Psalm 841NIV 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 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 are those who trust in you.
We do not know who wrote Psalm 84. Some Bible students think that it was the same person that wrote Psalms 42 and 43. We call that person “the psalmist”. The psalmist is far from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wants to be one of the people that visit the Temple. We call these people “pilgrims”. Even if he could be for one day in the temple courts, that would be better than a thousand days anywhere else.
Study the psalm in 4 parts:
- Verses 1 – 4 tell us that many people love the temple, including the psalmist.
- Verses 5 – 7 tell us about pilgrims to Zion.
- Verses 8 – 9 The psalmist prays for the king.
- Verses 10 – 12 tell us about God.
In this psalm, there are several names for God, and several names for the temple. The names of God include:
LORD of (huge) armies. These armies are millions of angels that live with God in heaven. LORD is the covenant name of God. People that agree to love and obey him use it. The Hebrew words for “LORD of (very big) armies” are “Yahweh Sabaoth”. Our translation keeps the word “Sabaoth” in Psalm 80, but uses “(huge) armies” here.
- Living God. This means that God will always be alive and that he makes everything else alive also.
- King. This is not the king of Israel, as it is in verse 9, it is God.
- God of Jacob. Jacob is another name for Israel.
- other names for the temple are:
- the place where the LORD lives
- your house
- God’s house
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 kilometres 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 or her 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
- Many people find comfort in going to church and worshiping. What do you think made the temple such a special place for the Israelites?
- Many religions, including Christians, take pilgrimages to special places-what do you think draws them to these places?
- What are the ways that we can take the comforts we gained by visiting a church and extend them to our homes, our selves so when others are with us, in our homes and with our persons, they feel the same things as if in church?
- What are the risks associated with replacing church with other places?
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The apostle Paul wrote this letter when he was in a prison in Rome. He wrote it to people in the town called Ephesus. This was about 61 years after the birth of Christ.
At one time, Greek leaders had ruled Ephesus. Now the Romans ruled the city. It was the capital of the Roman region called Asia. It was a busy port and the centre of much trade. The temple of the goddess (female god) Diana (or Artemis) was there. The business people sold models of Diana’s temple there. But Paul’s preaching affected their trade. This caused confusion and trouble in the city (Acts 19:23-41).
This letter is different from other letters by Paul. The main differences are:
- he does not give any special greetings;
- he does not send a message to any one particular person;
- he does not talk about special problems.
Paul wrote the letter to encourage the personal faith of the Christians. It gives teaching, prayers and great praises to God. It is about God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He came to our world in order to put right all the things that had gone wrong. Paul makes clear that Christ is the head of the church. He will work out his purposes in and by the church.
Biblical Truths4http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.i.xi.vii.html From John Wesley
10. Brethren – This is the only place in this epistle where he uses this compellation5the act of addressing a person.. Soldiers frequently use it to each other in the field. Be strong – Nothing less will suffice for such a fight: to be weak, and remain so, is the way to perish. In the power of his might – A very uncommon expression, plainly denoting what great assistance we need as if his might would not do, it must be the powerful exertion of his might.
11. Put on the whole armor of God – The Greek word means a complete suit of armor. Believers are said to put on the girdle, breastplate, shoes; to take the shield of faith, and sword of the Spirit. The whole armor – As if the armor would scarce do, it must be the whole armor. This is repeated, ver. 13, because of the strength and subtlety of our adversaries, and because of an “evil day” of sore trial being at hand.
12. For our wrestling is not only, not chiefly, against flesh and blood – Weak men, or fleshly appetites. But against principalities, against powers – The mighty princes of all the infernal legions. And great is their power, and that likewise of those legions whom they command. Against the rulers of the world – Perhaps these principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness. But there are other evil spirits who range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed. Of the darkness – This is chiefly spiritual darkness. Of this age – Which prevails during the present state of things. Against wicked spirits – Who continually oppose faith, love, holiness, either by force or fraud; and labor to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry malice, envy, anger, hatred. In heavenly places – Which were once their abode, and which they still aspire to, as far as they are permitted.
13. In the evil day – The war is perpetual; but the fight is one day less, another more, violent. The evil day is either at the approach of death, or in life; may be longer or shorter and admits of numberless varieties. And having done all, to stand – That ye may still keep on your armor, still stand upon your guard, still watch and pray; and thus ye will be enabled to endure unto the end, and stand with joy before the face of the Son of Man.
14. Having your loins girt about – That ye may be ready for every motion. With truth – Not only with the truths of the gospel, but with “truth in the inward parts;” for without this all our knowledge of divine truth will prove but a poor girdle “in the evil day.” So our Lord is described, , 5. And as a girded man is always ready to go on, so this seems to intimate an obedient heart, a ready will. Our Lord adds to the loins girded, the lights burning; showing that watching and ready obedience are the inseparable companions of faith and love. And having on the breastplate of righteousness – The righteousness of a spotless purity, in which Christ will present us faultless before God, through the merit of his own blood. With this breastplate our Lord is described, Isaiah lix, 17. In the breast is the seat of conscience, which is guarded by righteousness. No armor for the back is mentioned. We are always to face our enemies.
15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel – Let this be always ready to direct and confirm you in every step. This part of the armor, for the feet, is needful, considering what a journey we have to go; what a race to run. Our feet must be so shod, that our footsteps slip not. To order our life and conversation aright, we are prepared by the gospel blessing, the peace and love of God ruling in the heart. By this only can we tread the rough ways, surmount our difficulties, and hold out to the end.
16. Above or over all – As a sort of universal covering to every other part of the armor itself, continually exercise a strong and lively faith. This you may use as a shield, which will quench all the fiery darts, the furious temptations, violent and sudden injections of the devil.
17. And take for an helmet the hope of salvation. The head is that part which is most carefully to be defended. One stroke here may prove fatal. The armor for this is the hope of salvation. The lowest degree of this hope is a confidence that God will work the whole work of faith in us; the highest is a full assurance of future glory, added to the experimental knowledge of pardoning love. Armed with this helmet, the hope of the joy set before him, Christ “endured the cross, and despised the shame,” Heb. xii, 2. And the sword of the Spirit, the word of God – This Satan cannot withstand, when it is edged and wielded by faith. Till now our armor has been only defensive. But we are to attack Satan, as well as secure ourselves; the shield in one hand, and the sword in the other. Whoever fights with the powers of hell will need both. He that is covered with armor from head to foot, and neglects this, will be foiled after all. This whole description shows us how great a thing it is to be a Christian. The want of any one thing makes him incomplete. Though he has his loins girt with truth, righteousness for a breastplate, his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit; yet one thing he wants after all. What is that? It follows,
18. Praying always – At all times, and on every occasion, in midst of all employments, inwardly praying without ceasing. By the Spirit – Through the influence of the Holy Spirit. With all prayer – With all sort of prayer, public, private, mental, vocal. Some are careful in respect of one kind of prayer, and negligent in others. If we would have the petitions we ask, let us use all. Some there are who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship, far superior to any other: but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations. And supplication – Repeating and urging our prayer, as Christ did in the garden. And watching – Inwardly attending on God, to know his will, to gain power to do it, and to attain to the blessings we desire. With all perseverance – Continuing to the end in this holy exercise. And supplication for all the saints – Wrestling in fervent, continued intercession for others, especially for the faithful, that they may do all the will of God, and be steadfast to the end. Perhap
19. By the opening my mouth – Removing every inward and every outward hindrance. This may be why we receive few answers to prayer, because we do not intercede enough for others.
20. An ambassador in bonds – The ambassadors of men usually appear in great pomp. How differently does the ambassador of Christ appear!
Items for Discussion
- What armor do we still use today? Think about sports, law enforcement, the military, etc.
- Is armor perfect protection?
- Take each of the items of armor, faith, truth, righteousness, salvation, the Spirit, the Gospel and prayer; discuss how each is effective in protection and see if you can tie your comments to Paul’s examples of real armor in our verse?
- How does a church become effective in equipping it’s members with armor?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations
- 4http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.i.xi.vii.html From John Wesley
- 5the act of addressing a person.