Israel Threatened: Chapter 83
In this Psalm, Asaph is pleading on behalf of Israel. War was a massive problem in ancient times and still continues today, with people wanting to rid the earth of the small country.
Asaph knows that if God is silent during this time… if He holds His peace, he won’t stand a chance. And neither will Israel! There was a violent uprising of enemies that were plotting against all the Israelites, both hidden and not hidden.
We still hear it today: cut off the name of Israel! It’s not a nation unto itself! Even then, there were those that united for the sole purpose of confounding and utterly destroying God’s people and His country.
You can be sure of one thing though. Then, as it is now, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood. The enemy doesn’t care about national status. He cares only that God’s people… Christians… will cease to exist. However that happens is fine with him.
The complete obliteration of Christianity has been tried all down through the ages. One good example, that is well-noted in the pages of history, is a Roman Emporer by the name of Diocletian, A.D. 284-305.
Diocletian, who is but a mere historical footnote these days, set up two monuments in the empire. The first bore the inscription: Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin.
The other was inscribed with: Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods.
Well, we see how that worked out for him, don’t we? Then, as now, God hides his people under the shelter of His wings. For truly, we are the “sheltered ones”!
Vengeance is the Lord’s
You’ll see, in verses 9 through 15, the Psalmist asks God to deal with these enemies. He asks that they be as stubble in the wind, and that they would become afraid of God’s storm, ashamed in the face of God’s glory.
And yet, in verse 16, he asks particularly, “that they may seek thy name, O LORD.” And he ends with verse 18, which says, “That men may know that thou, whose name along is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.”
In other words, as I like to say myself, “to God’s great glory”!
A Calm Respite: Chapter 84
After all that happened in chapter 83, chapter Psalm 84 is a complete respite. You can almost FEEL your spirit sigh! It starts off with a proclamation by the Psalmist of exactly what it means to him to be in the presence of God’s tabernacles.
In verse 3, he likens it to a bird finding a safe place to have her young, and then comparing that to an altar. Can you imagine!? Swallows are particularly restless birds, and if they can find rest in God’s presence, then so can anyone who has a restless soul. God’s alter is a welcoming respite from all the restlessness of the world, even when we load ourselves up with it.
Strength in God
A love for God, and for the House of God, seems to emanate strength when we are not able to be in attendance. For born again believers, these days we currently find ourselves in are HARD! It’s not easy to be away from the church, not fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters.
But the Psalmist knew that too. He spent a great deal away from the tabernacle himself and knew that it was a sad thing to suffer that separation.
But it did not keep him from still yet praising God!
From strength to strength, he says, goes everyone in Zion. Through dry places. Through long journeys. In hard seasons. In weakness. When we’re especially tired. We might have to stop along the way sometimes and regroup. But the respite only makes us stronger and better suited to face those things that lie up ahead.
Back to the Beginning
Just as the Psalmist began this chapter with complete adoration for God’s house, he comes right back to the thought as he ends this chapter.
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in tents of wickedness.Psalm 84:10, KJV
There is nothing more beautiful than the heart of a servant. Jesus became a servant Himself during the Last Supper, when He washed His disciples’ feet. He explained that He was offering an example to them and for them to go and do likewise.
He ends with the statement that God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly. In the Hebrew, this word means, “without blemish, complete, without spot, undefiled, whole.” It is the picture of completion in Jesus.
What’s more, common sense dictates that we are not forced to accept these good things. Rather, if we are lacking the many mercies He makes available, it is because we are not willingly accepting them in the right way.
Find your refuge in Him. There is great blessing in that.
Do you see the direct contrasts between these two chapters? And does Psalm 84 bring you the same peace I feel when I read it? It’s such a peaceful thing to rest in the Psalms that speak to the goodness and mercy of God. But we’re to always be mindful that He is just as righteous, just as “just,” and just as jealous of His children as He’s always been.
What really stood out to you here?
Lord Jesus, I cannot thank you enough for being the One Who shelters me beneath Your feathers. For being my Shield, my Sun, and the giver of grace and all good things! Help me to be ever mindful that I must walk uprightly before You and seek to know Your Word and Your Will for my life. Thank You, Father, that I can say, as David did, that Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). Or as Solomon did, in Proverbs 6:23, that Your commandment is a lamp, and your law, a light. I give you all the glory, and all the honor, and all the praise, and ask it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.