Reveal | Day 3 - Feb 24 | Psalm 84

Bill Miller
Among short stories by Ernest Hemmingway, Edger Allen Poe, and O. Henry in the anthology of American literature used in my public high school was a selection from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The sermon, based on Deuteronomy 32:35, focused on God’s vengeance upon wicked unbelievers. For impressionable teenagers, the response was not the conversion Edwards sought. Instead, they read the sermon as revealing a God who is a remote, judgmental, and fearfully powerful deity. The nightmare God, one who is best avoided.

Thankfully, scripture has additional portrayals. Psalm 84 is a hymn for those seeking God’s presence. The psalm is one of joyful anticipation of being in God’s presence. Using a image of God’s dwelling (tabernacle, temple), the hymn celebrates being close to God. Being present with God reveals God. Thus, the psalmist can sing:

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. What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. 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. 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. O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

The psalmist’s response to encountering God is radically different from the image projected by Edwards’ sermon. Gone is the fearfulness and anxiety of encountering a vengeful God; replaced by the joy, security, and comfort of God’s presence.

We come into God’s presence corporately when we gather for worship and praise. As Christians, we are adopted children of God - a God who is always with us. Corporately and individually, we should welcome God’s presence with joy in the assurance of God’s love and care.

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