August 15, 2021
Metropolitan UMC, Indian Head, MD
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For the director of music. According to gittith. [b] Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.[c]
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d]
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield,[e] O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
To the Old Testament believer, there was no place more special than the Temple. It was the embodiment of Jewish religious expression, for in the midst of this nation, God had taken up residence. To be able to visit Him there was a sacred duty and high privilege. Psalm 84, which celebrates the Temple as the visible expression of the presence of God, probably originated in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the three sacred festivals which all Jewish men were required to attend. Blessed appears three times (84:4–5, 12); each use describes a larger circle where God’s blessings fall: first, on those who dwell in God’s house, second, on those who go there, and third, on all who trust in God.
The opening stanza extols the greatness of the sacred sight (84:1–4). Lovely (84:1) might be better translated “beloved” which captures the psalmist’s feelings toward the dwelling place of Yahweh Almighty, feelings he continues to express in verse 2. He deeply longs to be there and sings for joy (not cry out as translated by the New International Version) at the thought of fellowship with the living God (84:2). God’s house is such a blessed place that even creation longs to be near Him there (84:3). The sight of sparrows fluttering, swallows flitting, and birds nesting near the sacred altars underscored the peace and security the Temple represented. Blessed are those who make their home in God’s house (84:4)!
Because the Temple is such a blessed place, those who journey from their homes to take “refuge” (NEB) in its courts (84:5–9) are also blessed. Even the ground on which the pilgrims travel is enriched by their footsteps (84:6). The NIV treats the Valley of Baca as a location, although unknown. It might instead refer to a place of weeping or to an arid location. A combination of the latter two would suggest that the pilgrims can turn a dry, sorrowful place into fertile ground for rejoicing. There seems to be another word play in the last line of verse 6, for the Hebrew words for blessings and pools are almost identical (see the NIV note on this verse). The true source for blessings is evident in that the pilgrims uncover the springs, but it is God who sends the rain. Their journey, so blessed by God, is effortless, for the pilgrims proceed with ever-increasing strength (strength to strength [84:7]). 
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Notes from Point 1
Notes from Point 2
Notes from Point 3
 Stephen J. Lennox, Psalms: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 1999), 261–262.