Thursday, September 3, 2015

How Lovely IV - The God you've always wanted to be with

Based on Psalm 84
A Sermon.

Dwelling Places

Behold our shield, O God,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!

— Psalm 84.9 - 12


The psalmist has arrived! When you strut past the pearly gates and stroll into the Heavenly courts, what will be the first thing out of your mouth? What will you say to the Almighty? This is a scenario I imagine many people have considered. The poet says this: "Behold our shield".

The shield. A weapon of defense. The poet is defending his right to be there! What right do you have to stand in the presence of God? The poet goes on to state his claim: "look upon the face of Your anointed." In Israel's day, the hopes of the nation rose and fell with the King's righteousness. A good king will equate to a prosperous nation. Bad kings led to hard times. Just as Israel's hopes rose and fell with the righteousness of a man so our hope is joined to the Man, Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:17)

How Great it Is

The poet proceeds to use exaggerated language (Chiasmus) to express how great it is to be in the presence of God. He says:
  1. "a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside." In other words: "I'd rather have a short, devoted life lived in step with my God than a long live far from him."
  2. "I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Or: "I'd rather forsake all comforts for the chance of a glimpse of Almighty God."
While it seems like the poet is advocating a life of asceticism, note that this is exaggerated language. He is stating that if there were a choice to be made, his preference would be obvious. Being near to God has its benefits as well. For instance:

Blessings All Mine

In stark contrast to the previous verses which hint at asceticism, the psalmist describes the incredible blessings which flow from God to his creation. God:
  • Gives liberally - The sun shines without discretion on all!
  • Gives what is needed - We needed a shield, He provided himself.
  • Gives directly - We do not need a trickle-down effect, we have direct access and direct blessing in his presence.
God wants to give and give and give to his people. We enjoy these blessings as we draw near to Him and recognize Him as the Source of ever good and perfect gift (James 1.17).

He's actually always wanted to be with you

Until know we have been reading this Psalm from the perspective of the pilgrim who seeks close proximity to His God. However, we must pause at this point and realize that we are not the aggressors in this scenario. God is the one who is actually pursuing us. Consider this reading from Mackintosh:
God had ever moved in the fullest sympathy with his people. When they were plunged in the furnace of Egyptian bondage, He was in the burning bush: when they were treading their long and dreary journey across the burning desert, his chariot travelled in company with them all the way. When they stood beneath the frowning walls of Jericho, He was there as a man of war, with a drawn sword in his hand, to act for, and in sympathy with, them. Thus, at all times, God and his Israel were together. While they toiled, he toiled, and until they could rest, he would not rest.

C.H. Mackintosh
David's House and the House of God
This is the God we have always wanted to be with, but as we look back on the journey we find that this is the God who has always wanted to be with us. He took the necessary steps to bring us into His presence and give us rest. He wants us to feel at home in His presence. He doesn't want us to constantly look over our shoulder or fear expulsion. We can rest in Him. He is home.


Have you stopped to consider the age-old question: "If God were to ask why He should let you into His kingdom what would you say?" Take a few moments and carefully consider your answer. Maybe write it down and read it back. Realize that He wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with Him — potentially more than you want to be with Him. He is willing to sacrifice Himself for your sake.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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