Friday, January 23, 2009

Psalm 84 - Joy in all Circumstances for Those Who Dwell with God

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” -Psalm 84:6-7 (TNIV).

Peace and Blessing that Transcends Understanding in the Midst of Pain

The Valley of Baka is the ‘valley of weeping,’ yet this psalm mentions it in the context of what those who worship and praise God do with it; they transform it by God’s provision through a peace that surpasses knowledge.

The non-believing many cannot comprehend this. They think that Christians who experience this quiet and chilled wonder in the midst of hurt and tragedy are crazy.

They cannot reconcile it because they can only know the pain. God, of course, is the great Anaesthetiser and Healer. His anaesthetic is beyond comprehension, though it is undoubtedly real and it works--taking the 'edge' off the pain.

Blessed are those who he finds a home with: “And how blessed all those in whom you [God] live, whose lives become roads you travel.” (Msg) In the Hebrew, this troubled valley of weeping is a ‘fountain’ of blessing; they are showered or ‘clothed’ with it.

The Dwelling Place that is God

For those who love and praise and worship God, they know how treasured an experience he truly is; they go on journey to worship him, simply to approach his courts. They stand still and marvel as they cast their gazing eye over his wondrous kingdom.

Merely approaching and considering the threshold (having not yet entered), the doting believer is a thousand times better off than those who simply exist in their carnality. Such a dwelling place is God that the simplest creatures find blessing with him.

He is the safest and loveliest Dwelling, an ‘amiable’ (LXX) experience. He is both sun (i.e. provider) and shield (i.e. protector) in verse 11. This Dwelling place indeed travels with, and is present, with his people.

The Journey to “That” Place

In verse 5, the believer has set their ‘purpose’ to go up to the Dwelling place. They have committed their lives irrevocably to their Suzerain covenant partner. Their hearts are “set on pilgrimage.” (TNIV)

They are aware of the many possible tumults they could face on the Highway, but their gaze is steadfast as they climb God’s mount one step at a time--for their strength is soundly positioned in him.

The believer knows that God wishes to bestow blessing and honour, but they don’t hold him to it when they’d wish for it; they know their place as the vassal in the covenant relationship--they are requisitely blessed.

The Believer themselves

Desperation in the most positive sense is the intrinsic heart response of the believer to their God in true Psalm 42:1 and 63:1 style. They have a thorough appreciation of the acts and facts of creation, and their place in it.

They’d prefer a place (as an ‘abject’ (LXX); a ‘doorkeeper’ (NRSV)) in the dungeon of their God than to live with the ungodly. The LORD is God and King to the one who praises, “the sovereign power of the universe and the center of my personal life, the one who makes all things cohere for the life I have to live.” God is summum bonum.[1]

The person that lives this life shall not be moved (Ps. 15:5) and their integrity will be protected. God withholds nothing truly good for these.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] James L. Mays, Psalms – Interpretation Series (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1994), p. 275.

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