Prayer Is Delight (Psalm 84)

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Some places have particular emotions for us.

  • The smell of grandparents house.
  • Nostalgia from driving by an old home.
  • Vacation or travel spots.
  • College or School campus memories.
  • Hospital… or Cemetery.

Likewise, there are some places you enjoy so much that you cannot help but invite others to go to, so they hope to have a similar positive experience.

  • Restaurants
  • Aquarium or Museums or Amusement Park rides
  • Work services

Psalm 84 recounts a person who has meaningful memories of being in God’s house. Longing and homesickness permeates this psalm. The aim in this message is to inspire you toward loving spending time in God’s presence.

Why We Pray - 2018

EXAMINE           Psalm 84        Prayer Is Our Delight / 2 principles for why prayer is delight.

Our spiritual life starts by our passion for God.

“To the Choirmaster According To The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.”

The superscription of this psalm makes it clear that it was used in the worship services as a song, and likely with a musical instrument (Gittith). When a person has a passion for something, it is often amplified and promoted with song (commercials, fandom, inspirational life). In other words, the Psalmist of 84 is passionate for God and wants to sing about it.

Ps 84:4 “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise.”

  • Bible commands us to sing more than any other command. Do you obey?
    “Sing praises to the Lord” (20 direct commands / 45 implied in Psalms)
    (Psalm 9:11/30:4/33:3/47:6-7/66:2/67:4/68:4, 32/95:1/96:1-2/98:1, 4-5/ 105:2/ 135:3/ 147:7/ 149:1/ 149:5)

“sing aloud” “shout” (Psalm 81:1)
“sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; James 5:13; cf Rom 15:9-11; Heb 2:12)
God sings over us (Zeph 3:17)
Jesus sang with disciples (Matt 26:30)
– – – > Singing strengthens you for trials (Deut 31:19-22; Acts 16:25)
– – – > Singing is warfare against satan and evil (Eph 5:16-19)
– – – > Singing prepares you for Heaven (Rev 4/5)

Quote: A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard it [music] as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs. (Luther, “Preface to Georg Rhau’s Symphoniae iucundae,” LW 53, cited by Buszin in “Luther on Music,” The Musical Quarterly 32, no. 1 [1946]: 85) We may not want to imitate Luther’s attitude, but we do want to imitate his passion for singing — because God himself is passionate about singing.

 

Furthering the passion of the Psalmist, observe the multiple names for God: Lord of hosts (4x; and is a military term for warfare and battle), LORD, living God, my king, my God, God in Zion, God of Jacob, Lord God (sun & shield). In the OT, names were indicative of a person’s character and capability. God’s names are varied to display the fullness of who He is and what He can do.[2]

  • Names of God increase your knowing God and walking with Him.

 

“Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young at your altars”

In the OT, the temple or courts of the Lord were identified with the presence and glory of God. The Psalmist is so passionate and homesick for being in God’s presence, he is jealous over a sparrow that nests itself at the temple. Sparrows are a small and insignificant animal. They weren’t highly valued and were sold for pennies (Matt 10:29; Lk 12:6). Yet, sparrows could fly and frequent with a nesting home to raise their young at the house of God. This is also a reminder that God dwells with the lowly.

  • Passion for God will consider the sparrows of society: widows, orphans, mentally challenged, unjust poor.

Overall, the Psalmist expresses a great deal of passion in this psalm. He describes God’s dwelling place with very emotional language. While our relationship with God should not be entirely based on emotion or experience, we would be greatly lacking without encountering God through our affections and whole being.

  • “How lovely is your dwelling place”
  • “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord”
  • “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God”
  • “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Psalm 84_10.png

 

  • God doesn’t just want our attention, He wants our affection – our whole being.

 

  • Praying passionately requires more than words, putting faith into action and practicing the discipline of prayer: for the duty of Jesus, the duty of the church, the duty of saving the lost, and the duty of seeing divine miracles.[3]

 

Our spiritual life is sustained by pilgrimage with God.

The entire psalm is intent on journeying to be with God. The Psalmist describes life as

  • 1-2, 4 longing for the dwelling place and courts of the Lord.
  • 5, 7 having life’s strength in God as traveling the highways to Zion (Heaven); “strength to strength” or day by day. 
  • 6 hearts set on pilgrimage / regular trips to temple

Pilgrimage was a common theme to OT believers.[4] When OT believers were disobedient, they were wanderers, but when their faith was formative and worship wholly devoted to God they were intentional in their pilgrimage with God.[5] A hymn writer captures the spirit of a pilgrim, singing[6],
This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

 

Pilgrimage is important.[7] “The world needs… People who see themselves as pilgrims prepare to journey into the heart of hell while on their way to heaven. Pilgrims believe one journey can impact the world.” Christian pilgrimage is believing Jesus was more than a renegade rabbi from rural nowhere, but that He was the Redeemer who made all things new through His guiltless death and glorious resurrection. Pilgrims are to sojourn this life with a standard of excellence and walk the pathway in manner worthy of imitation.

 

  • 6 Valley of Baca Literally the word means “weeping.”[8] Also, the place could be from Judges 2:1-5; where Israel was disciplined for future generations for their disobedience to God. Therefore, an application of going through the valley of weeping, spiritual dryness or even disobedience, is seeking the Lord for springs of refreshment and rain showers of God’s blessing. It is through adversity that we yield maturity. Pain is not permanent, we pass through with God’s help.
  • 8 hear my prayer, give ear (listen) are passionate pleas to God for relief of homesickness and fulfillment of hope.

 

  • Do you treat prayer with God and participation with church as optional or essential to your problems and pains? Are you acting as smart as sparrows who make their nests near God’s people? The Psalmist indicates essential elements to help, healing, and hope are praying to God together with the people of God. Praying with church family and other Christians is not about attraction (a draw for people to attend) but necessity; we cannot learn about prayer until we lean into God with all our power.[9] If we are not willing to intentionally turn prayer into a priority, then it is doubtful we understand God as our Father.
  • Prayer Experiences
    • Sundays 8/9am
    • Sept 23 School Prayer Walk
    • Oct 19 House of Prayer
    • Bible Groups – monthly or quarterly just to pray.

 

APPLY/THINK

As we consider our duty and delight with the Lord, let us reflect on final verses of Psalm 84.

v.9 look on the face of Your anointed.

Here the Psalmist is praying to God for Israel’s king. It is likely the psalm’s context is one of exile under enemy armies and unbelieving nations. The prayer is for God to grant favor and protection (shield) to the king.
YET, the psalm and prayer is also forward looking to the Messiah. Our shield and salvation rescue come from Jesus. We may experience personal enemies or national crisis, but our hope comes not by looking to government for rescue, but to Christ.
FURTHER, we must approach God humbly, asking Him to look on us through the eyes of Jesus; and helping us to become in practice what God declares of our position in grace.

v.10a one day with God is better than a thousand elsewhere.

v.10b doorkeepers of heaven > dominion in hell

  • Will your investment of time, talent, and treasure count for eternity?

Illus: There’s a story of a man driving in the desert and his car breaks down. He begins to walk and after a while becomes thirsty. He comes across a small market and asks the merchants for water, but they business men say, “Sorry, we don’t have water but we could sell you a tie.” The man graciously denies the offer and keeps walking. The journey is longer and his thirst increases, and he meets a caravan of camel herders and asks them for a drink of water. The herders say, “Sorry, we don’t have water but we could sell you a tie.” The man leaves unhappy and keeps walking, but now is becoming physically spent and panting for water. He sees a wandering nomad and asks, “Water, please sir do you have some water?” The nomad responds, “I have no water, only ties. Would you like to have a free tie?” The broken down man is exasperated and crawls further hoping to find water. As he looks up, he sees what he believes to be a mirage of a large building complex. He crawls further and to his surprise and joy, the place was not a mirage but a paradise oasis of people sitting poolside with swaggy umbrella drinks. The man approaches the entrance and begs, “Water, I need water.” To which the front door bouncers say, “Sorry sir, you cannot enter in without a tie.”

The moral of the story is that God will give us a variety of life experiences to which we constantly respond with choices. Every person and circumstance we encounter has a shaping influence on us that will ultimately prepare us for our final day to meet face to face with God. God is not a commodity to purchase but a person to cherish. We either treat God as beautiful or just useful… we must turn our passion to God as the greater priority to a thousand other things – even good things.

Psalm 84_11.png

v.11-12 God is the shield and sun, both metaphors of protecting and sustaining life. The absence of a shield in battle would be defenseless and risky. Likewise, the presence of the sun indicates light and life; new days
and fresh starts. The Lord bestows favor and honor and no good thing withheld, and is generous to bless those who walk uprightly – trusting in God’s righteousness.

 

 

 

 

[2] For a study on the names of God see: https://growinggodlygenerations.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/god-has-a-name.pdf

[3] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2018/09/09/prayer-is-our-duty-book-of-acts/

[4] https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Pilgrimage

[5] https://bible.org/article/wanderer-or-pilgrim

[6] Mary Reeves, “This World Is Not My Home.”

[7] Adapted from Brent Crowe, Moments Til Midnight.

[8] Kidner, D. (1975). Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 16). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[9] Jon Onwuchekwa, Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes The Church, p.96.

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