Psalm 84:2
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
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(2) Longeth.—From root meaning to grow pale, expressing one effect of strong emotion—grows pale with longing. So the Latin poets used pallidus to express the effects of passionate love, and generally of any strong emotion:

“Ambitione mala aut argenti pallet amore.”

HOR., Sat. ii. 3, 78.

Or we may perhaps compare Shakespeare’s

“Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

For a similar fervid expression of desire for communion with God, comp. Psalm 63:1.

Fainteth.—Or more properly, as LXX., faileth.

Courts.—This, too, seems, like tabernacles above, to be used in a general poetical way, so that there is no need to think of the court of the priests as distinguished from that of the people.

The living God.—Comp. Psalm 42:2, the only other place in the Psalms where God is so named.

84:1-7 The ordinances of God are the believer's solace in this evil world; in them he enjoys the presence of the living God: this causes him to regret his absence from them. They are to his soul as the nest to the bird. Yet they are only an earnest of the happiness of heaven; but how can men desire to enter that holy habitation, who complain of Divine ordinances as wearisome? Those are truly happy, who go forth, and go on in the exercise of religion, in the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, from whom all our sufficiency is. The pilgrims to the heavenly city may have to pass through many a valley of weeping, and many a thirsty desert; but wells of salvation shall be opened for them, and consolations sent for their support. Those that press forward in their Christian course, shall find God add grace to their graces. And those who grow in grace, shall be perfect in glory.My soul longeth - The word used here means properly to be pale; then, to be faint or weak; and then, to pine after, to long for, to desire earnestly. It would properly denote such a longing or desire as to make one faint or exhausted; that is, it indicates intense desire. In Psalm 17:12, it is applied to a hungry lion; "Like a lion that is greedy of its prey." In Genesis 31:30, it conveys the idea of intense desire: "Because thou sore longedst after thy father's house." For an illustration of the sentiment here expressed, see the notes at Psalm 42:1-2.

Yea, even fainteth - Is exhausted; fails of its strength. The word means properly to be completed, finished; then to be consumed, to be spent, to waste or pine away. Genesis 21:15; Jeremiah 16:4; Lamentations 2:11; Job 19:27.

For the courts of the Lord - The word used here refers to the different areas around the tabernacle or temple, within which many of the services of public worship were conducted, and which were frequented by different classes of persons. See the notes at Matthew 21:12.

My heart and my flesh - My whole nature; my body and my soul; all my desires and aspirations - all the longings of my heart are there. The body - the flesh - cries out for rest; the heart - the soul - for communion with God. Our whole nature demands the benefits which spring from the worship of God. Body and soul were made for his service, and the necessities of neither can be satisfied without religion.

Crieth out - The word used here - רנן rânan - means properly to give forth a tremulous sound; then, to give forth the voice in vibrations, or in a tremulous manner; and thence it may mean either to utter cries of joy, Leviticus 9:24; Job 38:7; Isaiah 12:6, or to utter a loud wail Lamentations 2:19. Its common application is to joy Psalm 98:4; Psalm 132:16; Psalm 65:8; and it might be rendered here, "Sing unto the Lord," or "Rejoice unto the Lord." The connection, however, seems to demand that it be understood as the cry of earnest longing or desire.

For the living God - God, the true God, considered as living, in contradistinction from idols, always spoken of as dead. Compare Psalm 63:1.

2. longeth—most intensely (Ge 31:30; Ps 17:12).

fainteth—exhausted with desire.

courts—as tabernacles (Ps 84:1)—the whole building.

crieth out—literally, "sings for joy"; but here, and La 2:19, expresses an act of sorrow as the corresponding noun (Ps 17:1; 61:2).

heart and … flesh—as in Ps 63:1.

Fainteth, or, is consumed, with grief for want of them, and with vehement desire to enjoy them, and with the deferring and disappointment of his hopes. See Proverbs 13:12.

For the courts; to enter into the outward court with the people, and to see what is done by the priests in the inner court, and to join with them in their religious exercises.

My heart and my flesh crieth out with a doleful cry, of which this word is used also Lamentations 2:19, which elsewhere and commonly signifies a joyful shout. The sense is, my soul and body are pained; or the passion of my heart maketh my tongue cry out.

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord,.... The courts of the tabernacle now at Gibeon, though the ark was in Zion, 2 Chronicles 1:3 as the court of the priests, and the court of the Israelites, in which latter the people in common stood: after these David longed; he longed to enter into them, and stand in them, and worship God there; which soul longings and hearty desires were the fruits and evidences of true grace, of being born again; so newly born souls desire the sincere milk of the word, and the breasts of Gospel ordinances, as a newly born babe desires its mother's milk and breast; and he even "fainted", through disappointment, or length of time, being impatient of the returning season and opportunity of treading in them; see Psalm 42:1,

my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God; he only inwardly desired, and secretly fainted, but audibly cried out in his distress, and verbally expressed, great vehemence, his desire to enjoy the living God: it was not merely the courts, but God in them, that he wanted; even that God which has life in himself, with whom is the fountain of life; who gives life to others, natural, spiritual, and eternal, and in whose favour is life; yea, whose lovingkindness is better than life, and which was the thing longed and thirsted after: and these desires were the desires of the whole man, soul and body; not only he cried with his mouth and lips, signified by his flesh, but with his heart also, sincerely and heartily; his heart went along with his mouth.

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

(b) For only the priests could enter the sanctuary and the rest of the people into the courts.

2. My soul hath pined, yea, even fainted. The verbs are perfects, and it seems best to suppose that he is recalling the earnest longings which are even now finding satisfaction, as his feet stand in the Temple courts, and his heart and flesh sing for joy unto the living God. The latter verb denotes joyous singing, such as that with which pilgrims enlivened their journey. Cp. Jeremiah 31:12; and the cognate substantive in Psalm 42:4. Soul, heart, and flesh, the emotions, the reason and the will, with the living organism of the body through which they act, make up the whole man. See Psalm 16:9; Psalm 73:26; and cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

the living God] The same phrase (El chay) as in Psalm 42:2. God Himself is the final object of desire: the Temple is only the means of realising His Presence.

Verse 2. - My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. These expressions do not imply that the writer is absent from the temple, but only that his delight in it is never satiated. My heart and my flesh; i.e. my whole nature. Crieth out for the living God; rather, rejoiceth; or "sings out a note of joy" unto the living God. So Hengstenberg, who says, "The verb רִנֵּן is of frequent occurrence in the Psalms, and always signifies to rejoice." Compare the comment of Professor Cheyne. Psalm 84:2How loved and lovely (ידידות) is the sacred dwelling-place (plur. as in Psalm 43:3) of the all-commanding, redemptive God, viz., His dwelling-place here below upon Zion! Thither the poet is drawn by the deeply inward yearning of love, which makes him pale (נכסף from כּסף, to grow pale, Psalm 17:12) and consumes him (כּלה as in Job 19:27). His heart and flesh joyfully salute the living God dwelling there, who, as a never-failing spring, quenches the thirst of the soul (Psalm 42:3); the joy that he feels when he throws himself back in spirit into the long-denied delight takes possession even of his bodily nature, the bitter-sweet pain of longing completely fills him (Psalm 63:2). The mention of the "courts" (with the exception of the Davidic Psalm 65:5, occurring only in the anonymous Psalms) does not preclude the reference of the Psalm to the tent-temple on Zion. The Tabernacle certainly had only one חצר; the arrangement of the Davidic tent-temple, however, is indeed unknown to us, and, according to reliable traces,

(Note: Vid., Knobel on Exodus, S. 253-257, especially S. 255.)

it may be well assumed that it was more gorgeous and more spacious than the old Tabernacle which remained in Gibeon. In Psalm 84:4 the preference must be given to that explanation which makes את־מזבּחותיך dependent upon מצאה, without being obliged to supply an intermediate thought like בּית (with hardening Dagesh like בּן, Genesis 19:38, vid., the rule at Psalm 52:5) and קן as a more definite statement of the object which the poet has in view. The altars, therefore, or (what this is meant to say without any need for taking את as a preposition) the realm, province of the altars of Jahve - this is the house, this the nest which sparrow and swallow have found for themselves and their young. The poet thereby only indirectly says, that birds have built themselves nests on the Temple-house, without giving any occasion for the discussion whether this has taken place in reality. By the bird that has found a comfortable snug home on the place of the altars of Jahve in the Temple-court and in the Temple-house, he means himself. צפּור (from צפר) is a general name for whistling, twittering birds, like the finch

(Note: Vid., Tobler, Denkbltter aus Jerusalem, 1853, S. 117.)

and the sparrow, just as the lxx here renders it. דּרור is not the turtle-dove (lxx, Targum, and Syriac), but the swallow, which is frequently called even in the Talmud צפור דרור ( equals סנוּנית), and appears to take its name from its straightforward darting, as it were, radiating flight (cf. Arabic jadurru of the horse: it darts straight forward). Saadia renders dûrı̂je, which is the name of the sparrow in Palestine and Syria (vid., Wetzstein's Excursus I). After the poet has said that his whole longing goes forth towards the sanctuary, he adds that it could not possibly be otherwise (גּם standing at the head of the clause and belonging to the whole sentence, as e.g., in Isaiah 30:33; Ewald, 352, b): he, the sparrow, the swallow, has found a house, a nest, viz., the altars of Jahve of Hosts, his King and his God (Psalm 44:5; Psalm 45:7), who gloriously and inaccessibly protects him, and to whom he unites himself with most heartfelt and believing love. The addition "where (אשׁר as in Psalm 95:9; Numbers 20:13) she layeth her young," is not without its significance. One is here reminded of the fact, that at the time of the second Temple the sons of the priests were called פּרחי כהנּה, and the Levite poet means himself together with his family; God's altars secure to them shelter and sustenance. How happy, blessed, therefore, are those who enjoy this good fortune, which he now longs for again with pain in a strange country, viz., to be able to make his home in the house of such an adorable and gracious God! עוד here signifies, not "constantly" (Genesis 46:29), for which תּמיד would have been used, but "yet," as in Psalm 42:6. The relation of Psalm 84:5 to Psalm 84:5 is therefore like Psalm 41:2. The present is dark, but it will come to pass even yet that the inmates of God's house (οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ, Ephesians 2:10) will praise Him as their Helper. The music here strikes in, anticipating this praise.

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