Dr. John Phillips said: “There are at least four ways to handle Psalm 84.
1. About 700 BC: We can go back into Israel’s history and picture a godly Levite, probably of the family of Korah which had charge of the sacred hangings, veils, and doors of the tabernacle. They were the “keepers of the thresholds of the tent” (1 Chronicles 9:19, NASB). The time was in the days of Hezekiah, when the Assyrian tide had surged as far as Jerusalem and then receded, never again to return. Throughout the devastated north scattered gleanings of the tribes had long since fled south to Judah, including the more godly of the Levites. But even in Judah it was not safe to go far, certainly not safe to journey to Jerusalem so long as Assyrian patrols might still appear suddenly on the horizon. But now that threat has gone. Once more, it was safe to move about, and pilgrim bands headed toward Jerusalem, the renovated temple, and the restored temple services.
One of them is our psalmist. Once, years before, he had exercised his ministry as a doorkeeper in the house of God. Now he is joyfully counting the days to the time when, once more, he will be in the temple courts and able to take up his duties as a keeper of the thresholds. In this psalm he is reminiscing about the past, thinking fondly, even enviously, of the little birds who nested in the temple precincts. And so He is on hisjourney home! As he tramps along the highways he is singing to himself a new song. It is Psalm 84. It is so good that he writes it down and hands it to the chief Musician to be sung in the sanctuary long after his own days are done.
2. Today at our house of worship and in our bodies B : We can apply the psalm to ourselves, in the age in which we live. We can sing the psalm as a song of the sanctuary. We can borrow its stately stanzas, making them our own expressions of love for the place where God has put His name and where His people meet together in worship with Jesus in the midst. It is a song of our gathering together, week by week, unto Him. Truly, if we are saved, we are going to love the place where God’s people gather to worship in the presence of the Lord.
3. Future millennial reign of Christ: We can lift the whole psalm out of history and regard it as prophecy. We can relate it to the coming millennial reign of Christ. We can picture the day when the scourge of Antichrist is gone, and the din and noise of Megiddo has been stilled. The golden age has come. Ezekiel’s temple has been built. The tribes have been identified, and the tribe of Levi has been given back its inheritance in the Lord. And here is one of them, a Levite of the unborn future, heading from his home in some corner of the country, making his first pilgrimage to the sanctuary now that times have changed, and joyously singing this psalm.
4. In the new heavens and earth: We can lift the whole psalm to even higher and holier ground. We see now not just Solomon’s temple in the days of Hezekiah and some wandering Levite on a pilgrimage; we see not Ezekiel’s temple in the golden age and a Levite delighting in the uniqueness of his place and privilege; we see not the local gathering of the Church and the joy of meeting together around the very present person of our Lord. Instead we have a psalm of Heaven and home! That is how we are going to look at it. “Lord, I’m coming home!” We are going to sing it as a psalm of the endless ages when, at last, we shall be safely gathered home beyond the surging seas of time. Let us see what this song has to say to us, pilgrims and strangers in the world, but heading for home.” A
5. Today with the heavens and earth the dwelling place of the Lord of hosts. The background in first video below seems to use this approach. B
How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” by Johannes Brahms This is one of Barbara Luke’s favorites.
Footnotes: A- John Phillips Commentary on Psalms. Dr. Phillips spoke every year at the FBC Pastors until recently. I still remember vividly his thundering sermons on the Psalms and had the opportunity for dinner with him several times. Exploring Psalms, Volume 1 (John Phillips Commentary Series) (The John Phillips Commentary Series) of 2 volume set on the Psalms. B- Henry Luke
For other posts on Psalm 84 click on “Psalm 84” in Tags below.
Henry Luke 7/1/2017