A Pilgrimage to God’s House (Ps 84:5-7)…
All who travel to the temple are blessed even as they anticipate worshipping God there.
As an elderly lady was being conducted through a great cathedral in Europe, the guide carefully pointed out the stunning beauty of its design.
He called special attention to its exquisite statues and wonderful paintings.
Being spiritually minded, the old lady was unimpressed with the external trappings of the building.
At the conclusion of the tour, she asked the guide,
“How many souls have been saved here this year?”
“My dear lady,” said the embarrassed guide, “this is a cathedral, not a chapel.”
Unfortunately, many large and impressive church buildings are just that—little more than ornate cathedrals built to impress people rather than truth-filled chapels where God is glorified.
Bricks and mortar should never be the chief focus of any church.
Whether their facility is large or small, impressive or plain, the primary concern should always be the genuineness of the worship inside.
Wherever believers gather to worship, it should be a place where the Word of God is proclaimed, the name of God is magnified, and the will of God is pursued.
What matters most to God is the pursuit of His glory, not the promotion of the facility itself.
In this sense, every church is to be a chapel, not a cathedral, a place where God’s glory is put on display.
This is the main focus of Psalm 84, a prayer of earnest longing for the house of God, but most of all, for God himself.
Not unlike other psalms in which the psalmist concerns himself with a deep passion to be in God’s house (Pss. 27; 42; 43), the author expressed a consuming desire to be in the house of worship.
He possessed a genuine zeal to worship God in the temple.
In Old Testament times, great importance was placed upon Israel’s temple built in Jerusalem where, admittedly, a unique manifestation of God’s glory resided.
Nevertheless, when the psalmist spoke of his love for the temple, he was actually thinking of God, whose greatness filled the temple.
This psalm pronounced blessing upon the person who trusted God, and ultimately, that is all that truly matters.
According to the superscription, this is a psalm written by the Sons of Korah, referring to the Levitical choir comprised of the descendants of Korah.
They had been appointed by David to serve in the temple as gatekeepers and musicians.
The psalm could have been written before or after the exile in Babylon (6th century BC).
It is attributed to the sons of Korah, and was compiled by David into the Book of Psalms.
It is to be sung according to the gittith, most probably a guitar-like harp associated with Gath in Philistia.
The psalmist starts out (v. 5) by declaring the blessing of all who travel to Jerusalem to be in God’s house.
There is no question as to the primary interpretation of Psalm 84.
It breathes out the deep longings of exiled Jews to be back at the temple in Jerusalem once again.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you. Those who find their strength in God are truly blessed.
Their faith in God transforms their own human weaknesses into a God-given strength.
The genuineness of their faith is seen in their pilgrimage to the temple, pursuing the glory and knowledge of God.
On their way to the temple, they pass through the Valley of Baca, an enigmatic name which is either (1) an unknown place or (2) a figurative place, representing a state of the soul.
Probably, the latter is intended here.
The Valley of Baca means “balsam trees,” which are those trees which grow in arid places.
Literally, the word Baca means “weeping” or “the place of weeping.”
These expectant pilgrims started out in a place of sorrow, spiritually speaking, until they make it a place of springs.
In this process, their broken, barren souls are transformed into blessed hearts.
The autumn rains also cover it with pools, picturing the replenishment and refreshment of their hearts by God.
The person who trusts and worships God may have his burdens transformed into blessings, even on his way to Zion, as he anticipates worshipping God there.
But the application I like best however is that of a godly pilgrim who is downright homesick for heaven. Let us look at the Psalm from this viewpoint.
Growing strong in God’s presence is often preceded by a journey through barren places in our lives.
The person who loves to spend time with God will see his or her adversity as an opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness even more deeply.
If you are walking through your own Valley of Weeping today, be sure your pilgrimage leads toward God, not away from Him.
After all, growth always takes place in the valleys and that’s where you dig the wells, not on the mountain tops.
And those wells that were dug by the Patriarchs of old became a watering hole and a Life Source (a foundation for future ministry) for those who are traveling down that same path behind them; and so it is with us today, as we travel through our Valley of Weeping.
It is in these valleys that God pours out His rain and fills our well, and we go from strength to strength.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Explore Sermons by Dr. Lloyd-Jones
THE VALLEY OF BACA
[David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.]
“Blessed 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 also covers it with pools.They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.”
— Psalm 84:5-7
Repentance prepares the highway for people to come into the presence of the Lord.
They need substance and direction for life; not only repentance, but regeneration.
From where does such a thing come?
In this sermon on Psalm 84:5–7 titled “The Valley of Baca,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at Christ as the source of encouragement for the believer, despite the circumstances he or she might find themselves in.
The result of such a faith is a clear view of life as a whole, and of self in relation to God.
Are the pains of life the result of others’ faults or one’s own sin?
Find purpose and direction for life, rather than living in a state of selfish chaos.
God withholds nothing good from those who walk uprightly.
Does one have a road to follow when calamity and trials come?
It is in this valley of Baca, one of tears and sorrow, that this psalmist’s joy springs to life.
Learn to rejoice, even in the valley of Baca.
Let troubles make the Christian consider the goodness of God and cause rejoicing; praise Him, He has overcome the world!
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