple for worship. He cannot stop thinking about gathering with other worshippers at the Jerusalem temple dedicated to the worship of His wonderful Lord. In verse five, he says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”
Notice the blessing isn’t confined to getting to the destination—it’s also for those who have set their hearts on making the journey to be where their God dwells.
The dynamic has shifted for the New Testament believer who sets their heart on getting to Zion. New Testament believers have the privilege of personally BEING a temple in whom God’s Spirit dwells (1 Cor 3:16). Yet even as wonderful as it is being a residence for the Lord, we also long to see Him face to face. We set our sights not on an earthly temple, but on seeing Christ in the New Jerusalem itself!
I can sense the yearning in Paul’s heart to move from the present state to that of being with Christ face to face when he writes Philippians 1:21-23. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better…” It’s easy to see Paul was no stranger to a heart within which were “the highways to Zion” - the heavenly Zion!
I hope you are seeing that, like my yearning for being in the same city as my Valerie, it’s the “who” at the end of the journey that makes the journey itself blessed. Are you experiencing the blessing of the heart of a pilgrim that is headed for a home on high? It’s directly proportional to the extent you love the One to which this life is speeding you towards. Take a look through Psalm 84 and notice all the things that the psalmist savors about the Lord. There is so much to love about Him! The more we know of His power (LORD of hosts, living God, a sun and shield) and His love (welcomes the least of us/sparrows, bestows favor, withholds no good thing from the righteous) the more we trust in Him and enjoy the blessing of those who do (v. 12).
Where is your heart headed today? Do you long for Him and the place where His glory dwells?
It’s easy to become distant from the One who loves us best and whom we profess to love. In verse two and in verse four it speaks of the joy and blessing of those who sing praise to the living God. Singing is one way to exchange a dry place for the refreshing place - that a heart focused on God and the reunion that is ahead - can become.
I invite you to sing a song that we are learning as a Main Street Baptist family in the month of February. A song like this can remind us of who we love and to whom we are travelling while on this life’s pilgrim pathway. Enjoy the lyrics and then sing along (link to the music video included below).
On Jordan's stormy banks I stand And cast a wishful eye To Canaan's fair and happy land Where my possessions lie All o'er those wide extended plains Shines one eternal day There God the Son forever reigns And scatters night away [Chorus] I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land [Verse 2] No chilling wind nor poisonous breath Can reach that healthful shore Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death Are felt and feared no more [Chorus] I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land [Verse 3] When shall I see that happy place And be forever blessed? When shall I see my Father's face And in His bosom rest? [Chorus] I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promise land