Psalm 841 NIV New International Version Translations
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. 9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.
While David’s name is not in the title of this psalm, we still have every reason to believe that he wrote it. It is penned in David’s style because it breathes so much of his excellent spirit and is so much like the sixty-third psalm which he also wrote. The belief is that David wrote Psalm 84 when he was forced by Absalom’s rebellion to leave his city, which he lamented in his absence, not so much because it was the royal city but because it was the holy city. This psalm bears witness to the breathings of a gracious soul seeking God. It is a psalm or song for the Sabbath, the day of our solemn assemblies of worship. The psalmist with great devotion expresses his affection:
- To the decrees of God; his value for them (v. 1), his desire towards them (v. 2, v. 3), his conviction of the happiness of those that did enjoy them (v. 4-7), and his placing his own happiness so very much in the enjoyment of them (v. 10).
- To the God of those decrees; his desire towards him (v. 8, v. 9), his faith in him (v. 11), and his conviction of the happiness of those that put their confidence in him (v. 12). In singing this psalm we should have the same devout affections working towards God that David had, and then the singing of it will be very most pleasing to the soul.
The psalm is titled “To the chief musician upon Gittith. A psalm for the sons of Korah.” The “Gittith” is a musical instrument, by some supposed to have been used by the people of Gath, and by others to have been employed at the festivities of the vintage (grape harvest). Psalm 8,81,84. The sons of Korah is used to denote Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph, Korah’s 3 individual sons (Exodus 6:24; compare Numbers 26:11).
The psalmist says in verse 3 that small birds can live in the temple. But the psalmist is far away, verse 2. If it is the same psalmist as in Psalms 42 and 43, then he is hundreds of miles away! When he thinks about it, it makes him feel weak. In verses 5 – 7, he tells us about the pilgrims to Jerusalem. They may come on long journeys, but they really want to come to Zion. The “dry valley” in verse 4 is “Baca Valley” in Hebrew. The Baca is a tree that lives in dry places. We do not know where this Baca Valley was. But the dry place did not stop the pilgrims. They found water there, maybe the autumn rains. Christians have always believed that this verse means: when life is difficult, God will send help.
In verse 3, the psalmist calls God his king. But in verses 8 and 9 the psalmist prays for another king. It is the king of Israel that lives in Jerusalem. He calls this king “a shield”. The king stops other countries hurting his people. The word is not “king”, but is “messiah” in Hebrew. It means “anointed”. “Anointed” means “oil poured on”. This is how they made kings long ago. All the Kings of Israel were messiahs, but Jesus is the Great Messiah! He is our king … if we trust in him. Then we will be very happy, verse 12. Verse 11 does not say that God is the sun, but a sun. This means that God is like a sun. He is not the sun that we see in the sky!
Items for Discussion
- What are the things or places that we long for in today’s world?
- How would you describe the longing for God that permeates this psalm if you saw it in a person?
- Do you think that Christians today, “Long for God?” Why or why not?
- What is it about God’s decrees (commandments) that give you insight into the character of God?
- Where do you see the “humility” of the psalmist?
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Chapter 10 of the Gospel of John contains the following: The parable of the good shepherd. (1-5) Christ the Door. (6-9) Christ the good Shepherd. (10-18) The Jews’ opinion concerning Jesus. (19-21) His discourse at the feast of dedication. (22-30) The Jews attempt to stone Jesus. (31-38) He departs from Jerusalem. (39-42)
Christ is a good Shepherd; many who were not thieves, yet were careless in their duty, and by their neglect the flock was much hurt. Bad principles are the root of bad practices. The Lord Jesus knows whom he has chosen, and is sure of them; they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of Him. See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him, he laid it down of himself for our redemption. He offered himself to be the Saviour. He was both the offerer and the offering, so that his laying down his life was his offering up himself. From hence it is plain, that he died in the place and stead of men; to obtain their being set free from the punishment of sin, to obtain the pardon of their sin; and that his death should obtain that pardon. Our Lord laid not his life down for his doctrine, but for his sheep.
Items for Discussion
- How will you know Christ’s voice when you hear it?
- What must we do to be part of Christ’s flock?
- Why does it matter that Christ willingly gave His life for us?
- Why should the world gain hope in Christ’s words of verse 16?
- If Christ has already brought us into His flock, what then is expected of us?
- What can the church do to help people “Long for God’s kingdom?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations