Psalm 84:3
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Sparrow.—Heb., tsippôr, which is found up-wards of forty times in the Old Testament, and is evidently used in a very general way to include a great number of small birds. “Our common house- sparrow is found on the coast in the towns, and inland its place is taken by a very closely-allied species, Passer Cisalpina” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 202).

Swallow.—Heb. derôr, which by its etymology implies a bird of rapid whirling flight. (See Proverbs 26:2, where this characteristic is especially noticed.) The ancient versions take the word as cognate with “turtle-dove.” In an appendix to Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Psalms, Dr. J. G. Wetzstein, identifies the tsippôr with the ôsfur of the Arabs, a generic name for small chirping birds, and derôr with dûri. which is specific of the sparrow.

Even thy altars.—Better, at or near thine altars, though even if taken as in the Authorised “Version the meaning is the same. There is no real occasion for the great difficulty that has been made about this verse. It is absurd indeed to think of the birds actually nesting on the altars; but that they were found in and about the Temple is quite probable, just as in Herodotus (i. 159) we read of Aristodicus making the circuit of the temple at Branchidæ, and taking the nests of young sparrows and other birds. (Comp. the story in Ælian of the man who was slain for harming a sparrow that had sheltered in the temple of Æsculapius.) Ewald gives many other references, and among them one to Burckhardt showing that birds nest in the Kaaba at Mecca.

The Hebrew poetic style is not favourable to simile, or the psalmist would have written (as a modern would), “As the birds delight to nest at thine altars, so do I love to dwell in thine house.”

Psalms

SPARROWS AND ALTARS

Psalm 84:3
.

The well-known saying of the saintly Rutherford, when he was silenced and exiled from his parish, echoes and expounds these words. ‘When I think,’ said he, ‘upon the sparrows and swallows that build their nests in the kirk of Anwoth, and of my dumb Sabbaths, my sorrowful, bleared eyes look asquint upon Christ, and present Him as angry.’ So sighed the Presbyterian minister in his compelled idleness in a prosaic seventeenth-century Scotch town, answering his heart’s-brother away back in the far-off time, and in such different circumstances. The Psalmist was probably a member of the Levitical family of the Sons of Korah, who were ‘doorkeepers in the house of the Lord.’ He knew what he was saying when he preferred his humble office to all honours among the godless. He was shut out by some unknown circumstances from external participation in the Temple rites, and longs to be even as one of the swallows or sparrows that twitter and flit round the sacred courts. No doubt to him faith was much more inseparably attached to form than it should be for us. No doubt place and ritual were more to him than they can permissibly be to those who have heard and understood the great charter of spiritual worship spoken first to an outcast Samaritan of questionable character: ‘Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall men worship the Father.’ But equally it is true that what he wanted was what the outward worship brought him, rather than the worship itself. And the psalm, which begins with ‘longing’ and ‘fainting’ for the courts of the Lord, and pronouncing benedictions on ‘those that dwell in Thy house,’ works itself clear, if I might so say, and ends with ‘O Lord of Hosts! Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee’-for he shall ‘dwell in Thy house,’ wherever he is. So this flight of imagination in the words of my text may suggest to us two or three lessons.

I. I take it first as pointing a bitter and significant contrast.

‘The sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself,’ while I! We do not know what the Psalmist’s circumstances were, but if we accept the conjecture that he may have accompanied David in his flight during Absalom’s rebellion, we may fancy him as wandering on the uplands across Jordan, and sharing the agitations, fears, and sorrows of those dark hours, and in the midst of all, as the little company hurried hither and thither for safety, thinking, with a touch of bitter envy, of the calm restfulness and serene services of the peaceful Temple.

But, pathetic as is the complaint, when regarded as the sigh of a minister of the sanctuary exiled from the shrine which was as his home, and from the worship which was his occupation and delight, it sounds a deeper note and one which awakens echoes in our hearts, when we hear in it, as we may, the complaint of humanity contrasting its unrest with the happier lot of lower creatures. Do you remember who it was that said-and on what occasion He said it-’Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have roosting-places, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head’? That saying, like our text, has a narrower and a wider application. In the former it pathetically paints the homeless Christ, a wanderer in a land peculiarly ‘His own,’ and warns His enthusiastic would-be follower of the lot which he was so light-heartedly undertaking to share. But when Jesus calls Himself ‘Son of Man,’ He claims to be the realised ideal of humanity, and when, as in that saying, He contrasts the condition of ‘the Son of Man’ with that of the animal creation, we can scarcely avoid giving to the words their wider application to the same contrast between man’s homelessness and the creatures’ repose which we have found in the Psalmist’s sigh.

Yes! There is only one being in this world that does not fit the world that he is in, and that is man, chief and foremost of all. Other beings perfectly correspond to what we now call their ‘environment.’ Just as the soft mollusc fits every convolution of its shell, and the hard shell fits every curve of the soft mollusc, so every living thing corresponds to its place and its place to it, and with them all things go smoothly. But man, the crown of creation, is an exception to this else universal complete adaptation. ‘The earth, O Lord! is full of Thy mercy,’ but the only creature who sees and says that is the only one who has further to say, ‘I am a stranger on the earth.’ He and he alone is stung with restlessness and conscious of longings and needs which find no satisfaction here. That sense of homelessness may be an agony or a joy, a curse or a blessing, according to our interpretation of its meaning, and our way of stilling it. It is not a sign of inferiority, but of a higher destiny, that we alone should bear in our spirits the ‘blank misgivings’ of those who, amid unsatisfying surroundings, have blind feelings after ‘worlds not realised,’ which elude our grasp. It is no advantage over us that every fly dancing in the treacherous gleams of an April sun, and every other creature on the earth except ourselves, on whom the crown is set, is perfectly proportioned to its place, and has desire and possessions absolutely conterminous.

‘The son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ Why must he alone wander homeless on the bleak moorland, whilst the sparrows and the swallows have their nests and their houses? Why? Because they are sparrows and swallows, and he is man, and ‘better than many sparrows.’ So let us lay to heart the sure promises, the blessed hopes, the stimulating exhortations, which come from that which, at first sight, seems to be a mystery and half an arraignment of the divine wisdom, in the contrast between the restlessness of humanity and the reposeful contentment of those whom we call the lower creatures. Be true to the unrest, brother! and do not mistake its meaning, nor seek to still it, until it drives you to God.

II. These words bring to us a plea which we may use, and a pledge on which we may rest.

‘Thine altars, O Lord of hosts! my King and my God.’ The Psalmist pleads with God, and lays hold for his own confidence upon the fact that creatures which do not understand what the altar means, may build beside it, and those which have no notion of who the God is to whom the house is sacred, are yet cared for by Him. And he thinks to himself, ‘If I can say “My King and my God,” surely He that takes care of them will not leave me uncared for.’ The unrest of the soul that is capable of appropriating God is an unrest which has in it, if we understand it aright, the assurance that it shall be stilled and satisfied. He that is capable of entering into the close personal relationship with God which is expressed by that eloquent little pronoun and its reduplication with the two words, ‘King’ and ‘God’-such a creature cannot cry for rest in vain, nor in vain grope, as a homeless wanderer, for the door of the Father’s house.

‘Doth God care for oxen; or saith He it altogether for our sakes?’ ‘Consider the fowls of the air; your heavenly Father feedeth them.’ And the same argument which the Apostle used in the one of these sayings, and our Lord in the other, is valid and full of encouragement when applied to this matter. He that ‘satisfies the desires of every living thing,’ and fills full the maw of the lowest creature; and puts the worms into the gaping beak of the young ravens when they cry, is not the King to turn a deaf ear, or the back of His hand, to the man who can appeal to Him with this word on his lips, ‘My King and my God!’ We grasp God when we say that; and all that we see of provident recognition and supply of wants in dealings with these lower creatures should encourage us to cherish calm unshakable confidence that every true desire of our souls after Him is as certain to be satisfied.

And so the glancing swallows around the eaves of the Temple and the twittering sparrows on its pinnacles may proclaim to us, not only a contrast which is bitter, but a confidence which is sweet. We may be sure that we shall not be left uncared for amongst the many pensioners at His table, and that the deeper our wants the surer we are of their supply. Our bodies may hunger in vain-bodily hunger has no tendency to bring meat; but our spirits cannot hunger in vain if they hunger after God; for that hunger is the sure precursor and infallible prophet of the coming satisfaction.

These words not only may hearten us with confidence that our desires will be satisfied if they are set upon Him, but they point us to the one way by which they are so. Say ‘My King and my God!’ in the deepest recesses of a spirit conscious of His presence, of a will submitting to His authority, of emptiness expectant of His fulness; say that, and you are in the house of the Lord. For it is not a question of place, it is a question of disposition and desire. This Psalmist, though, when he began his song, he was far away from the Temple, and though he finished it sitting on the same hillside on which he began it, when he had ended it was within the curtains of the sanctuary and wrapt about with the presence of his God. He had regained as he sang what for a moment he had lost the consciousness of when he began-viz. the presence of God with him on the lone, dreary expanse of alien soil as truly as amidst the sanctities of what was called His House.

So, brethren! if we want rest, let us clasp God as ours; if we desire a home warm, safe, sheltered from every wind that blows, and inaccessible to enemies, let us, like the swallows, nestle under the eaves of the Temple. Let us take God for our Hope. They that hold communion with Him-and we can all do that wherever we are and whatever we may be doing-these, and only these, ‘dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of their lives.’ Therefore, with deepest simplicity of expression, our psalm goes on to describe, as equally recipients of blessedness, ‘those that dwell in the house of the Lord,’ and those in ‘whose heart are the ways’ that lead to it, and to explain at last, as I have already pointed out, that both the dwellers in, and the pilgrims towards, that intimacy of abiding with God are included in the benediction showered on those who cling to Him, ‘Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee!’

III. Lastly, we may take this picture of the Psalmist’s as a warning.

Sparrows and swallows have very small brains. They build their nests, and they do not know whose altars they are flitting around. They pursue the insects on the wing, and they twitter their little songs; and they do not understand how all their busy, glancing, brief, trivial life is being lived beneath the shadow of the cherubim, and all but in the presence of the veiled God of the Shekinah.

There are too many people who live like that. We are all tempted to build our nests where we may lay our young, or dispose of ourselves or our treasures in the very sanctuary of God, with blind, crass indifference to the Presence in which we move. The Father’s house has many mansions, and wherever we go we are in God’s Temple. Alas! some of us have no more sense of the sanctities around us, and no more consciousness of the divine Eye that looks down upon us, than if we were so many feathered sparrows flitting about the altar.

Let us take care, brethren! that we give our hearts to be influenced, and awed, and ennobled, and tranquillised by the sense of ever more being in the house of the Lord. Let us see to it that we keep in that house by continual aspiration, cherishing in our hearts the ways that lead to it; and so making all life worship, and every place what the pilgrim found the stone of Bethel to be, a house of God and a gate of heaven. For everywhere, to the eye that sees the things that are, and not only the things that seem-and to the heart that feels the unseen presence of the One Reality, God Himself-all places are temples, and all work may be beholding His beauty and inquiring in His sanctuary; and everywhere, though our heads rest upon a stone, and there be night and solitude around us, and doubt and darkness in front of us, and danger and terror behind us, and weakness within us, as was the case with Jacob, there will be the ladder with its foot at our side and its top in the heavens; and above the top of it His face, which when we see it look down upon us, makes all places and circumstances good and sweet.

Psalm 84:3. Yea, the sparrow hath found a house — That is, a habitation, namely, a nest, as it follows. Even thine altar — Or nigh thine altar, as the Hebrew particle, את, eth, often signifies, and is rendered by the Seventy and the Chaldee, Jdg 4:11. In the Hebrew it is altars, namely, that of burnt-offerings, and the other of incense: near which these birds might be truly said to have their nests, if, as is probable, they were either in some part of the tabernacle or temple, in which the altars were; or in some buildings belonging to or near them. Thus Bishop Patrick understands the verse, whose paraphrase is, “It grieves me, O mighty Lord, whose subject I am, and infinitely engaged for thee, to see the very birds, who know nothing of thee, enjoy that liberty which is denied me; who am here lamenting my distance from thee, when the sparrows and the ring-doves” (Hebrew, דרור, deror, which the Seventy render τρυγων, a turtle, and others a wild-pigeon) “have their constant residence at thy house; and there live so undisturbed, that they build their nests, and bring forth their young in the rafters of it.” The passage, however, is interpreted somewhat differently by several expositors, who read it thus: My heart, &c., crieth out for the living God, (yea, as a sparrow, till she finds a house, and a swallow a nest for herself, where to lay her young,) for thine altars, &c., that is, my heart, &c., crieth out for thine altars, &c. Or thus, “The sparrow findeth a house, &c., but when shall I find access to what I far prefer to a house of my own, the house of God?” Others again read, Even as the sparrow, that is, with the same joy and delight as the sparrow findeth her house, and the swallow (or wild-pigeon) her nest, where she hath laid (so שׁתה, shata, properly means) her young; so should I find thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. This last seems the most just and easy exposition of the words. But whichsoever of the interpretations may be preferred, “the design of the passage,” as Dr. Horne has justly observed, “is evidently to intimate to us, that in the house, and at the altar of God, a faithful soul findeth freedom from care and sorrow, quiet of mind, and gladness of spirit; like a bird that has secured a little mansion for the reception and education of her young. And there is no heart endued with sensibility which doth not bear its testimony to the exquisite beauty and propriety of this affecting image.”

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.Yea, the sparrow hath found an house - A home; a place where she may abide, and build her nest, and rear her young. The word here used - צפור tsippôr - is a name given to a bird from its chirping or twittering. It is rendered sparrow in Leviticus 14:4 (margin); Psalm 102:7; and is often rendered bird (Genesis 7:14; Genesis 15:10, et al.), and fowl, Deuteronomy 4:17; Nehemiah 5:18; et al. It may denote a bird of any kind, but is properly applied here to a sparrow, a species of bird very common and abundant in Palestine; a bird that finds its home especially about houses, barns, etc. That sparrows would be likely to gather around the tabernacle and even the altar, will appear not improbable from their well-known habits. "The sparrows which flutter and twitter about dilapidated buildings at Jerusalem, and crevices of the city walls, are very numerous. In some of the more lonely streets they are so noisy as almost to overpower every other sound. Their chirping is almost an articulate utterance of the Hebrew term (צפור tsippôr), which was employed to designate that class of birds. It may be taken for granted that the sparrows are not less numerous in other places where they have similar means for obtaining shelter and building their nests. The sparrows, in their resort to houses and other such places, appear to be a privileged bird. Encouraged by such indulgence, they are not timid - they frequent boldly the haunts of people. The sight of this familiarity reminded me again and again of the passage in the Psalms Psa 84:3, where the pious Israelite, debarred from the privileges of the sanctuary, felt as if he could envy the lot of the birds, so much more favored than himself." - Professor Hackett, "Illustrations of Scripture," pp. 94, 95.

And the swallow a nest for herself - A place where it may make its nest. The word used here - דרור derôr - denotes properly, swift flight, a wheeling or gyration; and it is applied to birds which fly in circles or gyrations, and the name is thus appropriately given to the swallow. It occurs in this sense only here and in Proverbs 26:2.

Where she may lay her young - Where she may place her young. The wordplay here is not used in the sense in which we now apply it when we speak of "laying" eggs. It means to place them; to make a home for them; to dispose and arrange them.

Even thine altars ... - The altars where thou art worshipped. The idea here is, that the sparrows and the swallows seemed to have a happy lot; to be in a condition to be envied. Even they might come freely to the place where God was worshipped - to the very altars - and make their home there undisturbed. How strongly in contrast with this was the condition of the wandering - the exiled - author of the psalm!

3. thine altars—that is, of burnt offering and incense, used for the whole tabernacle. Its structure afforded facilities for sparrows and swallows to indulge their known predilections for such places. Some understand the statement as to the birds as a comparison: "as they find homes, so do I desire thine altars," &c. The sparrow hath found an house, i.e. a habitation, to wit, a nest, as it here followeth.

Even thine altar; or, nigh (as this Hebrew particle eth is elsewhere used, and as it is rendered by the Septuagint and the Chaldee, Judges 4:11) thine altar, Heb. altars, that of burnt-offerings, and the other of incense; at or near which these birds might well and truly be said to have their nests, because they were either in some part of the tabernacle or temple in which the altars were, or in some buildings belonging, or near at least, to it.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house,.... One or other of the houses of men, where to build its nest; or its nest itself is called an house, as it seems to be explained in the next clause: the word here used signifies any bird; we translate it a "sparrow", and so Kimchi; the Targum renders it the "dove"; but the Midrash is,

"it is not said as a dove, but as a sparrow: the dove takes its young, and returns to its place; not so the sparrow:''

and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, have it the "turtle", the stock, or ring dove: and so the Targum, which paraphrases this clause, in connection with the following, thus:

"and the turtle a nest for herself, whose young are fit to be offered up upon thine altars:''

it is translated a swallow in Proverbs 26:2 and has its name in Hebrew from liberty, it not loving confinement, or because it freely visits the houses of men without fear:

even thine altars, O Lord of hosts; that is, as some understand it, there the swallow builds a nest, and lays her young; but it can hardly be thought that this could be done in them, since the priests were so often officiating at them, and there were so much noise, fire, and smoke there; it must be "at the sides of them", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, or near unto them; or rather in the rafters of the house where they were; and the rafters and beams of the temple were of cedar, and in such turtles have their nests (s); or in the houses adjoining to the tabernacle; or in the trees that might be near it; see Joshua 24:26, and so the psalmist seems to envy and begrudge the place these birds had, and wishes he had the same nearness as they. Kimchi observes, that if this is to be understood of David, when in the land of the Philistines, at that time high places and altars were lawful everywhere, and there birds might build their nests; but if of the captivity, the birds found a place and built their nests in the ruins of the temple and altars; and so Jarchi; for as for the temple, it was not built in the times of David; besides, when built, had a scarecrow on it (t): though the words may be considered as in connection with Psalm 84:3 and what goes before be read in a parenthesis, as they are by R. Judah Ben Balsam, cited by R. Aben Ezra;

"my soul longeth for the courts of the Lord, crieth out for the living God: even thine altars, O Lord of hosts'';

that is, for them; or may be supplied thus,

"I desire thine altars, O Lord of hosts'' (u):

as the birds above mentioned seek for a nest, and desire to find one, and have what they want, and nature prompts them to; so I desire a place in thine house and courts, and near thine altars; see Matthew 8:20, or thus; as these birds rejoice, when they have found an house or nest for themselves and young; so should I rejoice, might I be favoured once more with attendance on thine altars, O Lord of hosts: mention is made of "altars", referring both to the altar of burnt sacrifice, and the altar of incense, both typical of Christ, Hebrews 13:10 and of his sacrifice and intercession; both which believers have to do with: it is added,

my King, and my God; when, by attending at his tabernacle, courts, and altars, he would testify his subjection to him as his King, and his faith in him, and thankfulness to him, as his God; see John 20:28.

(s) Vide Theocrit. Idyl. 5. (t) "To drive away birds", or "to destroy them", Misn. Middot, c. 4. s. 6. Maimon. & Bartenora, in ib. (u) So Noldius, p. 23.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine {c} altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

(c) So that the poor birds have more freedom than I.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. The Psalmist envies the privilege of the birds which build their nests within the precincts of the Temple. If even they are allowed to find a home there, surely he may expect a welcome. As at an earlier time the surrounding scenery was eloquent to the poet of his own misfortunes (Psalm 42:7), so now a feature in the Temple courts expresses the longing of his heart. No doubt the figure is abruptly introduced. The picture is painted, and left to the reader to interpret. But it is unnecessary to suppose that the text is defective, and must be emended by the insertion of words to give the sense: ‘Birds have their nests, and so have I found (or rather, would I fain find) a home by thine altars.’ The direct address to God is not out of place, because though the Psalmist does not directly mean himself by the sparrow and swallow, his own longing breaks through the figure and moulds the language.

sparrow … swallow] Cp. Proverbs 26:2. Tsippôr, rendered sparrow, is a generic term for small birds: drôr is rendered dove by the LXX, Targ., and Syr., but probably means swallow. In ancient Greece as in the East the birds which nested in temples were accounted sacred. Comp. the story of Aristodicus at the temple of Branchidae (Herodotus i. 159); and “still the swallow seeks the temple enclosure at Jerusalem, and the mosque of Omar, as a secure and safe nesting-place.” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 206.)

may lay] Rather, hath laid.

even thine altars] Not of course the actual altar but its neighbour hood. Or we may render, by thine altars.

my King and my God] See Psalm 5:2; cp. Psalm 44:4.

3, 4. The happiness of those who find a home in the Temple.

Verse 3. - Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young. Both sparrows and swallows abound in Palestine. Canon Tristram found the nest of a sparrow "so closely allied to our own that it is difficult to distinguish it," in a chink of the Haram wall at Jerusalem, near the Golden Gate ('Land of Israel,' p. 182). An anecdote related by Herodotus (1, 159) shows that sparrows built about the Greek temples. The general meaning of the figure in this place seems to be, "If even birds love to build their nests, as they do, in the sacred precincts, how much more reason has the believing heart to find its home in the house of its God!" But the psalmist thinks it enough to suggest the parallel, and does not stop to carry it out. Even thine altars. The "altar" is put, by metonymy, for the temple itself. O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God (comp. Psalm 5:2). Psalm 84:3How 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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