Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our Greatest Joy!

Ok, so I'm a musician right? So of course alot of my favorite scriptures come from the book of Psalms.. besides the fact that it gives us GREAT encouragement in times of struggling, but also because there is soooo much music swirling around in that book..Hence the reason why alot of my stuff comes from there.. Today I thought I'd be random and open up my bible, close my eyes and point at what todays devotional was going to be about and this is what God 'randomly' gave me.. Very exciting!

Psalms 84-1-12
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 2 I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! 4 What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. 7 They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob.
9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield! Show favor to the one you have anointed.
10 A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. 12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.
Ok.. so there are 6 benefits of worship that the writer in this passage records..This song was about the blessing of real worship and what it produced in the lives of the people of God that trusted Him. It was structured with two sets of six lines in Hebrew (84:1-4) and (84:8-11) that sandwiched in a small three line segment (84:5-7). Kinda like a PB&J, its the center of it that offers the sweetness.. He writes, claiming to find a place of LOVE or fondness there. "When I come to worship" he says, "I find a place of special love and relationship."

Then, he wites that worship "fills a hunger in him." (84:2-4). What is he hungry for? He longs to sing out (v.2), he desires to feel securely at home (v.3) and he desires to be with his family praising together. In short, he hungers to BELONG, and in the midst of his singing companions surrounding the sacrificial tables north of the altar - he can join the song!

A third benefit of worship is found in the sweetness of the center (PB&J, remember?), three Hebrew lines (84:5-7). The Psalmist uses a literal image to form a figurative idea. Hang on, it is worth it! He reminds the pilgrim that getting to Jerusalem requires a walk of hardened reserve (84:5) on a very arduous highway that passes through the wilderness east of Jerusalem. That highway was referred to by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan as a dangerous place (cp. Luke 10). The dusty and dry wilderness highway is barren for seven months of dry, and then erupts with a few sprinkles of rain (84:6) into a flowered and somewhat green pathway. The end of the tough walk is the Mountain of the Temple, where it all becomes worth the journey (84:7).

That's the image given, but that's not the whole story! The valley mentioned in the heart of the text is Baca, the place of weeping. This gives away the figure of the image. The image is a journey of difficulty through a valley of tears. The fourth blessing of worship was the surprise in the text: worship reminds and teaches me to persevere in the valley to arrive at the place of freedom! (84:5-7).
There are three more. No worries I wont neglect them!

The fourth is that I have a place to outwardly proclaim (84:8) that I need a spiritual covering over me! (the word "shield" is a word for covering, while the word for anointed is a reference to a pouring or covering by God!). In my worship, I pull the covers of the Lord back over my life!

Fifth, the writer reflects on his choice to stand in the courts of Levitical song and praise rather than in the tents of wickedness. What a graphic contrast - a vast stone built courtyard versus a flimsy and temporary tent leaning against the outer city wall. The singer wanted a clean and permanent place, not a lean-to of temporary pleasure (84:10). (where the worship song 'Better is One Day' is written from.. One of my favs!)

Finally, the psalmist offers a final blessing of worship (84:11) before he closes with the chorus (84:12). The last blessing he offers us a reminder of is that standing before God in worship, I receive new blessing, grace and every good thing is poured out that I need for my continued walk in Him!

The Lesson?? I love to worship God because He wraps me in His LOVE when I do. He fills me up with a sense of belonging when I do what I was created for - praising my God! He offers me hope and reminds me of the importance of resolve when praise comes through tear-filled eyes because my song pours from a broken heart. He pulls a spiritual cover over me when I praise Him. He brings me to a secure, permanent and wholesome place where He can pour on me everything I need to keep going. 'That's why I love to praise', the writer says! It is no wonder. The benefits are abundant!

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