The psalmist was in trouble! He was going through a “dry spell” according to Psalm 84:6 and he longed for strength, safety and refreshment. I am sure we have all been in this situation and perhaps even today you are discouraged, facing trial and temptation, insecurity or defeat. If you have a Bible with titles under the chapter headings, you will see the term “Gittith” under chapter 84. “Gittith” literally means “winepress” and refers to being tested and tried with a view to judgement. This gives us a clue to his situation. So the Holy Spirit has given to the psalmist an encouraging word to strengthen him and a timely word to pass on to us who often can relate to his circumstances.
First, the psalmist referred to the sanctuary (tabernacle, courts, Psalm 84:1,2). From Psalm 84:4 and Psalm 84:10 we understand he is talking about the temple or tabernacle where God dwelt. God had given Moses explicit instructions in Exodus 25 concerning building that first house for Him. In fact, in Exodus 25:8, God refers to the tabernacle as a “sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” What God is saying in Exodus and in Psalms is that His desire is to dwell with His people and His presence would insure their safety. Notice in Psalm 84:3 that even the most fragile and insignificant of birds can find rest in Him. So, in times of trial we find this sanctuary – His presence.
Second, the writer speaks of God’s strength. In this time of pressure and judgement, he was weakened and cried out for help. In Psalm 84:6, the “valley of Baca” means “place of tears” but notice that the “place of tears” turns into a well of water, refreshing and rejuvenating the weary and discouraged soul. In his journey (toward Jerusalem, Psalm 84:7) he found his strength in his faithful God.
Third, he stated that God is his shield. When difficulty comes my way, I need protection. The writer likely had in mind the scaly hide of a crocodile or other animal from which the soldier’s shield was made. Sometimes the shield was small but often it was big enough to stand behind and receive full protection. When the evil one (Ephesians 6:10-18) sends his darts of wickedness, discouragement and trial, I can run to the safety of the full protection which God provides.
Fourth, the psalmist realizes that his God is a sun. Finally, it seems the trial, the judgement is over – the sun is shining through. He senses God’s grace and glory and blessing. I am reminded of Malachi’s statement in Malachi 4:2, where, referring to the millennium, he calls Christ the “Sun of Righteousness” (arising) with healing in His wings.”
May I encourage you today, as those struggles come, some light and some severe, that, as with the psalmist, our God is a sanctuary, our strength, a shield and sun.
Post by: Dr. Robert Booker, NBBI Vice President
This article appears in the October 2010 Open Bible Bulletin.