Where is your Temple? Where do you worship? Where do you find God? For the writer of Psalm 84, the answer to these questions is easy: the Temple in Jerusalem. This Temple was magnificent and beautiful, inspiring awe in all who entered its gates.
The psalm starts by singing her praises, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!” (1) Once you’ve been there, you never forget it; your soul longs to return. “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (2)
It is a place of rest where the smallest among us, even a sparrow, finds a home, “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.” (3) Truly blessed are those who live there, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise.” (4)
Those who are on pilgrimage to the Temple are blessed as well. “Blessed are the men whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” (5) They grow stronger each day, “They go from strength to strength.” (7a)
The Temple is so wonderful that one day there is better than a thousand anywhere else. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (10) The psalm concludes with blessings on those who trust in God, “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you!” (12)
This is a beautiful, simple hymn of praise. It includes a number of my favorite verses (1,3 and 10). But just where is this Temple? Is it only the Temple in Jerusalem? Or is it the heavenly Temple to which all who trust in the Lord are in route during this life?
While I enjoy quiet prayer in a church sanctuary, there is nothing quite like being outside under God’s canopy of sky by day, stars by night. I love the sights, sounds, smells and feel of nature. There is nothing quite like a spring day in Michigan, except, of course, a summer day by a lake, or a fall day full of autumn colors, or even a winter day of fresh fallen snow. All speak to me of God’s power and glory. There I find a home and rest from the worries of the world.
As I reflect further though, I realize, that whenever I’m in the presence of God, it is a truly blessed, sacred place. That maybe in a church or synagogue, or in nature, or just in the presence of someone you love. It can be the moment of birth of a new baby, or a sacred gathering around a dying loved one. It can even be in prison cells, if the spirit of God is present. No place is lovelier. I want to remain forever, and when I leave, I long to return.
Wherever God is present is a lovely dwelling place! Where do you find God? Is your home a place where God dwells?