Go From Strength to Strength

A devotion on Psalm 84

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1 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!

What a bright opening to this most delightful poem! Spurgeon calls it the “Pearl of Psalms.” It is as though you have just passed the threshold of a dear friend’s new home and you gush about their abode. How fortunate we are to be invited to be a part of this dwelling place. The preparations for the Temple were grand indeed and when the shekinah glory entered the sacred space, it was dizzying. It was a great picture of making his dwelling among men by sending Holy Spirit to abide in our hearts forever. Upon the union of the divine Spirit and our spirit at salvation, we dwell in him and he in us. That is the epitome of intimacy. That is the epitome of love and loveliness!

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4

2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

What does your soul crave today? Remember that your soul is WIDE, consisting of your Will, your Intellect, your Desires, and your Emotions. One of its foundations is desire. Wanting.  What are you pining for? The ‘soul’ is so tightly interwoven with the ‘heart’ that they are practically the same thing. The heart encompasses PAPDATE – your Passions, your Affections, your Purposes, your Desires, your Attitudes, your Thoughts, and your Emotions.

What would complete you? What consumes you so much that you pant for it? What invades your dreams? That’s an indicator of what you worship. Recalibrate your pointer, beloved. For anything other than Jesus that you desire like this will not fulfill, certainly not for long. He wired you that your most intense desires are met only in him. What your heart and flesh is crying out for is for the living God, not the passing and dead gods of this age.

This is why we must master our hearts/souls. They are the three-year-old in the store pitching a royal fit to get what they want. The bratty heart and flesh is as that child crying for what she just saw on aisle 7 and is certain she can’t live without. She flings herself to the ground and with everything within her, makes a show of it. Curb that friends. Walk away and leave her to make a fool of herself. Or grab her and abandon your almost full shopping cart. March her to the car to execute swift discipline. The words she needs to hear are simple “No,” or “Yes,” as the case may be. Do it a thousand times a day if you need to.

Ask Holy Spirit to nurture in you a holy spark for him and for things of God. Then do what you know you need to do to keep it burning till it’s a roaring fire that consumes you. This will be manifested in your relationship with God, your desire for his Word, and your love for fellow believers.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,

    where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Image result for swallow's nest

As a child, I watched swallows seasonally build nests in an outdoor of our home. They busied themselves fetching water to make mud which they then carried along with grasses and sticks to a favorable spot to start a home for the family. Sometimes the nests fell and cracked – and my heart with them. They went right back to building anew. I watched, spell bound as they darted back and forth, toiling for hours. They did this year after year, generation after generation, because they knew they had found a safe haven. This makes me think of our experiences in finding a church home.

May we crave it as a need to have fellowship with God and with believers. I’m not talking about an hour and a half on Sunday when we listen to someone talk at us and watch paid musicians entertain us. That is not church. What effort have you made to find like-minded believers to walk life with. Who sharpens you and pushes and stretches you in things of God. Who holds and upholds you? That is your church. Be as diligent as a swallow in finding that group. And if that nest breaks, by golly, get right back about the business of building another!

The great and small find refuge in his delightful presence. There we can be our most vulnerable. In our greatest moments of need, when we are spent and couldn’t help ourselves if we tried, Father will be our sanctuary, our soft place to land. He will be our place of protection from the weather and from the enemy. Close to him we will be, safe under the shelter of his wings. And while it’s intimately personalized for you, scoot over, because there will be brothers and sisters beside you there. His is a busy, cozy nest.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

Who are these fortunate ones? “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god,” Psalm 24 2-4. These are they that will feel at home in God’s presence. The problem with sin is it alienates us from God. I cannot indulge myself and my sinful desires and feel at home in his presence. I cannot drag my false gods onto his holy mountain. It is too tedious. Oh, I can “attend church” and sin with the best of them. But I can’t abide in intimate fellowship with my King and my God and simultaneously cherish sin in my heart. One will inevitably suffer ruin.

they are ever praising you.

To be with him is to be in awe of him. It is to ever be praising him. For there you constantly see and hear his goodness and his greatness. If you are looking to praise the pastor or the worship team, you are looking at the wrong thing. If you are miffed about the décor or the attendants, you are looking at the wrong thing. Look to Jesus alone. That’s what you came to do.

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

What is your strength in? What ability or possession do you have that gives you confidence, that defines you? You may have toiled for it and earned it. But it is not your strength. It can be taken from you in less than a moment. Not to mention that the strength to acquire it was a gift to you in the first place. May you lay it at Jesus’ feet as an offering.

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.” KJV

The word ‘ways’ refers to a busy highway. We live in the world and must attend to matters of the world, but may we frequent the highway, commuting our hearts back home to God.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs;

    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

The Valley of Baka is a valley of tears, a dry and thirsty land. As we saw in Psalm 63, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you,” Psalm 63:1-3.

His presence will turn your mourning into dancing again. With him in the wilderness, your cup will overflow to springs and then to pools of living water. He has a long record of doing that for his children. Lean on him.

7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

A vibrant walk with Jesus means you go from glory to glory, from strength to strength. Despite hardships on your pilgrimage to heaven, despite trouble and terror, despite tears and fatigue, your soul can go from strength to strength.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,”

Isaiah 40:27-31.

8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.

9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;

no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

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