The Soul's Sweet Home
Psalm 84:1-12
How amiable are your tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

This is one of the Korahite psalms, like Psalm 42., 43., and some eight others. The late Dean Plumptre, in his 'Biblical Studies,' pp. 163-166, gives reasons for concluding that they all belong to the reign of Hezekiah, and were written by members of the Levitical family of Korah. One or more of them, it may be, hindered by the presence of the army of Sennacherib from going up to the temple, as they had been wont to do, pours out his grief in these psalms. It may have been so: we cannot certainly say. There have been two great interpretations of this psalm - that which reads in it -

I. THE LONGING OF THE SERVANT OF GOD AFTER THE WORSHIP OF THE SANCTUARY. This is the most general meaning found in it, as well as the most obvious. To this day the sparrows fly round the Mosque of Omar as they flew about the precincts of the temple which once stood on that same spot, as the writer of the psalm had often noticed. There was

"No jutting frieze.
Buttress, nor coigne of vantage, but these birds
Had made their pendant bed."
The Korahites were (1 Chronicles 9:17) keepers of the door of the tabernacle, and, in in Moses' time, watchmen at the entrance of the Levites' camp, and afterwards (1 Chronicles 26:1-19) were appointed as guardians of the temple doors (see ver. 10 of this psalm). The writer longs to be again at his loved work in the courts of the Lord. Hence he tells:

1. Of the loveliness of God's house, in his esteem.

2. Of his intense desire for it. (Ver. 2.) His soul yearning told upon his body, that he was as one in pain, and cried out.

3. Of the birds, the common sparrow, the restless swallow, - even they seemed to him happier than himself, for they were where he would but could not be. They were not banished, as he was, from the courts of the Lord. They dwelt and had their home there, as he fain would.

4. Of the blessedness of his service. It was a life of praise, and there is no life so blessed as this. They are made strong by God; the joy of it brightened the long journeys, reached to the very roads, arid, bare, and terrible, as many of them were. Yet nevertheless, in their hearts were ever these "ways." The joy of the service to which they were going made the vale of weeping a place of joy, the sandy waste a place of fountains; yea, God did so bless them with his grace as with the soft autumnal rains the cornlands are blessed after the seed is sown. And the looked or gladness made their numbers swell and grow by additions that came in from all sides as the happy pilgrims went along, until every one of them appeared before God in Zion. Then follows:

5. The fervent prayer that these hallowed seasons may be again given; the names by which he appeals to God telling probably of the hosts of enemies arrayed against the people of God.

6. He declares the reason wherefore he thus importunes the Lord of hosts. It was because he counted the meanest service for God better than the best pleasures of sin. The worst of the Church is better than the best of the world. And because of what God himself was.

7. From all this learn - that the love of God's house is one sure mark of God's people; that true worship is a well of delight, which gladdens all our life; but that only they know it who have knowledge of God in their own personal experience as their Sun and Shield.

II. The other interpretation of this psalm reads it as telling of THE BLESSEDNESS OF LIFE IN GOD. Ver. 1 distinctly affirms this: the earthly tabernacle being the type of the soul in which God dwells. Ver. 2 declares that he cannot live without God. Ver. 3: he joyfully asserts that he lives in God; his soul, though mean as the sparrow, restless as the swallow, has yet found a rest, a dwelling place, a home in God - in God as seen in his altars, type of the sacrifice of Christ. Ver. 4: he celebrates the blessedness of such - their life is one continued song. Ver. 5: and of those whose strength - their confident trust - is in God, in whose heart are "ways" for God; he has full right of way in them, they belong to him (Isaiah 40:3, 4). Ver. 6: their sorrow is turned into joy. Ver. 7: their trust strengthens evermore; they see God as they worship. Vers. 8-11 are one fervent prayer that he who has told of this blessedness may know it for himself: "Hear my prayer." And all this is true: the life in God is blessed. - S.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.} How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

WEB: How lovely are your dwellings, Yahweh of Armies!

The Glory of Worship
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