A Passion for Worship (Psalm 84-85)

Scripture reading– Psalm 84-85

Today’s scripture reading continues in the Book of the Psalms, encompassing Psalm 84 and Psalm 85, but our emphasis will be on Psalm 84.

Psalm 84 – The Favor of the LORD

The author of Psalm 84 is undetermined; however, the recipients of the psalm are identified as “the sons of Korah,” who were numbered among the musicians of the Temple. In addition, the title states what is believed to have been an assignment of the musician and the instrument that was to accompany the psalm: “the chief musician upon Gittith” (scholars are unsure if the “Gittith” was a wind or stringed instrument).

The time or the occasion for the writing is not given; however, judging from the content of the psalm (84:1-2), it appears to have been written by a worshipper who longed to be renewed in the worship, and sacrifices of the Temple. As I read the introductory verses of the psalm, they give me pause to wonder if the psalmist’s passion for worshiping in the Temple is shared by believers in our day.

Does “my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (84:2)? The author even expressed an envy for the birds that made their nests in the eaves of the Tabernacle, for they were “blessed [to] dwell in thy house” (84:3-4).

He remembered with fondness the joy of worshipers making their way “through the valley of Baca” (i.e., of lamentations), and how they strengthened each other in their journey to Zion and the Temple (84:7). The psalmist longed to be near the LORD and in His sanctuary. He yearned for God to hear his prayers (84:8), and called upon Him to be his “shield” [small shield; protector], and to favor him (84:8-9).

As the psalmist reflected his desire to be in the Temple, and expressed his longing, he wrote of the blessings of spending even one day in the Temple courts as being better than a thousand outside that sacred place. He pondered that he “had rather be a doorkeeper [guard] in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).

What an admirable statement from a man who loved the LORD! He would rather spend one day in the Temple (the Temple represented God’s presence among His people), than a thousand days any place else (84:10a). He would rather be a guard at the threshold of the Temple, than dwell in the palatial tents or company of the wicked (84:10b).

I am not sure if our psalmist had been traveling and away from the Temple, or was exiled for some reason. However, his absence from the sanctuary of the LORD had enflamed in him a longing for worship that could not be satisfied until he was in the house of God (84:10b).

Why such a passion, and longing to worship the LORD? Perhaps the better question is, do I have that same desire for worshipping with the congregation of the LORD? Do I have a yearning to lift my voice in song, and study God’s Word with believers?

Why this longing for worship in the presence of the LORD? He believed there was none other like the LORD, Who is “a Sun and Shield,” and that He would not withhold any “good thing…from them that walk uprightly” (84:11).

Psalm 84:1212O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Psalm 85 – Grace and Peace

For the sake of brevity, I suggest three points for an outline of Psalm 85.

  1. I) The LORD is gracious, compassionate, and forgiving (85:1-3). II) The LORD is merciful, and He will deliver His people out of trouble (85:4-7). III) Salvation is promised to those who fear the LORD, and He bestows peace (“Shalom”) upon the righteous (85:8-13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith