How lovely is your dwelling place (Psalm 84)

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One of my most vivid memories of the time I lived in Jerusalem is the sight of pilgrims. People from every corner of the globe converged into Jerusalem for a pilgrimage, whether they used the term or not. There were processions, on Palm Sunday, from Bethphage to the Church of St. Anne. Crowds walked along Via Dolorosa to the Holy Sepulchre and there were crowds who came for the Festival of Tabernacles.

You could see the anticipation on everyone’s face and I still get that feeling of anticipation in my heart when I recall those experiences.

Psalm 84 is a pilgrim song, sang by pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem, to Zion, to worship in the Tabernacle. The anticipation was being in the presence of the Lord.

Verse 4 reads: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you”. It is joyful to be on the pilgrimage, but it is pure bliss to stay in the tabernacle on a daily basis, to be in the presence of the Lord all the time. Verse 5 goes on to say: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage”

And why is that?

Verses 6 and say have the answer: “As they pass through the Valley of Bacca, they make it a place of springs…they go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion”. God provides and strengthens the pilgrims.

That is the metaphor for the life of believers. Life is a pilgrimage. There are valleys and hills, even mountains along the way. God provides and strengthens and together we share in the anticipation of the presence of God, along the way and when we arrive at his dwelling place.

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