(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon – that in

black is from the King James Version and from the Pulpit Commentary) 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved. 

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                                                Psalm 84



This psalm, attributed (see title) to the “sons of Korah,” or the Korahite

Levites (see I Chronicles 26:1; II Chronicles 20:19), describes the

blessedness of their position as dwellers in the house of God, and keepers

of its thresholds. Its date is uncertain, but must fall earlier than the

Captivity, since the temple is standing (vs. 1-4, 10), and there is an

anointed king upon the throne (v. 9).


The psalm falls into three equal stanzas or strophes, each of four verses,

the ends of the first and second stanzas being shown by the pause mark,




Title and Subject. To the Chief Musician upon Gittith. A Psalm for the

sons of Korah. This Psalm well deserved to be committed to the noblest of

the sons of song. No music could be too sweet for its theme, or too

exquisite in sound to match the beauty of its language. Sweeter than the

joy of the wine press, (for that is said to be the meaning of the word

rendered upon Gittith), is the joy of the holy assemblies of the Lord's

house; not even the favoured children of grace, who are like the sons of

Korah, can have a richer subject for song than Zion's sacred festivals. It

matters little when this Psalm was written, or by whom; for our part it

exhales to us a Davidic perfume, it smells of the mountain heather and the

lone places of the wilderness, where King David must have often lodged

during his many wars. This sacred ode is one of the choicest of the

collection; it has a mild radiance about it, entitling it to be called The Pearl

of Psalms. If Psalm 23 be the most popular, Psalm 103 the most joyful,

Psalm 119 the most deeply experimental, Psalm 51 the most plaintive, this

is one of the most sweet of the Psalms of peace. Pilgrimages to the tabernacle

were a grand feature of Jewish life. In our country, pilgrimages to the shrine

of Thomas of Canterbury, and our Lady of Walsingham, were so general

as to affect the entire population, cause the formation of roads, the erection

and maintenance of hostelries, and the creation of a special literature; this

may help us to understand the influence of pilgrimage upon the ancient

Israelites. Families journeyed together, making bands which grew at each

halting place; they camped in sunny glades, sang in unison along the roads,

toiled together over the hill and through the slough, and as they went

along, stored up happy memories which would never be forgotten. One

who was debarred the holy company of the pilgrims, and the devout

worship of the congregation, would find in this Psalm fit expression for his

mournful spirit.


Division. We will make our pauses where the poet or the musician placed

them, namely, of the Selahs.


1  “How amiable” - or, How lovely! He does not tell us how lovely they

were, because he could not. His expressions show us that his feelings were

inexpressible. Lovely to the memory, to the mind, to the heart, to the eye,

to the whole soul, are the assemblies of the saints. Earth contains no sight

so refreshing to us as the gathering of believers for worship. Those are

sorry saints who see nothing amiable in the services of the Lord's house -

“are thy tabernacles,” - The plural is used, as in Psalm 43:3; 46:4 (also

Korahite); and 132:7, either because the temple was made up of several

compartments, or as a “plural of dignity.” The tabernacle had been pitched in

several places, and, moreover, was divided into several courts and portions;

hence, probably, the plural number is here used. It was all and altogether lovely

to David. Outer court, or inner court, he loved every portion of it. Every cord

and curtain was dear to him. Even when at a distance, he rejoiced to

remember the sacred tent where Jehovah revealed Himself, and he cried out

with exultation while he pictured in fond imagination its sacred services,

and solemn rites, as he had seen them in bygone times. Because they are

thy tabernacles, “O Lord of hosts!” - therefore are they so dear to thy people.

Thy pavilion is the center of the camp, around which all thy creatures gather,

and towards which their eyes are turned, as armies look to the tent of the king.

Thou rulest all the companies of creatures with such goodness, that all their

Hosts rejoice in thy dwelling place, and the bands of thy saints especially

hail thee with joyful loyalty as Jehovah of hosts.  (compare vs. 3, 8, 12).



A Test of Our Spiritual State (v. 1)


We may not find Davidic associations with this psalm. It was composed by

one of the musically gifted family known as the “sons of Korah;” and may

be compared with Psalms 42 and 44. They were a family of Levites whose

inheritance lay on the eastern side of the Jordan. “Dwelling on the other

side of Jordan, it was often impossible for them to reach Jerusalem. When

the river swelled and rose with the melting snows of winter, or with the

heavy tropical rains which fell on the northern hills and mountains, the

fords of the Jordan became impassable; and the sons of Korah, even

though their turn of duty had come round, were unable to go up to the

house of the Lord. So, too, when the armies of Assyria, or some other foe,

were encamped round the city, and no Hebrew was permitted to pass the

line of siege, they were shut out from the worship of the temple through all

the summer months. Many, if not most, of their psalms appear to have been

composed at such times as these.” The point suggested is that the spiritual

condition of this writer can be tested by his feeling when deprived of

religious privileges. Was he glad of the ease and relief? Or did he pine for

restoration? So it may be shown that when Christians, through sickness or

traveling, are separated from their usual worshipping associations, their

spiritual state may be appraised by their feeling. Do they pine for them;

regretfully remember them, and wish they had made better use of them?


  • DO WE LONG FOR GOD’S WORSHIP? It may be actually a possible

thing for a man to live a religious life without ever taking part in any public

services. He is a rara avis (a rarity) indeed who succeeds in accomplishing it.

Most men not only yield to Divine command and invitation, by sharing in

sanctuary services, but they feel also the positive necessity for such

services (“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the

manner of some...), in the culture of their religious life, and the satisfaction

of their religious wants. When souls are alive unto God, they are sure to

desire to worship and praise Him along with others. This is the natural

religious instinct. But it should be pointed out that the interest in God’s

worship may cease to be spiritual; it may become aesthetic; it may even

sink down to be a merely “formal habit.”




v. 2, “for the living God,” suggests the deep spirituality of the writer. It

was not the ritual he longed for, or the songs; it was the conscious

PRESENCE OF GOD,  as the living Helper, Guide, and Comforter.

Compare the Christian yearning for the close and conscious presence of

the living Christ as Saviour and Sanctifier.


2   “My soul longeth,” -  it pines, and faints to meet with the saints in the

Lord's house. The desire was deep and insatiable— the very soul of the

man was yearning for his God - “yea, even fainteth;” - as though it could

not long hold out, but was exhausted with delay. He had a holy lovesickness

upon him, and was wasted with an inward consumption because he was

debarred the worship of the Lord in the appointed place - “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.To stand once again in

those areas which were dedicated to holy adoration was the soul longing of the

psalmist. True subjects love the courts of their king - “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.” It was

God Himself that he pined for, the only living and true God. His whole nature

entered into his longing. Even the clay cold flesh grew warm through the intense

action of his fervent spirit. Seldom, indeed, does the flesh incline in the right

direction, but in the matter of Sabbath services our weary body sometimes comes

to the assistance of our longing heart, for it desires the physical rest as much as

the soul desires the spiritual repose. The psalmist declared that he could not remain

silent in his desires, but began to cry out for God and His house; he wept, he sighed,

he pleaded for the privilege.  Some need to be whipped to church, while here is

David crying for it. He needed no clatter of bells from the belfry to ring him in,

he carried his bell in his own bosom: holy appetite is a better call to worship than

a full chime.



God the Living One (v. 2)


The precise expression here used is only found besides in Psalm 42:2.

In the New Testament the name ‘living God’ is found in Matthew’s

and John’s Gospels, in the speech of Paul and Barnabas in the Acts

(Acts 14:15), in several of Paul’s Epistles, four times in the Epistle

to the Hebrews, and once in the Revelation. It is difficult to treat this

subject as a universal experience, because our hearts are so full of the risen

and living Christ, God manifest in the flesh, God manifest in the spirit. He

is God, the living God, ever with us, as Helper, Inspirer, Comforter, and

Sanctifier; but we may helpfully try to take the position of a “son of

Korah,” and begin by considering what the “living God” was to him.



suffice this writer to read his Bible, study and think about God, in the land

beyond the Jordan? A man can have feast times, times of spiritual

refreshing, in the privacy of his home, and in the midst of God’s handiwork

in nature. And every man ought to have such thoughts of God; nourish and

cherish them. But here is the fact of human experience — God thought has

never wholly sufficed and satisfied any human being yet, because man is a

composite being. He is not all thought. He has a body. And this very

thinking is dependent on the help that symbols — relative to the body —

can bring. Devotees may strive to become all thought. They do not thus

transcend human nature, they degrade it. We must have more concerning

our God than mere thinking about Him; and therefore this Korahite longs

for His revealed Presence in the temple.



have always recognized a sense in which God is specially present in His

sanctuaries, and in His sacraments. God taught this to all the ages by the

manifestation of His Presence in Jewish tabernacle and temple, by the

brooding cloud and the Shechinah light. What the psalmist dwells on is,

that he used to realize God’s nearness when he looked on His dwelling

place, shared in His worship, and heard His priests. Urge that only at

spiritual peril can men neglect the symbols of the presence and working of

the living God.


  • GOD FELT IN MAN’S HEART AND LIFE. This is the full

realization of God as the Living One, living and working in us. Show this is

an advance on sentiment, or mere thought of God, and on formalism, or

mere outward worship of God. It is God in us, the inspiration of all good.

It is “Christ our Life.”


3   “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house,” -  He envied the sparrows

which lived around the house of God, and picked up the stray crumbs in

the courts thereof; he only wished that he, too, could frequent the solemn

assemblies and bear away a little of the heavenly food - “and the swallow

a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,” -  He envied also the

swallows whose nests were built under the eaves of the priest's houses, who

there found a place for their young, as well as for themselves. We rejoice not

only in our personal religious opportunities, but in the great blessing of taking

our children with us to the sanctuary. The church of God is a house for us

and a nest for our little ones – 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, O Lord of hosts,” –

To the very altars these free birds drew near, none could restrain them nor would

have wished to do so, and David wished to come and go as freely as they did.

Mark how he repeats the blessed name of Jehovah of Hosts; he found in it

a sweetness which helped him to bear his inward hunger. Probably David

himself was with the host, and, therefore, he dwelt with emphasis upon the

title which taught him that the Lord was in the tented field as well as within

 the holy curtains - “my King and my God.”  Here he utters his loyalty

from afar. If he may not tread the courts, yet he loves the King. If an exile,

he is not a rebel. When we cannot occupy a seat in God's house, He shall

have a seat in our memories and a throne in our hearts. The double "my" is

very precious; he lays hold upon his God with both his hands, as one resolved

not to let him go till the favor requested be at length accorded.  (compare

Psalm 5:2).  (If interested, a Spurgeon Sermon on this verse can be found

in your browser by typing in – The Sparrow and the Swallow by C.H. Spurgeon –

CY – 2017)


Sanctuary Birds (v. 3)


The sparrow and the swallow told of here are apt types of those servants of

God who find in Him what these birds found in the temple. The comparison

of the soul of one of God’s people to a bird is not unusual (see Psalm 11.).





Ø      Such as are negative. They are not distinguished, like the eagle and

many others, but of a very humble and lowly sort; nor powerful and strong;

nor beautiful; nor valuable — “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?”

(Matthew 10:29) — nor numerous, that is, in comparison with the vast

multitude of birds generally; nor, in themselves, attractive and beloved, like

the dove. But neither are they cruel like the eagle, nor “foul like the vulture,

nor greedy as the cormorant, nor bloodthirsty as the hawk, nor hardhearted

as the ostrich, nor depending upon men for support as the fowls of the

farmyard, nor loving darkness like the owl” (Spurgeon). All these negative

qualities suggest the opposite ones in those who delight in God. But there

are also:


Ø      Such as are positive. They are the lowly ones, restless till they find their

home; seekers, — they “find” the rest they desire; true to their homes;

trustful, — in what strange places their nests are often found, under the

eaves of cottages, and in all manner of accessible places, where any one

could reach them, but they seem to trust that no one will harm them! Are

not these characteristics like those of the souls of whom these birds are the





Ø      There are the altars of God for them; they have not to provide such


Ø      When they come they are never driven away.




Ø      A habitation, strong, comfortable, abiding.

Ø      A home. The Church is a home for the soul.


  • THEIR YOUNG. Their home is in the courts of the Lord. So will the

faithful servants of God seek that their offspring shall find their home in the

Church of God. “Children should be housed in the house of God. The

sanctuary of God should be the nursery of the young.” Happy those

children whose parents seek for this above all else!



Envy at the Birds (v. 3)


The man prevented from sharing in the public worship of the temple thinks

enviously of the very sparrows and swallows that flit through its courts and

build their nests under its eaves. Sparrows are very abundant in the East.

Swallows make their nests, not only in the verandas, but even in the

rooms, within the mosques, and in the sacred tombs. Josephus tells us that

the outer courts of the temple were planted with trees. “It is a singularly

natural and beautiful conception which makes the psalmist think of the

birds haunting there, as seeking the protection of God’s altar for their

young, and so enjoying a privilege which as yet he has not.” Evidently what

is chiefly in his mind is the sense of peace and security which the birds have

who make their homes within the precincts of God’s temple. No one

disturbs them. There are too many people about for birds of prey to

venture near. In the temple courts the poet thinks of them as away from all

the “stress and strain” of life. Compare “He that dwelleth in the secret

place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

(Psalm 91:1)



he wrote when the land was in a disturbed state, and there was no

restfulness or safety for any one anywhere. And he must have felt this even

more in the open and exposed districts beyond the Jordan. Illustrate from

the idea of “sanctuary,” which was, in old times, attached to the temples.

Once within them, no foe could assail. Dr. Turner tells us that in Samoa,

the manslayer flies to the house of the chief of the village; and in nine cases

out of ten he is perfectly safe, if only he remains there. See how jealously

Jews guarded their temple from the intrusion of strangers. In London of

the olden time, Whitefriars, Westminster, and the Savoy were sanctuaries

for all criminals except traitors. This feeling of security the Christian gains

out of his daily apprehension of the Divine presence and defense. Round

about him are the everlasting arms. He lives within the overshadowing

spiritual temple. “What can harm us, if we be followers of that which is

good  (I Petere 3:13), and have God upon our side?  (“The Lord is on

my side; I will not fear:  what can man do unto me?” – Psalm 118:6)



dwelling fully on that strange, yet delightful quietness, restfulness,

solemnity, which come upon us when we enter a cathedral. We feel as we

feel nowhere else in the world. Our feeling answers to that of the Jew when

entering his temple. Show how nourishing to all the finest elements of soul

life that atmosphere of peace is.


4   Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:” -  As the Korahite Levites did, being

keepers of the gates” of the Lord’s house (I Chronicles 9:19; 26:1). Those he esteems

to be highly favored who are constantly engaged in divine worship—the canons

residentiary, yea, the pew openers, the menials who sweep and dust. To

come and go is refreshing, but to abide in the place of prayer must be

heaven below. To be the guests of God, enjoying the hospitalities of

heaven, set apart for holy work, screened from a noisy world, and familiar

with sacred things—why this is surely the choicest heritage a son of man

can possess - “they will be still praising thee.”  It is their privilege to be always

praising thee. The speaker regards the temple as predominantly the house of

praise. So near to God, their very life must be adoration. Surely their hearts and

tongues never cease from magnifying the Lord. We fear David here drew rather a

picture of what should be than of what is; for those occupied daily with the offices

needful for public worship are not always among the most devout; on the contrary,

"the nearer the church the further from God." Yet in a spiritual sense this is

most true, for those children of God who in spirit abide even in His house,

are also ever full of the praises of God. Communion is the mother of adoration.

They fail to praise the Lord who wander far from Him, but those who dwell in

Him are always magnifying Him. “Selah.” In such an occupation as this we

might be content to remain for ever. It is worth while to pause and meditate

upon the prospect of dwelling with God and praising Him throughout eternity.


5   “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;” - God is the“Strength of all

who trust in Him. The psalmist seems to mean that mere dwelling in the house of

God is not enough for blessedness. Trust in God — having God for one’s Strength —

is also requisite (compare v. 12). Having spoken of the blessedness of those who

reside in the house of God, he now speaks of those who are favored to visit it at

appointed seasons, going upon pilgrimage with their devout brethren: he is not,

however, indiscriminate in his eulogy, but speaks only of those who heartily attend

to the sacred festivals. The blessedness of sacred worship belongs not to half-

hearted, listless worshippers, but to those who throw all their energies into it.

Neither prayer, nor praise, nor the hearing of the word will be pleasant or

profitable to persons who have left their hearts behind them. A company of

pilgrims who had left their hearts at home would be no better than a

caravan of carcasses, quite unfit to blend with living saints in adoring the

living God - “in whose heart are the ways of them.”  - literally, in whose heart

are highways. The “highways” intended are probably those of holiness (compare

Proverbs 16:17 and Isaiah 35:8) - or far better, in whose heart are thy ways. Those

who love the ways of God are blessed.  When we have God's ways in our hearts,

and our heart in His ways, we are what and where we should be, and hence we shall

enjoy the divine approval.


6   “Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well;” - rather, through

the valley of weeping (τὴν κοιλάδα τοῦ κλαυθμῶνοςtaen koilada tou klauthmonos -

into the valley of the place of weeping - Septuagint). So Hupfeld. Hengstenberg, Kay,

and the Revised Version; compare Hosea’s “valley of Achor,” i.e. “of Grief.” When

the righteous pass through a time of suffering or calamity, they turn it into a time of

refreshment.  Traversing joyfully the road to the great assembly, the happy pilgrims

found refreshment even in the dreariest part of the road. As around a well men

meet and converse cheerfully, being refreshed after their journey, so even

in the vale of tears, or any other dreary glen, the pilgrims to the skies find

sweet solace in brotherly communion and in anticipation of the general

assembly above, with its joys unspeakable. Probably there is here a local

allusion, which will never now be deciphered, but the general meaning is

clear enough. There are joys of pilgrimage which make men forget the

discomforts of the road - “the rain also filleth the pools.”  - rather, the early

rain (Joel 2:23) covereth it with blessings. The rain of God’s grace mantles

all the valley with a luxuriant vegetation; in other words, the blessing of

God rests on those who act as above described, and causes them ever to

increase in righteousness and true holiness. God gives to

His people the supplies they need while traversing the roads which He

points out for them. Where there were no natural supplies from below,

the pilgrims found an abundant compensation in waters from above, and

so also shall all the sacramental host of God's elect. Ways, which otherwise

would have been deserted from want of accommodation, were made into

highways abundantly furnished for the travelers' wants, because the great

annual pilgrimages led in that direction; even so, Christian converse and

the joy of united worship makes many duties easy and delightful which

else had been difficult and painful.




The Joy of the Pilgrims (vs. 5-6)


In these verses there is a blending of the real and the figurative; the actual

journey towards Zion is represented as accompanied with ideal blessings of

peace and refreshment. The poet has thought of the blessedness of those

who dwell constantly in God’s house. Now he thinks of the blessedness of

those who are permitted to go there, and to tarry there for a while. And

this leads him to recall what happy times he had known, even in the

journeys to Jerusalem. Perowne says of the pilgrims to Zion, “Every spot

of the familiar road, every station at which they have rested, lives in their

heart. The path may be dry and dusty, through a lonely and sorrowful

valley, but nevertheless they love it. The pilgrim band, rich in hope, forget

the trials and difficulties of the way; hope changes the rugged and stony

waste into living fountains.” The valley of Baca was the valley which led

up from Jordan toward Jerusalem, and whose famous balsam trees wept

balms. The thought for our consideration is this — the hearts that are truly

set on God, and filled with desire to join in God’s worship, will cheerfully

bear, and successfully master, all the difficulties that may be in their way.

They make the very valley of Baca refreshing as a spring.



VALLEYS OF BACA. Two explanations of this valley are given. Some

say it means “wet, marshy places;” others say, “dry, sandy places.” Clearly

it means something trying and difficult for pilgrims. We know well that

there are difficulties in the way of our effort to live the godly life; valleys of

Baca in our pilgrim route to the eternal temple of the holy.


Ø      There are valleys of weeping; sorrows, both outward and inward

(valleys of balsam, or weeping).


Ø      Valleys of unrelieved want; desert places. Illustrate the ever-varied,

ever-unquenchable thirst of the spiritual life.  (“O God, thou art my

God; early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee in a dry and

thirsty land, where no water is.”  - Psalm 63:1)



THESE VALLEYS OF BACA. Times of trouble we must have, but

everything depends on the spirit in which we approach them, and deal with

them. The true heart is helped to triumph over the difficulties of the way,

by keeping ever in mind the end it has in view. Lead on to show how the

heaven of established holiness, and near communion with God, becomes

the inspiration to overcoming the difficulties of the way.



OF BACA. If they dig pools in the desert, God will be sure to fill them

with His genial rains. God is to us in blessing as we are to Him in trust.



Living Water from Hidden Springs (v. 6)


“Passing… a well.” “The valley of Baca,” i.e. of weeping, or lamentation.

The image is of a company of pilgrims towards the holy city, whose way

lies through a desolate, sterile valley. In that “dry and thirsty land” (Psalm 63:1)

many a traveler has fainted with thirst. On those rugged rocks many a feeble or

heedless foot has slipped, many a pilgrim fallen. But if “the blessings of

heaven above” and “the precious things of the earth” (Deuteronomy 33:16),

be denied, there is yet “the blessing of the deep that worketh under.” (Genesis

49:25)  The pilgrims gird their loins, pitch their tents, and dig deep. Cool treasures

of living water from hidden springs reward their toil. At morning they go on their

way with a new song of praise, and leave a blessing for those who follow.



THROUGH THE VALLEY OF TEARS. Sometimes, thoughtlessly or

bitterly (in either case ungratefully), this name is applied to human life as a

whole. Untrue and unreasonable. If life has its dangers and deserts, weary

wastes, gloomy gorges, perilous passages, it has also breezy sunny uplands,

smiling valleys, fields of happy fruitful labor, quiet resting places, cheered

by bright hopes, warm affections, pleasant memories. Many a light-hearted

company marches for leagues with unbroken ranks. It is as untrue that life

is all sorrow, as that it is all joy. But the valley of weeping has to be

crossed. There are lives whose whole course is within its shadow. The

happiest path runs so near its border that at any moment we may enter it;

perhaps soon to emerge; perhaps not till the pilgrimage be ended. No

unfrequented spot. If we take account of bleeding or broken hearts and

shadowed hair all over the world — a life failing with each sound — we

shall acknowledge that in this wide sense earth may not untruly be called

the valley of tears.”




THROUGH THE VALLEY OF WEEPING.  Comfort under trial,

blessing through trial, hope beyond trial.


Ø      Sorrow for sin is the condition of the joy of forgiveness (Matthew 5:4).

Violent emotion is not necessary; but a true sense of the guilt, as well

as evil, of sin. Peace with God precedes PEACE IN GOD!   The deeper the

sorrow, the sweeter the joy. Shallow views of sin are one of the chief

dangers of our day; begetting shallow views of atonement, and of the

relation of Christ’s death to our sins and “the sin of the whole world”

(John 1:29; I John 2:2).


Ø      Gods presence and love, our Saviour’s sympathy, the power of the

Holy Spirit as “the Comforter,” are felt in trouble as at no other time. In

the night the stars shine (Psalm 46:1). To bear trouble patiently is the

part of a wise brave man, Christian or not; but comfort in trouble is the

exclusive privilege of the Christian.


Ø      The discipline of sorrow produces rich fruits stronger faith, deeper

humility, a new sense of the value of prayer and of the preciousness of

God’s promises; patience, courage, detachment from the world, power to

sympathize (James 1:2-3; I Peter 1:6-7; Hebrews 12:10; Psalm 119:67, 71).


Ø      We are saved by hope. (Romans 8:24.) There is no grief so heavy as

despair. None intolerable if hope shines ahead. A hidden well

(Colossians 3:3), but whose streams can refresh the dreariest, weariest

stages of pilgrimage (II Corinthians 4:16-18). Christ’s atonement lifts

from our heart the burden of the past. His sympathy and mediation bring

every moment of the present into living happy relation to God. But His

resurrection and ascension bind our own earthly life to THE GLORIOUS

IMMORTAL FUTURE!  (John 14:1-3, 19; Hebrews 6:19).


7   ‘”They go from strength to strength,” - Their spiritual course is

one of continually greater vitality and vigor. So far from being wearied they

gather strength as they proceed. Each individual becomes happier, each

company becomes more numerous, each holy song more sweet and full.

We grow as we advance if heaven be our goal. If we spend our strength in

God's ways we shall find it increase - “every one of them in Zion appeareth

before God.” Either “Each in his turn appears to render thanks

and praise before God’s holy seat on Mount Zion;” or “Each in his turn

shall appear before God’s throne in the true Zion, heaven.” This was the end of

the pilgrim's march, the center where all met, the delight of all hearts. Not merely

to be in the assembly, but to appear before God was the object of each devout

Israelite. Would to God it were the sincere desire of all who in these days mingle

in our religious gatherings.  Unless we realize the presence of God we have done

nothing; the mere gathering together is nothing worth.



The Glory of Worship (vs. 1-7)



“How lovely are thy dwellings!” or “the house where thou dwellest.”






He is at a distance from the sanctuary; and the birds of the air seem

nearer God than he is.



(v. 4.)



GOD. (v. 5.)



WILDERNESS. In the weeping vale (v. 6). “The early rain cometh in

with blessings.”






HEAVEN. (v. 7.)




Stages of Spiritual Progress (v. 7)


The very journeys to the temple, often toilsome and hazardous, take on a

certain sacredness from memory, imagination, and desire, insomuch that

they can say that ‘the highways to Zion are in their hearts.’ They remember

how they wept with vague, almost joyful emotion as they passed through

the valley of Baca, and how they went ‘from strength to strength,’ that is,

grew stronger and stronger, more and more joyful, as they topped the hills

round about Jerusalem. Illustrate by the growing excitement we feel when

nearing home after a time of prolonged absence. Every mile finds us more

and more anxious to catch a sight of familiar scenes. It might be reasonably

expected that the long and trying journey would make the pilgrims feel

weary and indifferent. Instead of that, their souls master their

circumstances, and they are brighter and more cheerful at the end than at

the beginning. So do we see aged Christians who, for sunny faces and

happy ways altogether, put to shame young beginners in the pilgrim path.

They have evidently gone “from strength to strength.”


  • SPIRITUAL PILGRIMS MUST “KEEP ON.” According to the figures

of the text, they must not be stopping, or idling, or taking up any interests

on the way; day by day, persistently, they must be going forward; every

day getting a day’s march nearer Zion. A pilgrim must just “keep on.” So

we are called to “patient continuance in well doing” (Romans 2:7), to

day-by-day persistent goodness; and this of itself may become wearisome.

It is the hardest thing given us to do, this keeping on, day by day, in the same

scenes, and doing the same work. But it is never really a mere keeping on.

We may not realize the joy of it, but the fact is that, in keeping on, we are

going “from strength to strength.”



EVER BETTER ABLE TO KEEP ON. Every difficulty overcome means a

higher strength to overcome difficulties. Every joy felt in a spiritual

triumph is cheer for dealing with new anxieties. Every day of Christian life

is a step; from it we get power to take a step higher. (I remember Marion

Duncan, in the late 1960’s, preaching a sermon on Elijah taking one step

at a time.  CY – 2017)  The man who has lived well his Christian life today

is in fact, and ought to be in feeling, a stronger man to live his Christian life

tomorrow. And so, making the day’s experience a step up, he finds power and

joy increasing as he nears the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. A Christian

life may be exhausting for the body, but “as the outward man perishes, the

inward man is renewed day by day.”  (II Corinthians 4:16)


8   “O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer:” - The prayer of v. 9. Give me to go

up to thy house, or if I may not do so, yet let my cry be heard. Thou listenest to

the united supplications of thy saints, but do not shut out my solitary petition,

unworthy though I be - “give ear, O God of Jacob.”  (compare Psalm 20:1;

46:7, 11; 75:9; 76:6; 81:1, 4).Though Jehovah of hosts, thou art also the

covenant God of solitary pleaders like Jacob; regard thou, then, my plaintive

supplication. I wrestle here alone with thee, while the company of thy people

have gone on before me to happier scenes, and I beseech thee bless me; for I am

resolved to hold thee till thou speak the word of grace into my soul. The repetition

of the request for an answer to his prayer denotes his eagerness for a blessing.

What a mercy it is that if we cannot gather with the saints, we can still speak to

their Master. “Selah.”  A pause was needed after a cry so vehement, a prayer so



9  “Behold, O God our shield i.e. ‘ ‘our Protection and Defense” (compare Psalm

33:20; 59:11; 89:18).   , and look upon the face of thine anointed.”  Regard our

king with favor; let the light of thy countenance shine upon him. Here we have

the nation's prayer for David; and the believer's prayer for the

Son of David. Let but the Lord look upon our Lord Jesus, and we shall be

shielded from all harm; let Him behold the face of His Anointed, and we

shall be able to behold His face with joy. We also are anointed by the Lord's

grace, and our desire is that He will look upon us with an eye of love in

Christ Jesus. Our best prayers when we are in the best place are for our

glorious King, and for the enjoyment of His Father's smile.




The Shield Figure (v. 9)


In this psalm we find three names for God:


Ø      “God of hosts,”

Ø      “God of Jacob,”

Ø      “God our Shield.”


To Abraham God had said, “Fear not, I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great

Reward.” (Genesis 15:1)  And in Psalm 5:11, we read, “Thou, Lord, wilt bless the

righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Moses exclaims

(Deuteronomy 33:29), “Happy art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee,

O people saved by the Lord, the Shield of thy help?” And one of the later psalms,

 has this for a refrain, “O Israel, trust thou in the Lord; He is their Help and

their Shield.”  (Psalm 115:9  The prayer of the text is urged by two metaphors:


Ø      “Thou my Shield;”

Ø      “I thine anointed.”



peculiar to the hand-to-hand warfare of ancient times. They were of two

kinds — one very large, protecting the whole body; another smaller, used

by light-armed troops very skillfully. They were sometimes made of light

wood, covered with bull’s hide of two or three thicknesses, plated with

metal; sometimes they were studded with nails or metal pins. They were

smeared with oil, both to prevent them from injury by weather, and to

render them so smooth that missiles might the more readily glance off.

So varied and so complicated is religious life that we are glad of the

help of all kinds of metaphor. As Christ is set under many names, so God is

set under many relations. Christian life, conceived as a warfare, has its

defensive and offensive sides. Under the shadow of God, as a Shield, men

find defense. Compare figure of the “strong Tower,” into which “the

righteous runs and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)  There are times in our Christian

warfare when we can only act on the defensive. Then God is our Shield. Under

the shadow of God, as a Shield, attacks were made. Describe the ancient mode

of attacking a fortress, under shields placed together so as to make a

protecting roof, which secured the soldiers from hostile missiles. There is

offensive war” sometimes in Christian life. Prevailing evils must be

vigorously attacked. WE MAY BE SURE OF GOD’S SHIELD IN ALL

ACTIVE SERVICE!  The psalmist here is writing as a civilian, and a

Levite, and thinks lovingly of GOD AS HIS DEFENSE from the perils

of the pilgrim way.



though the psalmist had said, “Recognize the face that is uplifted to thee.”

Though the term “anointed” will suit David, it will equally suit the priest

and the Levite, as set apart, anointed for the special service of God’s

temple. If God has brought us into close and loving relations of service to

Him, He has given us a plea to use in prayer. We may say, “Look upon the

face of thine anointed.”


10   “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.”  - ie. than any number

of days elsewhere. It is difficult to trace any connection between these concluding

verses. They appear to consist of distinct thoughts, which arise in the writer’s mind,

and are jotted down as they occur to him. One is a thought of loyalty, which finds

vent in a prayer for the king (v. 9). Another is a reflection of the main thought of

the psalm, the incomparable blessedness of dwelling in God’s house. A third

(vs. 11-12) is the joy and glory of perpetual communion with God and trust in

God.   Of course the psalmist means a thousand days spent elsewhere. Under the

most favorable circumstances in which earth's pleasures can be enjoyed, they

are not comparable by so much as one in a thousand to the delights of the

service of God. To feel His love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed

Saviour, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in

applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy which worldlings cannot

understand, but which true believers are ravished with. Even a glimpse at

the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sense.

“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God”  - literally, at the

threshold; but the meaning is well expressed by the Authorized Version.

“Doorkeepers in the house of their God” was exactly what the Korahite

Levites were (I Chronicles 9:19; 26:1, 12-19)., than to dwell in

the tents of wickedness.”  As their ancestor, Korah, had done

(Numbers 16:26).The lowest station in connection with the Lord's

house is better than the highest position among the godless. Only to wait at

His threshold and peep within, so as to see Jesus, is bliss. To bear burdens

And open doors for the Lord is more honor than to reign among the wicked.

Every man has his choice, and this is ours. God's worst is better than the

devil's best. God's doorstep is a happier rest than downy couches within the

pavilions of royal sinners, though we might lie there for a lifetime of

luxury. Note how he calls the tabernacle the house of my God; there's where

the sweetness lies: if Jehovah be our God, His house, His altars, His doorstep,

all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within,

the outside of the house is better than the noblest chambers where the

Son of God is not to be found.



Delight in God’s Worship and Service (v. 10)


“A day in thy courts,” etc. Of all the hundred and fifty holy songs

composing the Psalter, none breathes a more intense spirit of exalted

devotion than this, or in language and imagery more poetical and musical.

It shares this character with other psalms ascribed to “the sons of Korah.”

Their ancestor Korah perished miserably in his rebellion against Moses and

Aaron, at the very door of the tabernacle (Numbers 16.). Yet his

descendants had the charge of guarding the temple gates, no mean office

(I Chronicles 9:17-19; 23:5; 26:1, 12); and were likewise leaders of the

temple music, Heman being one of them (ibid. ch. 6:33-37; 25:1, 5).

Although it often happens that the father’s sins are visited on the

children, yet there is no unchangeable doom, no bar sinister (being of

illegitimate birth) on their escutcheon, no barrier against their renewed

consecration and acceptance.  The sentiment of the text is — Delight in

Gods worship and service. “A day,” etc. Secondly, a single day so spent —

in worship, such as every devout Israelite partook, and service, the privilege

of a Levite — outweighs in true joy and solid worth all the time spent in

mere worldly business or pleasure.



GOD. Not every one can say this. For a worldling it would be rank

hypocrisy. In Malachi’s day there were those who said, “What a

weariness!” (Malachi 1:13). Are there not even real Christians for

whom such a sentiment is an exaggeration; whose sense of duty exceeds

their sense of privilege; to whom the sabbath brings the shadows of

constraint rather than the lamp of joy? Their worship has a slightly

penitential flavor rather than a rich fragrance of joy. They have not

learned the secret of the son of Korah (Psalm 63:4), or of David

(ibid.  vs. 1-3). Joyless service is neither profitable nor acceptable.

These are heart-searching considerations. If we can venture to think of

anything as bringing sadness to our heavenly Father’s heart, would it not

be this — that His children take small delight in drawing near to Him?

We live at too low a level, among the clouds, when we might be in the

sunshine and pure air of the mountain top.




Ø      The joy of praise, worship, adoration. Notice how inseparably praise

and rejoicing are united in the Bible, especially in this Book of Psalms.

“That God is what He is” (says John Howe) is the source of infinite joy to

His children.


Ø      The joy of personal communion with God. He is:


o       “our God” (Psalm 48:14);

o       my God” (Psalm 42:1-2, 6; Philippians 4:19).


Ø      The joy of fellowship with Gods people. (I John 1:3.) Common

prayer, harmonious praise, public worship, have blessings and promises

distinctively their own. It was when all the hundred and twenty

continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,” THE


gathered praying,” Peter was set free (compare Acts 4:24, 31).


Ø      The joy of service. A Christian, whether a minister or private Church

member, can be more than “a doorkeeper” — a door opener:


o       setting wide the gate of the city of refuge to the refugee

from sin;

o       opening the  door of the kingdom to the young, and

o       leading them through the gate Beautiful into the temple;

o       helping fellow believers to enter with boldness “into the

holiest (Hebrews 10:19-20).


All that the ancient psalmist found in the temple, we have, not in

shadow, but reality:


o       the one sacrifice (Hebrews 10:2, 4,10,12);

o       the Divine Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2);

o       the true holy of holies (Hebrews 9:8-12, 24);


and in place of the ceremonial service of the Levites, to maintain

which the free will offerings of the people were dedicated,


o       the ministry of truth,

o       the relief of need and suffering the wide world over, and

o       the spread throughout the world of the gospel and kingdom

of Christ (I Peter 2:5).


Which way does the balance incline? which has really our heart’s

devotion and yields supreme delight — GOD’S SERVICE or




Strange Preferences (v. 10)




Ø      That a day spent in Gods courts is better than a thousand anywhere else.

But such preference makes it certain that not any day in God’s courts

can be meant; for too many days are spent there which might just as well

be spent elsewhere. They bring no good to any one, but rather harm. For

the worship on such days is but formal, hypocritical, has no heart in it. But

the day the psalm tells of must be one in which the soul really communes

with God, in which God is worshipped in spirit and in truth.


Ø      That the humblest service in the house of God is better than the most

rich and luxurious life in the tents of wickedness. But here again the

service meant must be the reverse of formal, perfunctory, grudging; for if

the service were of such sort, one might almost as well be in the tents of

wickedness. And that dwelling in those tents cannot mean an unwilling, a

forced dwelling, like that told of in Psalm 120:5. Many servants of God

have had and still have so to dwell amongst wickedness; they are not happy

in it, would not be where they are could they help it, but they cannot.

Hence if they be “lights shining in the darkness,” then they are rendering

high service to God, and great shall be their reward. But the dwelling told

of is one which is chosen and loved. But, the psalmist says, the meanest

place in God’s house is better than that. “I had rather be a doorkeeper

in the house of my God!”



with them; even good people might be slow to make such affirmation

about a single day in God’s house being better than a thousand anywhere

else. Most people think that those who make such choice are either

madmen or fools. They are despised as enthusiasts, or hypocrites, or




He who wrote this psalm was but one of myriads more. He who does not

put God first may have much good about him, as had the young ruler told

of in the Gospels, but he cannot have eternal life.




Ø      The first-named can — the one day over the thousand. For what gives

value to time? Not its duration, but its employment, what you do with it.

Which do we deem most worth — the comparatively short-lived empire of

Greece, or the thousands of years of Chinese life — if life it can be called?

There may be one day in your life which you remember more than whole

years beside, for it more influenced and blessed you than all the myriad

other days which have gone by and are forgotten. It is the day filled with

energies of the mind, heart, spirit; with memories of inspiring deeds; with

influences which tell upon you and others. Compare King Henry V.’s address

to his soldiers at Agincourt:


“He that outlives this day and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,” etc.


But the day of real worship and communion with God is a day more filled

with energies, memories, influences, than can any others be. How many of

these others only drag down the soul! BUT A DAY WITH GOD!


Ø      And so the humblest service for God is to be preferred. For such service

is shared in by the noblest, unites us to God, breaks the chain of sin,

prepares for heaven, robs care of its sting, etc. Therefore the psalmist’s

choice is right; LET IT BE OURS!




The Joy of Doing Little Things for God (v. 10)


“I had rather be a doorkeeper;” literally, “stand or lie on the threshold.” A

missionary tells us that in India the office of doorkeeper is truly respectable

and confidential. Doorkeepers of temples are men of the greatest dignity

and power; whereas the psalmist was thinking of the lowliest and most

humble situation. “I would rather choose to sit at the threshold.” This is the

situation of the devotee and the beggar. “Excuse me, sir, I pray you; I had

better lie at the threshold than do that,” is a frequent mode of expression

among Orientals. The psalmist prefers the situation and attitude of a

beggar, at the threshold of the house of the Lord, to the most splendid

dwellings of the wicked. From I Chronicles 26:12-19 we learn that the

sons of Korah, or Kore, were the porters of the gates of the Lord’s house.

“To these ministers of the sanctuary none seem so blessed as they who

dwell in God’s house, and are forever praising Him. To these keepers of the

temple gates one day in the sacred courts is better than a thousand spent

elsewhere; and they would rather be doorkeepers in the house of God than

sit and be served as chiefs in alien tents.”



They are necessary in their places. They are fitted to those of moderate or

small capacities. To God the little things of service are as acceptable as the

great things. Find any earthly sphere, and take the little things of it away.

What an upset of the whole would result! The doorkeeper at the gate was

as important in his way as the priest at the altar. We can do our “little

things” for God cheerfully, when we can fully realize that they are service

    just our service.



GREAT ONES. A little pool can mirror the sun as truly as the

widespreading lake. A dewdrop can refresh the earth, in its way, as truly as

the thundershower in its. God is the reader of motives, and accepts the

actor rather than the act. It often, indeed, takes more and nobler character

to do a small deed well than to do a large one. There is much to help a

priest to be noble; there is but little to help a mere doorkeeper, and he has

to fall back upon principle. Let but a man rightly esteem doing anything for

God, and he will be full of holy joy in being permitted to do some “little



11   “For the Lord God is a sun and shield:” - i.e. not only a “Shield” or protection,

as He has been already called (v. 9), but also a “Sun,” the source of life and light,

of joy and happiness (compare Isaiah 60:19-20; Malachi 4:2).  Pilgrims need both

as the weather may be, for the cold would smite them were it not for the sun, and

foes are apt to waylay the sacred caravan, and would haply destroy it if it

were without a shield. Heavenly pilgrims are not left uncomforted or

unprotected. The pilgrim nation found both sun and shield in that fiery

cloudy pillar which was the symbol of Jehovah's presence, and the

Christian still finds both light and shelter in the Lord his God. A sun for

happy days and a shield for dangerous ones. A sun above, a shield around.

A light to show the way and a shield to ward off its perils. Blessed are they

who journey with such a convoy; the sunny and shady side of life are alike

happy to them - “the Lord will give grace and glory:” -  Inward grace,

outward splendor and glory (Revelation 21:11-24). Both in due time,

both as needed, both to the full, both with absolute certainty. The Lord has

both grace and glory in infinite abundance; Jesus is the fullness of both,

and, as His chosen people, we shall receive both as a free gift from the God

of our salvation. What more can the Lord give, or we receive, or desire -

“no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”  (see

I Corinthians 2:9; I Timothy 4:8; and Psalm 34:10). Grace

makes us walk uprightly and this secures every covenant blessing to us.

What a wide promise! Some apparent good may be withheld, but no real

good, no, not one. "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is

God's." God has all good, there is no good apart from Him, and there is no

good which He either needs to keep back or will on any account refuse us,

if we are but ready to receive it. We must be upright and neither lean to

this or that form of evil: and this uprightness must be practical, —we must

walk in truth and holiness, then shall we be heirs of all things, and as we

come of age all things shall be in our actual possession; and meanwhile,

according to our capacity for receiving shall be the measure of the divine

bestowal. This is true, not of a favored few, but of all the saints for evermore.




What God is to His People (v. 11)




Ø      God is to them a Sun and Shield. These figures refer to our moral state

as dark and dangerous. Alienation of the soul from God is a state of

darkness. God is the Source of our light and life and joy. Our danger is —

life is a great battlefield. We have protection from God if we are on His

side. The battle is His.


Ø      He gives to them grace and glory. Grace is unmerited favor. The

favor of God to man has been in THE EXERCISE OF HIS MERCY!

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according

to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10)  GLORY is the perfecting the work of

grace, in the revelations and rewards of eternity. The BEGINNING, the


(“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: 

to whom be glory for ever.  Amen.”  (Romans 11:36)


Ø      He holds back from them no good thing. This includes the bestowment

of all real good. And He has given us a proof and pledge in the gift of

Christ. “If God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,

how shall He not with Him also FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS!”

(Romans 8:32)






Ø      Because their characters do not answer to the description of the text.

They do not walk uprightly, or only do so very imperfectly. None of us

translates the theory of the Christian life into our actual practice.


Ø      They often mistake what are the good things of life. Many things,

accounted good by the false judgments of the world, are bad. (“Woe

unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness

for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and

sweet for bitter.”  (Isaiah 5:20)  Things good for some men are bad

for others. Things good for us at one time are bad at another. But the

absolutely good thingsgood independently of all circumstances

are meant in the text.


o       To walk in God’s light;

o       to see all things in the light that falls from His character;

o       to enjoy His help and protection from spiritual danger;

o       to HAVE HIS GRACE NOW, and






12  “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” compare

Psalm 2:12). Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the

blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret.

A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true

rejoicing in the Lord's worship, His house, His Son, or His ways. Dear

reader, how fares it with thy soul?



The Soul’s Sweet Home (vs. 1-12)


This is one of the Korahite psalms, like Psalms 42 and 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:



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 (I 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 (ibid. ch. 26:1-19) were appointed

as guardians of the temple doors (see v. 10, here). The writer longs

to be again at his loved work in the courts of the Lord. Hence he tells:


Ø      Of the loveliness of Gods house, in his esteem.

Ø      Of his intense desire for it. (v. 2.) His soul yearning told upon his

body, that he was as one in pain, and cried out.

Ø      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.

Ø      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-for 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:

Ø      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.

Ø      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 is!.

Ø      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.


  • The other interpretation of this psalm reads it as telling of THE



Ø      v. 1 distinctly affirms this: the earthly tabernacle being the type of

the soul in which God dwells.

Ø      v. 2 declares that he cannot live without God.

Ø      v. 3: he joyfully asserts that he lives in God; his soul, though like

the sparrow, restless as the swallow, has yet found a rest,

a dwelling place, a home in God — in God as seen in

His altar, atype of the sacrifice of Christ.

Ø      v. 4: he celebrates the blessedness of such — their life is one continued


Ø      v. 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).

Ø      v. 6: their sorrow is turned into joy.

Ø      v. 7: their trust strengthens evermore; they see God as they worship.

Ø      vs. 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.




Conditional Bestowments (vs. 1-12)


What God is to His people, and what He does for them, may be put into two

figures, and expressed in two plain statements. But what He is to them, and

what He does for them, depend on what they are in themselves, and what

they are toward Him. This the sincerely good man is always willing to





Ø      Suggested by two figures.


o        “The Lord God is a Sun.This figure for God is only used in this

place.  The sun in nature is the source of light, life, warmth, beauty,

fruitfulness.  The psalmist seems, even in this figure, to have God’s

defendings chiefly in mind. GOD IS LIGHT against darkness,

which Easterners so greatly fear.


o        “The Lord God is a Shield.” See this figure treated in the homily on

v. 9. We may add the picture of the tents of the army ranged in circles

round the king’s tent, and forming an almost impregnable shield;  

“As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round

about His people from henceforth even for ever.” (Psalm 125:2)

Some have suggested making one figure of the two, and reading it,

“The Lord God is a bright and shining Shield.” They think reference

may be to the brazen shields, which were kept polished, so that,

catching the sun’s rays, they might dazzle the enemy.


Ø      Suggested by two statements.


o        “The Lord will give grace and glory.” We may think of Divine

bestowment exactly according with human necessities. Grace fits

into all present needs; glory fits into all future needs. But the psalmist

probably used the terms as figures for the two things he needed —

help and success.


o        “No good thing will He withhold.” A carefully qualified promise.

It does not say, “Nothing will He withhold.” It is “no good thing;”

and no one can decide what is good for us as He can who has the

infinite knowledge, and is the infinite Wisdom and Love.


  • THE DIVINE CONDITIONS. “From them that walk uprightly.” That

being regarded as the sure sign that the heart is right with God. A man may

walk uprightly before his fellows who is not heart right with God. But this

is quite certain — if a man does not walk uprightly, HE CANNOT BE

RIGHT WITH GOD!  God is an unstinted Giver; we put the limitations

by the failure of our:


Ø      faith,

Ø      love,

Ø      submission, and

Ø      obedience.


God would have His bestowmeuts to be the best possible blessing to us; and

therefore they are withheld until it is quite plain that we are prepared to make

the best of them.






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