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Psalm 84:1-12


To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah


“Psalm 84, reads like this “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!  My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD:  my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.  Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:  they will be still praising thee.  Selah.” ‘What do you think about that.’  Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.  Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.  They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer:  give ear, O God of Jacob.  Selah.  Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.  For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.  I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the LORD God is a sun and a shield:  the LORD will give grace and glory:  no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”


Introduction: The Pilgrim’s, the Believer’s Psalm


Charles Spurgeon said “If the 23rd Psalm is the favorite Psalm of all Christians, and the 103rd Psalm the most healing Psalm for believers, the 51st Psalm the most penitent of Psalms,” as we repent and look to God, he said, “the 84th Psalm is the sweetest of all of the Psalms, it is the Psalm of the Pilgrim.”  It’s divided into three sections by the word “Selah.”  You’ll see at the end of verse 4 and the end of verse 8, it divides the Psalm into three sections.  The first section of the Psalm speak about the longing, the desire for the presence of the LORD, the courts of God, the Tabernacle, the Temple.  Verses 5 to 8 speak of the journey, the pilgrimage, to come to that place as certainly in the days that this was written, there were the three mandatory Feasts [Feast seasons, Spring, Pentecost Harvest, and Fall Harvest Feast seasons], when the children of Israel would gather and come up to the Temple [see]  And verses 9 to 12 speak of the Pilgrim’s arriving, coming into finally the presence of God and of that experience.  So it has been the song of Pilgrims throughout the centuries, every one of us have a longing in our hearts for the Living God.  Every one of us here this evening, we’re in a pilgrimage, we’re in a journey, this is temporary.  Every time we loose a loved one, or we see the world around us disintegrating, we realize ‘This is temporary, this is a pilgrimage,’ this is not heaven [or the kingdom of heaven] this is a journey.  [Comment:  quite realistically, right after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, the whole earth and universe as we know it has only about just over 1,000 to 1,100 years left of existence, before it is totally melted down, destroyed, and a new heavens and a new earth are created right before our eyes, cf. Revelation 20:14-15; 21:1]  But there is a day that we arrive [cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54], there is a time that we step into his presence, there is a destiny and a destination.  So, those things are put before us in the Psalm.  Look, the Scripture tells us that we are Pilgrims and we are Sojourners.  Cain, when he killed his brother, said that he would have to flee from the presence of the LORD, that he would be a fugitive and a vagabond all the days of his life on the earth.  A fugitive is someone whose fleeing from home, a vagabond is somebody without a home, a pilgrim is someone whose headed home, a sojourner, away from home. 


The Pilgrim’s Desire For His Eternal Home


A Song For Those Who Are Headed Home


And this is a song of those who are headed home, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!” it begins.  “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD:  my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” (verses 1-2)  “How amiable” ‘how lovely’ your translation might say.  The Hebrew is interesting, it actually just says “How beloved are” notice “thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!” ‘of armies, O Jehovah of armies.’  “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts  of the LORD:  my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”  So the Psalmist, just thinking of maybe past experiences there, in the presence of the LORD, and the Temple precincts, longing, maybe traveling with a group of pilgrims, to make that journey up to Jerusalem on one of the mandatory Feasts.  Or possibly not being able, this particular Feast to come, and he’s rehearsing these things in his own mind, we’re not certain.  But he’s saying ‘How beloved, LORD, your tabernacles.’  I love to go to church, I love to go to church, I love to sing praises, I love to hear your Word, I love to get in your presence, I love to be with the people of God.  You know, all the things in this world, you know, that are put in front of people as pleasurable, and so forth, Lord, church is good.  And every real believer should feel that.  You know, when I was a kid, I was made to go to church.  My dad was Catholic, my mom was Lutheran, they sat home on Sunday, and made me go to church.  And it took me until I was six or seven to figure out, if church was so great, they’d be going, I’d be riding in the car with them, they wouldn’t be sitting home, and I’m here walking to church on Sunday.  So as soon as we got a little older and had some money, we walked to this diner every Sunday morning and had breakfast, and came home and said ‘church was great.’  But you know, you get saved, and all of that so changes, you know, you think of the Psalmist, ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity.’ (Psalm 133:1)  You know, not all pleasant things are good.  There are things that are pleasant and not good.  And there are some good things, again, that are not pleasant.  A root canal sometimes is a good thing, not pleasant.  Unless you have a problem, for most of us that’s not pleasant.  ‘But how good and how pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity, the coming together, the house of God.’  And the Psalmist here saying ‘There’s something in me that longs for that, how amiable,’ I like that word, “How beloved are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!’  Inwardly, he says “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD:”  “longeth” in the King James, the Hebrew means “to yearn” it is actually translated, the idea is “to become pale, to loose your colour, to be worn out.”  He’s saying, “My soul longeth, yearns for, yea even fainteth” you know, ‘to be exhausted, to be spent, to be completely used up,’  ‘My soul is longing, it is worn, it is yearning, it is pale, yea, it even faints for the courts’ notice, ‘of’ not just the courts themselves, ‘the courts of the LORD.’  “my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” (verse 2b)  Now “crieth out” is interesting, because it’s “to cry out in joy or in song,” the idea is, ‘my heart and my flesh cry out,’ I love it, we meet on Mondays, staff meeting, and we say ‘Man, the worship yesterday was just great, you could sense the Holy Spirit, people were worshipping, just it was so wonderful.’  Here he says, “Myheart and my flesh crieth out” and look what it says “for the living God.”  Not for the courts of God, not for the Tabernacle of God, the Tabernacle of God is lovely, it’s beloved, it says, ‘because it is thy house, it is the place where you live, it is your Tabernacle,’ and he says ‘my heart and my flesh, my soul is longing for the courts of the LORD, because it is the place of the Living God.’  ah, only used twice in the Book of Psalms, I believe it’s Psalm 42, we have “the living God” too, which is a phrase we use a lot.  In all of these songs, only twice.  You know, here’s the song of the Pilgrim, there’s something that he yearns for and longs for, and it isn’t just to play church, not just the house of God, but it’s the God of the house.  I love to come on Sunday’s and Wednesdays, I love to come, Monday nights things are going on, Tuesday mornings, I love to come because to me, I come and I can sense Jesus is up to something.  I don’t have to define that or quantify that.  All I got to know is he’s up to something, and I just can’t wait to get here.  And I stand over there and pray ‘Lord, don’t let me mess this up, don’t let me go up there alone, don’t send me up there alone.  If I go up there alone, I might as well not be here, don’t let me mess this up, I know you’re up to something, I can’t believe I get to be part of it.  Whenever I drop dead you’re going to give it to somebody else.  I just can’t believe I get to be part of it.’  How beloved, Lord, that circumstance of coming into God’s house.  And it’s because it is where he dwells, it is because of his presence, it is because of the Living God.  And if it isn’t that for you, then, it’s just Christianity, it’s ‘I go to church because I’m made to go to church.’  You know, I talk to kids about it in Christian school, there’s no such thing as a Christian school.  It’s brick and it’s mortar, you know.  A Christian school is a school full of kids that have Christian parents that want them in a Christian school, and they don’t necessarily all want to be there.  There’s no such thing as a Christian college.  If you go to a Christian college you can find the keg parties, you can find the people smoking dope, or you can find the Bible studies and the people that love Jesus.  And he says here, ‘Your Tabernacles, LORD, the place of worship, it’s beloved, and that’s because it is the place of the Living God, LORD I know that.’  


The Sparrows, Swallows Have Their Home, Where Is Our Home?


And look what he says, he says, “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.” (verse 3)  You see if you have the King James it says “even” that’s in italics, it’s inserted, it’s not there.  It’s almost as he breaks into something else, it says “thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”  I doubt very much whether he’s saying, and I think I used to think that it was saying, ‘I’m envious of the sparrow and of the swallow, because they’ve made their nests in your altar, and they get to stay there all the time.’  Well if they made their nests in the altar, they would get to stay there all the time, because they’d be cooked on the first sacrifice.  He’s just saying ‘LORD, in the natural, you know, your creation, the creatures of this world, they have their habitat, they have their place, they have their environment, you made them.’  Jesus would say to a man who said ‘I want to follow you,’ he would say ‘Really?  The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’  He’s saying ‘Look, in the natural there are creatures who have their environment here, and they’re at home here.  You want to follow me?  I don’t know where you think I’m going, I’m not at home here, this is not my environment, the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’   In fact, the next time that phrase is used in the Greek, is when Jesus is on the cross, and he gives up the ghost, and it says  he gave up the ghost and ‘bowed’ that’s the word, ‘the Son of man has nowhere bow his head,’ the Son of Mary has nowhere to lay his head, when he finally lays his head he said “It is finished, Father into thy hands do I commend my spirit,” then he has a place to lay his head, the work is done.  And here I think it’s a picture, you know, of the Psalmist saying, ‘You know, look, the sparrows, the swallows, they’re flitting around, they’re soaring through the air, they find they have their home, they find their nest, there’s a place for them to lay their young,’ and it seems as he’s standing there he says, ‘Thine altars, O LORD, thine altars O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.’  That is what opens the door for all of us.  Look, where are we headed?  Where are we flying around?  Do we have, most of us believers here no doubt, I remember being an unbeliever, there was a sense of homelessness.  That might be a word, that kind of, there was a hunger in me before I was saved, kind of like that.  You know, I felt, I couldn’t find a place, I couldn’t fit in, no matter what I did it didn’t satisfy, no matter what I snorted or what I drank, what I took, what I was involved in, there was a sense of homelessness.  It was like, I keep doing this, it was phony and empty as everything else.  And then finally you come to Christ, and it’s the altar, it’s the place of atonement, it’s the place where blood is shed, all of a sudden something changes, and you realize something, and there is a place for you now, because you’re washed and you’re cleansed. There’s a place because somebody else paid the price.  And it’s almost as though he’s saying here, ‘Look, you know, these creatures, I can envy them in the sense they have a place to nest, they have a place to settle.’  Jesus says the foxes have their holes, birds of the air have their nests, he says, they have a place to raise their young.  But you know what?  So do we now, if you’re in Christ, you can say ‘Lord, your altars, Lord, your altars Lord, O LORD of hosts, LORD of armies, my King, my God, I have a place now that I’m at home, I have a place to raise my young.  I have something I want to get into the hearts and minds of my children, God, by your grace I want to get into the hearts and minds of my grandchildren, by your grace, Lord, it’s about your altars.  Lord, it’s about the place where you dwell, it’s a place where the Living God is, it’s the place that’s different than this world, it’s the place that this longing brings us to, in time, as we’re genuine, Lord.’  and how wonderful to think, ‘Lord, I’m going to raise my kids, I’m going to tell them about this, I’m going to point them to you, and I don’t want them giving their whole life to this or to that or to all of these things.  It has to be linked to you, it has to have purpose, because Lord Jesus, it’s about walking with you, it’s about being with the One whose forgiven them.  It’s because that sense of homelessness has been taken out of their hearts and they’re realizing now ‘I have a place, this is a pilgrimage, I’m on a journey Lord, and as I do that, your Tabernacles, Lord, they’re amiable, they become more lovely, more beloved, there’s something inside of me that’s longing for something better than this.’  I’m tired of snowstorms, there ain’t going to be any of them in heaven [kingdom of heaven—which is going to end up on earth—and if you want to go skiing, then you’ll have your snowstorms J ].  I’m tired of power outages, no power outages in heaven, I’m tired of cancer, there ain’t no cancer there.  I’m tired of seeing people’s lives broken by drugs and alcohol and sin, and destroyed.  None of that’s going on there.  I’m tired of the tears, I’m tired of the illness, I’m tired of the sin, I’m tired of the culture, I’m tired of seeing what’s going on.  ‘Lord, how beloved are your Tabernacles, Lord, my soul is turned pale, it’s fainting, it’s longing for your Tabernacles, for the Living God.  The swallow and the sparrow, they’ve found a place, they have a place to raise their young,’ and it’s almost like he goes, ‘Your altars, LORD, your altars, Lord Jehovah of hosts, my King, my God.’ 


You Think A Worship Service Is Good Now?  You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet


“Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:  they will be still praising thee.  Selah.” (verse 4)  “Still” is not still, it’s “always.”  Your translation might say “Blessed are they who will ever be praising thee” or “continually be praising you.” that’s the idea.  ‘LORD, your house, there is a place for us, Lord, and we’re finally going to step into that place, and when we step into that place, Lord, bless it, that’s the blessedness I’m longing for those who will be continually praising thee.  What do you think about that?’  It’s coming.  You know, I love our worship services, I love our communion services.  You know, sometimes we think after communion service, after a time of worship, we say ‘Wow! It was just so great.’  But knowing Jesus, he saves the best wine for last.  You’d think a worship service is good now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  We’re going to step into his presence, where everything that troubles us now---because you can be in a worship service here in church thinking ‘I forgot to get more salt,’ or ‘I didn’t get gas for the snowblower,’ or ‘oh no, what am I going to do about this,’ or I think ‘this knucklehead’s been bothering me,’ your mind can go all kinds of places.  But we’re going to step into his presence, and all that we are is going to be attached to the One whose in front of us, and there will be no distractions.   We will be home.  And we will ever be praising.  What do you think about that?  He’s saved the best for last.  We ain’t seen a real worship service yet, we’re going to. 


Our Journey, Pilgrimage Through The Valley Of Baka, Weeping


We Have A “Water Source” Within This Valley


Now, the “Selah” ends that first part.  He describes the longing.  Now he’s going to go in verse 5, he’s going to say, and look, there’s a journey in all of this.  We’re in process here, there’s something in regards to this life that we all deal with.  He uses in verse 4, “blessed,” which ties into “blessed is the man” in verse 5, where he starts talking about the journey now.  And here’s the interesting thing, when he uses these “blessed’s” here, they’re all in the plural, even down in the very last verse, it’s plural.,  It’s “bless” or “blessed’s” or “happinesses” or “happys” or the idea is it’s plural, it’s too much, you can’t describe it in one word, they’re all plural.  He says, now, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;” that’s a wonderful thing to remember, isn’t it?  And we have reminders that remind us of that all the time, ‘Blessings upon the man or the woman whose strength is in thee,’ and look, he defines it, King James says “in whose heart are the ways of them.  are is in italics “the ways of them” in italics.  The Hebrew says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, the highways in their heart.”  “the highways in their heart.”  What is in our hearts?  Is this a journey, is this a pilgrimage?  Is there a compass there?  Are we passing through?  “the highways in their heart” attaches it to verse 6, the “Who” there is in italics, “the highways in their heart passing through” we’re passing through, we ain’t staying, we are passing through.  No matter how much it stinks, and no matter how much it hurts, no matter what difficulties come, no matter how hard it is for me or for you sometimes, you know, to harmonize the difficulty of our circumstances with the love of God, to say ‘This is incongruent, this doesn’t, how does this go together?’  He says here “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;” not in your circumstances, “in whose heart are the ways of them” “the highways in their heart, the blessed man whose strength is in the Lord, the highways are in their heart that are passing through the valleys,’ you know, there’s something about the way that a man lives, his strength is in the Lord, because it isn’t in circumstance, in his heart there’s a longing, that longing makes him realize he’s on a pilgrimage, so he’s passing through.  There’s a highway in his heart, not a home, not settled down, you know, it’s not the Beverly Hillbillies, take your shoes off, set a spell, you know, we have no continuing city here, we’re not building a mansion.  Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God, he didn’t find it in this world.  There was always a highway in his heart.  He’s the man of the tent, Abraham, and the man of the altar.  And the altar defined his relationship with the next world, and the tent defined his relationship with this world.  You know, sometimes when I see people in the ministry, you know, building multi-million dollar homes, and they’re making excuses for it, I’m thinking ‘What world are they headed for?  Where are they settled down?’  The Son of man had nowhere to lay his head, and they’re trying their darnedest to maybe have 15 bedrooms in that house to lay their head.  [I’m thinking, the only justification would be using that mansion to house and feed the poor, or at least feed the poor and needy.  That is exactly what William Wilberforce did with his mansion, the Christian who got slavery banned in British Parliament, so it was banned throughout the British Empire.  Watch Amazing Grace to see that guy in action, pure social justice in action.  So it’s not wrong to have wealth or a mansion, it’s all about how you use it.]  He says “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.”  (verse 5)  This is the soul’s journey, “the highways in their heart,” those highways are defined now, Who passing through the valley of Baka make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.” (verse 6)  Now it’s a very interesting verse.  ‘The highways that are in their hearts are passing through the valley of Baka.’  The Hebrew word “Baka,” the root of it is “weeping, sorrow.”  Your translation might say “the valley of mulberry trees.”  That’s really dumb.  There’s no evidence for that anywhere.  If you want to argue with me, don’t.  If you’re online, go home and Robert Dick Wilson, Valley of Baka.  He was maybe the greatest linguist in the history of the Church.  People talk about Gleason Archer, because he knew 26 languages.  Robert Dick Wilson knew 45, that’s supernatural, 45 ancient Semitic languages, he had the New Testament memorized in nine languages.  [I can hardly remember my name when I get up in the morning]  And he said, there was one man, I think his name was Burkhart, around the 1400-1500s who wrote that Baka meant mulberry trees, and he said “Every commentator from him forward said Baka meant mulberry trees.”  And he said it all goes back to one guy.  He said there are some who said it was a valley of balsam trees because supposedly the balsam trees would have the sap that ran on the outside that looked like it was weeping, therefore it was called ‘the Valley of Weeping.’  No hard evidence for that.  But Robert Dick Wilson said when he traveled to that part of the world, he was with his brother, who was a missionary, and they were watching these Bedouins, where these wadis were in the hills, where there was a trickle of water running, and they were digging, and they dug troughs down in the valley, and then covered those up with stones, and he said ‘What are they doing?’ and he said, ‘They’re making those pathways,’ and he said ‘What do that call that?’ and he said, ‘Baka.’  He said it’s the aquifer or the underground waterway that’s not seen in the dry desert, this is the Valley of Baka.  And he said “I was there, and saw it with my own eyes.”  So, yes it’s a valley of weeping, quite often.  “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; the highways in his heart are going through,’ not stopping at and building a place, ‘they’re going through the valley of weeping,’ it’s the valley in fact, though you don’t see it, there are springs of water.  In fact, the Hebrew literally says here, it says, “passing through the valley of Baka,” it doesn’t say ‘make it a well,’ it literally says, “make it a place of springs.”  And then it adds this, notice, “the rain also filleth the pools.” (verse 6b) speaking of another source of water.  So the Valley of Baka, yes, it may be a dry place, it may be a place of weeping, but there are sources, deep places, that bring refreshment, and then there are the rains from sources from below and above, from the rains the come down from heaven, also, the rains from heaven that make a pool.  And look, that could be theory, you can take a Baka 101, and Baka 102 in school.  But you can’t really take the correspondence course.  Every one of us in our pilgrimage, we come to the place of tears and weeping, it comes for different reasons.  It comes in different shapes and sizes.  It always reminds us, and in those places there are hidden springs, in those places there is the rain that comes from heaven that renews us. 


This Is A Journey Of Loss


When our strength is in the Lord, and the highway in our heart then is a highway that passes through the Valley of Baka, it takes us through those difficult places, and puts us in a position that we are going from strength to strength it’s going to say to us.  It’s not that we’re camped there, we’re going through.  But there’s pain, there’s sorrow.  Look, again, the journey that we’re on, the pilgrimage that we’re on, and you don’t think about it a lot when you’re 16, I didn’t.  Of course I wasn’t saved then.  I didn’t get saved until I was 22, I didn’t think a lot about it then [ditto for me, on both points].  But this is a journey of loss.  You loose your youth, you loose your friends, you loose your parents, you loose your teeth, you loose your hearing, you loose your memory (and that’s good, you won’t remember the people talking about your hearing and your hair-loss and your tooth-loss).  It’s a journey of loss.  But in that journey, because there are hidden springs and there is nourishment, there is rain that comes from heaven, and in this journey what we’re learning to do is leave-go things of this world and take hold of the next.  I have blessings in this life beyond what I realize, I’m sure.  It says his mercies are new every morning.  He daily loads us with benefits.  You know, in the Book of Titus it says ‘To the aged women’ and there are none of those here, I can see by looking around the room tonight, whatever they are, they’re not here tonight, I understand that.  But it says ‘To the aged women, to teach the younger women to love their husbands, to keep their homes,’ and the word “love” there is not “Agape,” it is “Phileo” ‘to be friends with.’  It’s almost like it’s saying, ‘You know, the widows have a capacity to look into the face of a younger woman and say ‘Sweetheart, enjoy the time you have with your husband, while you have it.  Enjoy the time you have, the time you have with your kids, before they move out,’ you know.  If you have daughters, they always call you dad, if you have sons, one day they say ‘See ya,’ different creatures.  That’s good, that’s ok, that’s the way it is.  But it’s almost as if it says, ‘In the journey, where I am, the aged women, ‘Sweetheart, enjoy your husband while you have him, be friends with him, be friends with him, enjoy the time you have, it’s God-given, it’s important, it’s passing, you only get to do this one time, that’s how often you get to do this.’  And it’s hard then, isn’t it, to turn around and say to a younger generation, you know, you get to be 50, 60 years old, and you think, you read the Psalm ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want, wow, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside still waters, he restoreth my soul,’ these things are so true, and then you get all of your little grandkids, you get all the little kids in first grade, you make them learn it ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want,’ and they have no idea what it means.  And it’s, because you make the pilgrimage and you make the journey, as time goes on, those things, you embrace those things, you’re leaving go the things of this world, and you’re taking hold of the things of eternity.  And this Psalmist is saying ‘You know, LORD, your Tabernacle, the place where your worship is, LORD, it is so sweet, LORD.’  We talk to people here that are retired, people here that are aged, that are in the hospital, they can’t get to church for a few months, they say ‘We can’t wait to get back to church.  We can’t wait to get out of the doctor’s, we can’t wait to get out of the hospital, we can’t wait to get back to church.’  “How amiable” “How beloved are your tabernacles…my soul has turned pale, it is yearning and longing, it’s worn for the course of the Living God.  The sparrows, the swallows, they have their place, place to raise their young, but your altars LORD, the place where the smoke is rising and the worship is taking place, where the blood of the lamb is seen everyday, O Jehovah of hosts, my King and my God.’  “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;”  ‘in whose heart are the highways that go through the valley of weeping, finding those hidden treasures, finding the rains from heaven, nourishing and sustaining.’  [obtain and read a copy of Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress]


The Inward Man Is Renewed Day By Day---We Proceed From Strength To Strength


“They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” (verse 7)  The Hebrew is beautiful, it’s “they proceed” there’s a process, how they proceed, how they move, it isn’t just going, they “proceed from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”They get to their destination, this is a pilgrimage, nobody gets lost on the way, we have a Shepherd who guides us and cares for us.  He says every one of them, ‘they go from strength to strength, they’re going to appear before the LORD,’ you know, from strength to strength.  Paul of course would say this, and we find it all throughout the Bible.  Paul says ‘We find, though our outward man is perishing, the inward man is renewed day by day.’  And he says, you think Paul would be the energizer bunny, Jesus appeared to him several times, you’d think he’d just go till he drops.  He says, ‘No, I’m worn out, to tell you the truth, every day.  I need renewal on a daily basis.  This outward man, this pilgrimage, this spacesuit I’m wearing, is wearing out.  The outward man is perishing, but the inward man’ he says, ‘is renewed day by day.’  He says, here’s the key, ‘while we look, not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.’  Things that are seen, temporary, things that are not seen, eternal.  And Paul says ‘And though this outward man is perishing, I find daily renewal when I keep my sights set upon those eternal things, the things that are not seen with the human eye.  My heart is filled with the highway that goes through these valleys, and I’m going from strength to strength every day as I’m renewed, to stand one day in his presence.’


‘Hear My Prayer, O God of Jacob’


He says.  “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer:  give ear, O God of Jacob.  Selah.” (verses 7-8) and I love that.  “give ear, O God of Jacob.” ‘what do you think about that?’  I do think about that.  If it said ‘Give ear, O God Joseph, give ear of God of Daniel’ that’s one thing, those guys were like sterling character, they never made a mistake, you know, ‘Give ear, O God of John,’  When it says “give ear, O God of Jacob” I’m right in there, he was a conniver.  And he’s saying ‘This pilgrimage, it gets to me, I’m trusting you, my strength is in you LORD, give ear O God of Jacob.  What do you think about that?’  You know, there are Jacobs.  You know one?  You have one, you married to one?  Your dad one?  There are Jacobs in the world, there has to be Jacobs, we need Jacobs, God must need them evidently.  There are Josephs and Daniels, sterling characters, never do anything wrong, they’re just different.  Imagine, imagine Joseph or Daniel coming to Bethel, laying down, and God showing them the stairway to heaven [not Lead Zeppelin’s version], they wake up, and there’s the stairway to heaven, and the angels of God are ascending and descending on the stairway to heaven.  Daniel or Joseph would have said ‘Wow!  LORD, you are wonderful, you’re beautiful, I can’t believe you let just a man, a frail man like me be in this place of your presence, LORD, I’m overwhelmed, what can I do?  I can’t believe that LORD, you let me be here.’  That’s what a Joseph or a Daniel does.  And Jacob, when he wakes up, he says, ‘Huh, what do you think, I fell asleep right under the doorway to heaven.  Alright LORD, look, I’m in this journey, here’s the deal, if you go with me, if you keep me while I’m there, if you prosper me, and if you bring me here safe again, I’ll give you 10 percent.’  That was Jacob.  Imagine saying that, he’s cutting a deal with God.  Joseph or Daniel would never have done that.  But look, Samson is going to tell us one thing about God, isn’t he.  ‘I was a fool, I gave myself to women, I was immoral, but in the end I was willing to let a little boy take me by the hand and lead me, no one had ever led me in my life.  At the end I was willing to be accountable to someone.  Never accountable to a priest or a prophet or anybody my entire life.  At the end God was gracious to me, and he gave me strength one more time, to have great victory over my enemies.  God was gracious.’  He’s going to tell us that.  David’s going to tell us that.  He was never the father or the king that he was after he fell, after he committed murder, but he was a much better Psalmist, and he told us about the grace of God in measures that the Church has been benefiting from for 3,000 years since he left.  Joseph and Daniel are going to tell us about the wonder and the majesty of God, about the ability to have a good spirit and to walk with God and to trust God, in his faithfulness and his worthiness.  We need to hear from all of those angles, who God is.  And it’s wonderful here, as he kind of sums up this line about the pilgrimage we’re all on ourselves.  He ends it by saying, I’m just glad he did, he said, “O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer:  give ear, O God of Jacob.  Selah.”  ‘LORD, give ear, bend down, listen to me, O God of Jacob.  What do you think about that?’  I think that’s great, that’s what I think about it. 


The Arriving


Now arriving, coming into the presence of the LORD, arriving in Jerusalem, for us arriving in our eternal home.  “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.” (verse 9)  He had in verse 8 said “O LORD God” so the idea is to have a flow, even though they’re divided by the “Selah.”  “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.”  One of the first things, when we get to heaven [going up to the Wedding Feast, and then coming back down with Jesus to the Mount of Olives to reign with him forevermore (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54; Revelation 19:1-21; Zechariah 14:1-15)], what’s it going to be like when we step there, and we come into his presence?  I think a lot of it’s going to be like that, “Behold, O God our shield” every worry is going to be resigned when we step into his presence, God our shield, no more fear, no more worry, we made it through the valley of Baka.  What do you know, we got through the valley, what do you know, he is the God of Jacob, what do you know…we’re going to step into his presence, and we’re going to say “Behold, O God our shield,” I know I am.  My guardian angels are going to go, ‘Wheh!  Am I glad that’s over.’  You know, God cared for us, he looked over us, “Behold, O God our shield,” and then it says, the Psalmist is saying to him,  “and look upon the face of thine anointed.” (verse 9b), it’s very interesting, because the Hebrew says, “look at the face of your Messiah.”  What are we going to say?  You know, we’re going to show up in heaven, we’re going to look around the throngs of angels and throngs of the redeemed, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, and the redeemed there, our family there our loved ones that went on before us, we’re going to look around and say ‘Ah, you know, I’m here, you’re my shield,’ and then we’re going to look, and there’s the One with the marks of slaughter, the Lamb standing in the midst of everything.  We’re going to say ‘O God my shield, look at the face of your Messiah, look at the face of your Messiah.’  The only manmade things in heaven, the scars in his hands and on his feet, the face that had been beaten beyond human recognition, we’re there with God who was our shield, he protected us from our sin, he protected us from our journey, he protected us from death, he’s taken us there, and as we stand there, ‘O God…look on the face of your Messiah.’ 


A Day In God’s Courts, What It’s Like


The realization comes, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” (verse 10a)  ‘LORD, to be here LORD, in your courts, is better than a thousand anywhere else, LORD, this is what I’ve been waiting for, I’m home, how amiable are thy courts, LORD, this is the place, standing here.  To be here, for one day, beats anywhere else, Club Med for a thousand years, doesn’t even compare.’  “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” look what he says here, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (verse 10)  ‘I’d rather be the poorest man in heaven,’ and their ain’t no such thing, ‘I’d rather be the poorest man in heaven than the richest man in hell.  I’d rather be the doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the luxury of the tents of wickedness.  I’d rather do this.’  And look, that’s a decision that no doubt we make now.  That’s a decision we come to, if he’s real to us, he’s the Living God, our hearts are stirred, we realize the journey that we’re on.  Somewhere in all of our other gifts and all of our other talents, and the Lord leads us.  Some people he leads to get a PhD, some people, I’m thankful, he leads to be a surgeon or a doctor, or dentists.  Some people learn to be a computer programmer, some people learn be interpreters and work with language, and I’m thankful for plumbers and I’m thankful for carpenters, God leads us in all of those ways.  But in all of that journeying, somewhere in there, you know, for the believing plumber and the believing President and the believing surgeon, somewhere in the middle of all of that, is ‘Lord, I’d rather be, Lord, I’d rather be…’  In fact, the Hebrew says “I have chosen to be,” ‘I made a choice, I’d rather be a doorkeeper in your house, streets of gold, walls of jewels, gates of pearls, I’d rather attend unto the door there, than to have everything this world has to offer.’  And I’m telling you, many of you have made that decision.  Anybody here made that decision?  [yup, even lost a wife over it]  Do your friends and your neighbours understand, or do they think you’ve lost your mind?  ‘Ya, they have so much potential, they have this going for them, I can’t believe it, they’re talking about the mission field, they’re talking about this, they’re talking about serving Jesus, they’re talking about the greatest joy in their life is the Lord, they’re talking about reading the Bible.  Why aren’t they reading the New York Times, why aren’t they reading the Stock Market? Why do they read the Bible today?  They say all this stuff.  You say to them, ‘That is your life, I have chosen rather to be a doorkeeper in God’s house than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’  Folks don’t understand that.  They’re not going to understand that, you have to know that.  But in arriving, it will all be so clear.  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield:  the LORD will give grace and glory:  no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (verse 11)  Look, “the LORD God is a sun” that’s the only place in the entire Bible where it says Jehovah God is a “sun” is a sun.  It says in Malachi of the Messiah, ‘The sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.’  This is the only place in the entire Bible where it says “Jehovah God is a sun”  Now we don’t know, you know, God led that way, because of the paranoia about the sun-god that was worshipped in Egypt, or Babylon, that God led the Psalmist never to say that.  But this is the one place, as he arrives into heaven, it tells us in the Book of Revelation there’s no need for the light of the sun or of the moon, there’s no candle ‘For the Lord God giveth it light.’  And he says here, very interesting, “the LORD God is a sun and a shield” he gives light and he gives warmth.  I don’t know about you guys, you know, these days, my wife makes me go Blizzard Shopping.  And not only does she want to do Blizzard Shopping, she wants to do Blizzard Shopping before anybody else does Blizzard Shopping.  Because she knows the Blizzard Shopping  tonight is a headache, so we go Blizzard Shopping.  But I hate being out in the cold, running in and out, you know, cold, cold, cold, cold.  I love just to come in the house where it’s warm.  I like cold weather, I don’t like being cold.  I have this parka, I bought this parka, it’s amazing, couple years ago, it’s like a $300 or $400 parka,  $379, and it was on sale like in the spring, like $150, and this is one of those parkas with this big furry hood.  And I put it on in the coldest days, if it’s 2 degrees, if it’s 15 below, I can go out in my driveway and mock the cold with that parka on.  And I’ll do it, I’ll just put it on and I’ll just stand out in the driveway at night, when it’s blizzarding, I have to come in because my nose gets cold, but I like to just put that on.  It’s hard to get into my drivers seat, there isn’t enough room between the steering wheel and the back, because it goes, it’s all this down, it has to shrink down.  But it’s incredible.  So I like the cold weather.  I just don’t like to be cold.  I love to get inside, I love when the wood stove is going.  Here it says, this is stepping into heaven, “the LORD God is a sun”, only place in the Bible.  There’s a warmth in our eternal home, and there’s a light there.  ‘It doesn’t need the light of the sun or the moon or of the lamp, because the LORD God giveth light to it.’  [see]  He’s a sun, it says, here, and a shield.  “the LORD will give grace and glory” he reigns in grace now, he’ll reign in glory then.  We’re pilgrims, so we need grace now, glory then, grace and glory.  I think last time I taught this I said that’s a great name for twin girls.  Any of you are going to have twin girls, my suggestion is name them grace and glory, because with twins you’re gonna need grace and glory [chuckles].  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield:  the LORD will give grace and glory:  no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (verse 11)  “uprightly,” the idea is “blamelessly,” not sinless, but just in the sense of ‘we’ve made our home in his altars,’ we understand redemption, you now, we’re there before him.  Ah ‘no good thing does he withhold from those who walk before him according to his ways.’  Which is the Gospel in Christ himself.  And it ends by saying this, “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” (verse 12)  Here’s the “blessed” in the plural again.  And it’s funny, as I was studying this, I have a couple commentaries written like early 1800s, and I kind of even like the old funky pages, they fall apart, I can’t bend the corner of the page because they break off all the time, so I have to mark it.  But the one guy there said, ‘The LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in him,’ and he said “That ‘blessed’ there is plural.”  Now this is like 1850-something, he said “You should say ‘The LORD of hosts, O LORD of hosts, happy, happy, happy is the man that trusts in thee.’  I bet Phil Robertson is reading this guy too.  “happy, happy, happy is the man that trusts in thee.”  Let’s have the musicians come, look, and we’ll lift our hearts, we’ll come before the Lord, and I encourage you to do this, as we’re singing, and if you feel like ‘You know what, I’m in the valley of weeping, Lord, I need you to adjust my heart, I need to be looking at this the right way, this is a pilgrimage, and sometimes I loose track.”  Ah, don’t be afraid to say to` the person next to you, ‘Do me a favour, would you pray for me?’  Or if you want to walk up and just kneel here and say ‘OK Lord, here I am, right in front of everybody here, ‘I’m in this valley Lord, how lovely are your Tabernacles, Lord, my soul is fainting, it’s longing for something this world can’t give me.  The swallows, sparrows, they have their place, they have a place to raise their young, Lord.  I have that in you, and I want that in you.  And know there’s a blessedness in having my strength, Lord, as your son, as your daughter, in you, because the highways of my heart are headed through this present valley of weeping.  And I know there are hidden springs and the showers of heaven for me, Lord, to sustain me.  And I know because you’re gracious I’ll be able to go from strength to strength, and Lord I am going to stand before you, I’m going to arrive, it’s gonna happen.  So hear my prayer O God of Jacob, O God of Jacob.  Because I know, Lord God, you’re my shield, and it’s going to be realized some day, and with the multitude I’m going to say ‘Look upon the face of the Messiah, look at the face of the Messiah,’ how remarkable…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Psalm 84:1-12, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


related links:


1. What are the three Holy Day Seasons?  See,


2. Our, the Bride of Christ’s Eternal Home.  See,


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