TO THE CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO THE GITTITH. A PSALM OF THE SONS OF KORAH.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) The psalmist began by expressing his longing to be at the house of the Lord, the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was where Christ was preached through the sacrifices and types. It was also the place of corporate worship, where God’s people would gather together to be in His presence. The psalmist so longs to be with God and his people that that he wishes to be one of the birds who has made a nest on the roof, just so he could always be there. Is this how you think about public worship? Are you eager to return to public worship with your congregation in the presence of God to hear the gospel preached again? And these occasions of public worship are glimpses of what our worship and communion will be like with God forever in heaven.
2) The psalmist then zooms the camera back to his present experience. He is going through the “valley of Baca”, literally the “valley of weeping”. It is a place of sorrow and trial. And yet, because his strength is in the Lord and he knows where he is going (vs. 5), the waters from his weeping are transformed into waters that sustain his soul on the rough journey. Instead of dying from weariness and exhaustion, the Lord give “strength to strength” with each step. The Lord sustains him through each moment as he needs it. How often are there times in your life where weeping was great? And yet the Lord sustained you through those times? Do you realize he will do that for the rest of your life through every trial until you reach your final home with him?
3) The psalmist closes by zooming the camera back out again to his destination, the temple where God dwells. And he recounts God’s provision with new images. First God is a “shield” (vs. 9, 11). He protects us from the mortal blows that would kill us. And he is a “sun” (vs. 11), the source of light and heat necessary for life. It seems contradictory at first, that God could both radiate and block at the same time. But in fact, these are complementary. God defends us and sustains us at the same time. He provides us every good thing in the moment we need it (vs. 11). But remember, it is “good” things as God sees them, with his perfect knowledge, wisdom, and plan, not good things as we see them from our limited understanding. For us, it may be hard to see the good of going through the valley of weeping, but if God promises to sustain us through it every step of the way, and eventually bring us to his presence in glory, do we really have any reason to doubt or complain? When we receive each new gift of strength along the way, aren’t we gathering even more reasons to praise him in the congregation?