Saturday, February 4, 2017

Psalm 84

At the start of this week I read the eighty-fourth Psalm during the Lord’s Supper. I don’t think my thoughts were very clear then, and I want to attempt to share them here.

The psalm starts out with the Chief Musician, which suggests it's at least partly Messianic.

As the Psalm opens, it tells us about an altar that's apparently abandoned: the sparrow and the swallow feel safe in building their nests and raising their young on it. We're told it's the altar of the Lord of Hosts, but it's apparently no longer in use (Psalm 84:3).

The unused altar suggests to us the need for sacrifice is over. It brings us to the state of affairs we see in Hebrews 10: one sacrifice has put away sins forever (Hebrews 10:11–13).

As we look further in the Psalm we come to two types of person: there are those who dwell in the Lord’s house (Psalm 84:4), and there is "the Man" whose strength is the Lord (Psalm 84:5). We understand it's because of this one Man that "they" can dwell in God’s house.

What is the prayer of those dwelling in God's house? It's "Look on the face of Your Annointed” (Psalm 84:9). That's our prayer too – "Don't look at me Lord, look at Him." This is our acceptance with God: He has looked in Christ and seen everything that He could look for in man. Christ is our "wisdom from God, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

J. N. Darby said, “The Christian is humble... because he has given up seeking good in himself to adore the One in whom there is nothing else” (J. N. Darby, "On Mysticism", Collected Writings, Vol. 32). That is really what it means to be “in Christ” – having no righteousness of my own (Philippians 3:9).

Finally the Psalm ends with a blessing: blessed is the Man who trusts in God (Psalm 84:12). The Pharisees accused Christ of trusting in God (Matthew 27:43). We bless that same Man.


Susan said...

Concerning being in Christ and having no righteousness of our own:

If God announces the gift of righteousness apart from works, why do you keep mourning over
your bad works, your failures? DO you not see that it is because you still have hopes in these works
of yours that you are depressed and discouraged by their failure? If you truly saw and believed that
God is reckoning righteous the ungodly who believe on Him, you would fairly hate your struggles
to be “better”; for you would see that your dreams of good works have not at all commended you
to God, and that your bad works do not at all hinder you from believing on Him,—that justifieth
the ungodly!
Therefore, on seeing your failures, you should say, I am nothing but a failure; but God is dealing
with me on another principle altogether than my works, good or bad,—a principle not involving
my works, but based only on the work of Christ for me. I am anxious, indeed, to be pleasing to
God and to be filled with His Spirit; but I am not at all justified, or accounted righteous, by these
things. God, in justifying me, acted wholly and only on Christ’s blood-shedding on my behalf.
Therefore I have this double attitude: first, I know that Christ is in Heaven before God for me,
and that I stand in the value before God of His finished work; that God sees me nowhere else but
in this dead, buried, and Risen Christ, and that His favor is toward me in Christ, and is limitless
and eternal.
Then, second, toward the work of the Holy Spirit in me, my attitude is, a desire to be guided
into the truth, to be obedient thereto, and to be chastened by God my Father if disobedient; to learn
to pray in the Spirit, to walk by the Spirit, and to be filled with a love for the Scriptures and for the
saints and for all men.
Yet none of these things justifies me! I had justification from God as a sinner, not as a saint!
My saintliness does not increase it, nor, praise God, do my failures decrease it!
William R. Newell

Robert said...

Susan - amen to that. I have recommended Newell to a number of young people recently.
Mark - Is it reasonable to assume that the altars were not in use, in view of Psalms 43:7, 51:9, 118:27?

Colossians 3:1. I would suggest that to seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God involves developing a daily mindset (set your mind) where we recognise that Christ sitting means that His work is accepted and that Christ at the right hand of God shows His nearness. What a difference If we began, continued and ended each day with these twothoughts before us. Christ is accepted; therefore I am accepted, He is near to God; therefore I am near to God.

HandWrittenWord said...

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.
(Jeremiah 17:7)

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble;
and He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)

Susan said...

"What a difference If we began, continued and ended each day with these twothoughts before us. Christ is accepted; therefore I am accepted, He is near to God; therefore I am near to God." Wonderful thoughts, Robert!
You meant Psalm 43:4, right??? :-)

Anonymous said...

Ha ha - yes v.4 I should stop using an iPad to comment.

clumsy ox said...

It's hard to read the last twelve chapters of Ezekiel and come away thinking there won't be animal sacrifices in the millennial kingdom.

I've been meditating in Psalm 84 for several years, trying to understand how the altar - on which there was to be a continual burnt offering (Exodus 29:42) - is a safe place for the sparrow to nest.

There is a juxtaposition here with Psalm 102:7. Surely it's because One was alone like a sparrow on a rooftop that this other sparrow can nest on the altar.

Thanks for the quote by Newell! That's a lesson I'm slow to learn.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps nesting "at or near" the alter rather than "on" the alter is the way to look at this.
Yes, I agree with you concerning animal sacrifices in the millennial kingdom.

Found this:


Robert said...

There is a Jewish bible translation: Psalm 84:4 As the sparrow finds herself a home and the swallow her nest, where she lays her young, so my resting-place is by your altars, Adonai-Tzva’ot, my king and my God.

So I wonder if it's just a matter of punctuation? Even the humble sparrow has a home and he is expressing his desire to rest by the altar. And this would strengthen your post - he wanted to rest where God has rested.