Praying the Psalms: A Meditation on Psalm 84

I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible

84 How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! 

‭Psalm‬ ‭84:1-4

Psalm 84 is subtitled, “A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.” The Korathites were a branch of the family of Korah, whom we read about on Day 055. Numbers 3 tells us what the duties of the Korathites were:

2The clans of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, 30 with Elizaphan the son of Uzziel as chief of the fathers’ house of the clans of the Kohathites. 31 And their guard duty involved the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, and the screen; all the service connected with these. (Num. 3:29-31).

So as I meditated on Psalm 84 this morning, a picture formed in my mind of a Son of Korah, descended from Kohath, going about his duties in the temple. He is cleaning and polishing the vessels of the sanctuary. He’s making sure the lampstand has plenty of oil. He’s dusting the altars.

Then, he hears birdsong in the rafters. He looks to the ceiling to find its source, and sees that a swallow has built a nest for herself up there. He gets a ladder so he can climb up and remove the nest. But when he comes face to face with the mother bird, he sees that she is watching over her new hatchlings.

Maybe he thinks to himself what a blessing it would be to make a home right here in the Temple, day and night in the shadow of the altar. What a joy it would be to lift his own songs of praise to the rafters, like the birdsong of this swallow.

Heavenly Father, Your desire for me is that I would be at home with You. That I would long–even faint–to be at home in Your courts. That Your dwelling place would be to me the loveliest thing.

And, yes, Lord, a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere! I would rather have a nest of twigs and sticks before Your altar than a luxury apartment apart from it.

All morning long, the song “That Would be Enough” from Hamilton has been on a loop in my brain. I literally woke up with that song in my head. When I opened Psalm 84, I think I know why. Eliza’s song to her ambitious husband Alexander reflect what it might mean to value a day in the house of the Lord above all things. To paraphrase:

Just let me see Your face at the end of the day
And that would be enough. 

I don't need money
I don't need a legacy
You can grant me peace of mind
If I would let you inside your heart. 

I could be enough.
We could be enough.
That would be enough. 

Praying the Psalms: Meditation on Psalm 39

I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible

“I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭39‬:‭1‬-‭3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A church member hurt me deeply yesterday, Lord. I was angry at what he said. I wanted to lash out. I still do. I wondered if, as a pastor, I am just supposed to bottle it up, or if there is ever an appropriate way to confront him with how much what he said to me made me mad. I know it was wrong. I know it was off-base. And because it was directed toward my wife and not toward me, I feel like I would have been more than justified in going full Will Smith on him.

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭39‬:‭4‬-‭6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So this morning, Lord, I’m trying to understand the connection between verses 1-3 and verses 4-6. Why is meditating on my life’s end the remedy for bottled-up anger?

  • Maybe it is to remind me that life is too short to dwell on personal slights.
  • Maybe it is to remind me that eternity is too long not to cultivate a sense of perspective— that in the balance of forever I am in turmoil for nothing (v. 6)
  • Maybe it is to keep me humble, knowing my capacity for hurting others with my words as much as I was hurt by his.
  • Maybe it is supposed to comfort me, knowing that even the most arrogant and offensive person also stands as a mere breath before You (v. 5).

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭39‬:‭7‬-‭11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  • Maybe it is to protect me from being the scorn of fools (v. 8). You know what they say about getting down in the mud to wrestle a pig: It accomplishes nothing. You get dirty, and the pig likes it.

Or maybe I have to consider that what this person said, however misguided and offensive I thought it was, is actually a discipline coming from You, O Lord (v. 9). Maybe I am overly proud of how my wife and I are serving You in this season; and that having the validity of our testimony questioned is Your way of consuming like a moth what is dear to me (v. 11).

So now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. You alone can be trusted with my hurt. I may have righteous anger, but I can’t trust myself to deal with it righteously. Help me know how to speak the truth in love. Help me know how to deal with this.

Praying the Psalms: A Meditation on Psalm 5

I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.

Psalm 5:1-2, ESV

Father, sometimes I come to you like a little boy who has learned a new trick and wants his father’s approval. I say, “Daddy, watch me!”

Sometimes I turn away from you, like an awkward teenager with her first pimple. I say, “Dad, don’t look at me!”

Sometimes I come to you like a married man arguing with his wife: “Please. LISTEN to me!”

That’s how David is in these verses. He is the spouse in pain, pleading to his soulmate, saying, “Would you please just listen?”

Father, what was David groaning about? Why was he crying? Thank you for giving me the answers in the next verses. He is surrounded by the “boastful”; “evildoers” who “speak lies”; by “bloodthirsty and deceitful men” (v. 4-6)

In this Psalm, David models how to turn from pain to pain; from despair to declarations. Father, help me to speak truth about You back to You:

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice…
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness…
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.

Psalm 5:3,4,7

Oh Father, what confidence this gives me!

  • Confidence that when I’m the little boy who wants to make my Father proud, you delight in watching me!
  • Confidence that when I am the ashamed, blemished teenager You will not turn away from me, even when I ask You to.
  • Confidence that when I am groaning in pain, you listen to me with kindness and steadfast love.

Thank You, dear Father, that I can claim the truth of the last two verses:

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5:11-12
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