Examining our hearts (reflections on Psalm 84)

Its important to stop and assess where we are at in our lives. Psalm 84 has a lot to say as we examine our hearts and ensure that we are heading in the right direction.

The Psalmist starts by speaking of the dwelling places of God as the object of his desire (Ps 84:1-4). His “soul longed and even yearned” to be in the presence of God. His joy is in the Lord and he expresses this through worship.

The Psalmist doesn’t just know about God, but his expression reveals a depth of intimacy and desire. Those who dwell in the house of the Lord are “ever praising” Him.

Question 1: Is God the primary object of your desire or longing?

Psalm 84:3 speaks of the safety (“tender care”) that is found in Gods presence. We can come to Him in our weakness and vulnerability, just as a sparrow with her young.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Mt 11:28-30 NLT).

Question 2: Do you turn to God when you feel weak, vulnerable, fragile?

In Psalm 84 we read: “How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage (are the highways to Zion)” (Ps 84:4-5 NKJV).

The Psalmists heart is set on pilgrimage after God. Its not an easy journey, but he draws strength from God. As we continually pursue God in life we go from strength to strength.

He makes mention of the valley of Baca, which in Hebrew means “weeping.” He doesn’t say “if’ we pass through the valley of Baca, but when. We will all face difficult times, and maybe we’ve gone through the “valley of weeping” in the past year, but we must not lose heart. If God Himself is our “exceedingly great reward” there is no circumstance that can take us from Him.

Notice that in the valley of Baca it speaks of “making it a spring” and “the early rain that covers it (the valley) with blessings.” This speaks of both something we do and something God does.

In the hard places we can “make it” a spring (Hebrew: “lay hold of, set mind to, constitute, or take ones stand”) as we strengthen ourselves in the Lord.

David did this at Ziklag when he faced great trouble. “David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). This includes prayer, praise, worship, thanksgiving, and holding onto God despite the circumstances. David sought God’s leading about what to do. We are called to wait on the Lord (Is 40:27-31).

God brings the rain. God is faithful to meet us in our time of need with His blessings and provision.

Question 3: Do you find your strength in God regardless of circumstances?

The Psalmist finishes turning to God in prayer demonstrating trust (Ps 84:8-12). He uses covenantal language as a way of remembering what God has done in the past for the people of God. He declares that he wants God above all else and sees God as his source (shield, grace, glory) saying “NO GOOD THING DOES HE WITHHOLD from those who walk uprightly.” The Psalm finishes by saying that the man who trusts in God is blessed.

What I want to highlight for this last question is the prayer for God to: “look upon the face of your anointed.” This means “a consecrated person.” Jesus was the anointed “Messiah” who brought our salvation through His death and resurrection. Kings and priests in Scripture were anointed, set apart, for their tasks.

Peter writes: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (Ex 19:6; 1 Pt 2:9).

Believers are all part of the body of Christ, His church, and we each have a role as part of the “kingdom of priests.” What has God called you to in His kingdom purposes. What is He speaking to you (“now word”) as you go into the New Year?

Question 4: Are you trusting in God to bring you into His purposes for your life?

Consider your answer to each question. What steps are necessary in order to love God with “all your heart, mind, soul and strength” and “love your neighbour as yourself” in 2018?