Ep.188: Psalm 84: Highways of the Heart.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 84 paints some of my favorite pictures of a good relationship with God. Here are three of them:

First, the poet speaks of God’s temple in Jerusalem as God’s home. Of all the words that touch us, “home” is close to the top. The poet begins:
  How lovely is your dwelling place,
      Lord Almighty (v. 1).


The temple is not only God’s home, for the poet continues:
    Even the sparrow has found a home
        and the swallow a nest for herself,
        where she may have her young–
    a place near your altar,
        Lord Almighty (v. 3).

The birds have a safe place near God’s altar. What a wonderful picture! There where sheep and bulls are sacrificed in a river of blood, the flitting swallow makes her home where she can have her young. God’s presence is safe for all who come home to it. As the poet says, 
    Happy are those who live in your house,
        ever singing your praise (v. 4). 

Psalm 84 presents a second picture, the poet’s journey, his pilgrimage to the temple to meet God. He writes:
  Happy are those whose strength is in you,
      in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
  As they go through the valley of Baca,
      they make it a place of springs;
      the early rain covers it with pools (vv. 5-6).

Travelling a dirt road on the way to the temple in Jerusalem, the writer finds strength and refreshment. Because it’s not just a dirt road for his sandals, it’s a highway in his heart. His heart yearns for God (v. 1) and rejoices at the thought of visiting God’s home and the swallow’s home, because that is also where his heart is most at home.

A third picture in Psalm 84 is where the poet says,
  One day in your courts is better
       than a thousand elsewhere.
  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
      than live in the tents of wickedness (vv 10-11).
Better a menial task in God’s home than comfortable lodgings with his enemies. 

Let’s pray. 

Our father, when the poet was crushed by powerful enemies and drowning in seas of despair, he prayed psalms of desperation. What a welcome break is this psalm of joy and hope and homecoming. Thank you for shining a light into my darkness, for reminding me of a safe place where even birds can nest, for teaching me that my road to your presence can be a glad highway of the heart. 

We have built other highways of the heart, but today we leave them untravelled. 

One is a highway of fantasy, imagining and longing for easy relationships, wealth, and respect. But that’s a dead end highway, for our reality never matches our fantasies. 

We have built a highway of despair, when we have found life difficult and sad and unendurable. We soldier on in the dark , doing our duty, not daring to hope for the light. This is another dead end, for you are the light of our lives and you lead us on the highway out of darkness.

Some of us have a highway of self-confidence, where we manage our own lives, convinced that hard work and discipline will achieve the outcomes we desire. But that highway leaves us isolated and unhappy, and alone.

Today we choose your highway, the highway of strength. As the writer of Psalm 84 says: 
    Happy are those whose strength is in you, 
       in whose heart are the highways to Zion (v. 5). 
You are our strength, You are our heart’s home. With the poet, we journey from strength to strength. With the birds we rest near your altar.

 Fulfill for us the promise of Psalm 84, our Lord:

    No good thing will you withhold
        from those who walk uprightly. 
    O Lord of hosts, 
        happy is everyone who trusts in you (v. 12).

Amen

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.