“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” You may recognize this chorus from the popular worship song written by Matt Redman, but these lyrics actually originated in the Psalms. The sentiment is just as true today. Both then and now, our hearts can only be fully satisfied when we are in God’s presence.
The psalmist expresses a longing for God’s presence, which is compared here to the temple in Jerusalem (vv. 1–4). This longing is all-encompassing: “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (v. 2). This longing motivates our journey: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage” (v. 5).
The “psalmist” here is actually plural—the “Sons of Korah,” a Levitical choir. The Sons of Korah were gatekeepers in the temple (see yesterday’s study). So they weren’t longing to become doorkeepers in the house of the Lord (v. 10). They already were! The original occasion for this psalm, however, might have been when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked and Hezekiah bought him off with all the silver and gold in the temple (2 Kings 18:13–16). In that case, the temple would have been unable to be used for worship. The background for the prayer of verses 8–9 might then show their desire for this problem to be resolved.
In any case, those of us who long for God and have our hearts set on pilgrimage are blessed (vv. 5–12). Faith does not depend on our external circumstances. Even if one is passing through the Valley of Baka, presumably a hard or dry place, faith can make it a place of refreshing springs (v. 6). The blessing of faith is God Himself—being in God’s presence is good because God Himself is good (v. 11).
>> Do you long to experience God’s presence? Why not read or recite Psalm 84 aloud? Doing so would be an excellent way to begin and end your day. Let the beautiful truths in this psalm encourage your journey.
Let’s join the psalmist’s prayer in today’s reading, asking for God’s presence, love, and mercy to be with us all the days of our lives. May the Lord show us afresh how to recognize and enjoy His presence.