Do you want to be blessed? Psalm 84 tells us that blessing is found by staying in the presence of God.
Psalm 84 is numerically very complex. Here are some examples of the use of numbers in Psalm 84:
- In Hebrew the psalm is 108 words in length and the word for "Your dwelling place" has the same numerical value. (Numerical value is determined by adding up the position of each letter in the alphabet.) So, not only is the main theme of the psalm "the dwelling place of God", but it also determines the length of the psalm.
- The word "blessed" occurs 3 times - once in each section of the psalm. We are blessed when we stay in God's presence.
- There are 38 words in the first and last section. This places the middle section and meaningful center in the exact center of the psalm.
- There are 32 words in the meaningful center. 32 is the numerical value of the word kabod, "glory". When we live in the presence of God we experience His glory.
- There are 7 strophes, 7 verselines in section 1, 7 occurances of YHWH (Lord), and 7 uses of Elohim (God). Seven is the number of perfection.
Wow! Isn't it amazing how complex the psalms are?
In addition to the meaningful center of the psalm as a whole, there is also a meaningful center to Section 1 and another for Sections 2 & 3 together.
Longing For His Presence
At the center of the first section, a place of prominance in many psalms, we find, suprisingly, a verse about birds.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself
It makes me wonder if the authors, the sons of Korah, were walking to the temple one day to lead worship and one of the sons says, "Hey! look at all the bird's nests on the temple. I wish I could stay that close to God!" And suddenly they have the idea for a new psalm.
The sons of Korah start the psalm expressing their great longing to be in the presence of God. Why do they long for God's presence? Because in His presence there is:
- Joyful Singing (Psalm 84:2)
- Blessing (Psalm 84:4)
The longing for God is so intense that the psalmist says he "faints" for the courts of God - as if he is so thirsty for God that he feels faint. Do I have that strong of a desire to stay in God's presence? If we want to experience joy and blessing, then we need to have a strong desire for the presence of God.
Blessed In Him
Section 2 starts by once again reminding us that we are blessed if we seek the presence of God. In fact, the blessing starts when we set our hearts on God (Psalm 84:5). The psalmists paints a picture of pilgrims traveling to the temple, but figuratively it reprents all of us as we travel through life. Do I, like these pilgrims, have my life aimed toward God?
The word "Baca" in verse 6 can be translated "tears", so one way to interpret the "Valley of Baca" is the "Valley of Tears". When our lives are focused on God and lived in His presence, He is able to turn even the Valley of Tears into a refreshing rain and relaxing pools. God is always bringing good out of the struggles in our lives.
In verse 7 we learn that as we travel in God's presence we gain strength to continue our pilgimage - we move from strength to strength. Part of God's blessing is the renewal of our strength to keep living in His presence.
Hidden in this section is a reminder that those who live their lives in the presence of God will experience the glory of God. This section is 32 words long in Hebrew, which is the numerical value of kabod, "glory". The psalmist is letting us know that the glory of God is found in living our lives aimed towards God.
No Better Place
The third section begins with the meaningful center of parts 2-3
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed! Psalm 84:9
This verse stands out from the rest of the psalm because throughout this psalm the focus has been on the temple and God, but suddenly we have a two line prayer for the King of Israel, their shield and anointed ruler. Notice, though, that in verse 3 God is called their King and in verse 11 He is their shield.
I think the fact that the earthly king receives only 2 lines while the heavenly King is the primary focus is a reminder that our real protection is found in God and not an earthly ruler. In fact the earthly king needs the blessing of the heavenly King.
The focus then returns to the temple in verse 10. The psalmist would rather be a doorkeeper - he would rather be a minor figure in God's presence - than be anywhere else. Why?
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. Psalm 84:11
Wow! Why look anywhere else? In God's presence we are truly blessed!!!
There simply is no better place than God's presence!! God's presence is a place of:
- joyful singing
- favor and honor
- every good thing
Do you want to experience these things? Then let that desire become a longing to live always in God's presence.