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How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place

Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:46
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"I don’t need to go to church, I can worship just as well at home. The preachers I listen to on Podcasts are way better than my preacher, it is a better use of my times to stay home and listen to them. Besides, the church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites.”
That pretty well sums up the attitude of many today. Nationwide, people who claim faith in Christ are attending corporate worship less and less.
But is it true that a person can worship God alone, just as well as in the gathered church? Not according to the psalmists, they loved God house and the gathering of God’s people in worship of God. They understood that:

God’s Dwelling Place on Earth is His Temple

Last week when I preached on Sheol or Hades, in the Greek language, I pointed to Scriptures that taught that main reason the Old Testament saints dreaded going there was because they could not worship God there. For example, Psalm 6:5:
Psalm 6:5 ESV
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
Yet there are verses that claim that God is present everywhere, including Sheol.
Psalm 139:8 ESV
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If God is present everywhere, why do the Old Testament saints insist they will not be able to worship God there? Because God is not present everywhere in the same way. The place where God’s glory and essence is most powerfully present is in His Temple. This is why the psalmists loved God’s earthly Temple.
Earlier, we sang these verses earlier, now let us read them.
Psalm 84:1–4 ESV
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
When Old Testament saints sang of their love for the Temple in Jerusalem, they knew that God’s true dwelling place was in His Temple in Heaven. For example, David writes:
Psalm 11:4 ESV
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
However, God desires to have fellowship with humanity here on earth, so He has an earthly Temple. The first earthly Temple was the Garden of Eden, then man sinned and was banished from the Garden. For thousands of years there was no Temple on earth, then something amazing happened: God instructed Moses to build a mobile temple called the Tabernacle! Now the dwelling place of God on earth was with man once again!
In time, the Tabernacle was replaced by a stationary building—Solomon’s Temple on Mount Zion. Sadly, Israel was just a rebellious as Adam and Eve had been and God’s glory departed from Solomon’s Temple and God allowed the Babylonians to destroy it. Not all was lost however, God in His mercy brought Israel back to the land and a Second Temple was built. But the glory of this Temple was not like the first, when its foundations where being laid, the people who had seen the first Temple wept. Why? God tells us, saying through the prophet Haggai:
Haggai 2:3 ESV
‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?
Not only did this rebuilt temple lack the physical splendor of Solomon’s temple, it lacked the spiritual glory (Kabod in Hebrew) of the Lord. Ezekiel had seen the glory of the Lord depart the First Temple (Ezekiel 10). This glory did not return to earth until Jesus came.
John 1:14 ESV
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The word “dwelt” means literally “he pitched his tent.” This is an allusion to the Old Testament Tabernacle. Jesus goes on to speak of Himself as being the true Tabernacle of God:
John 2:19–21 ESV
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
This is why the Apostles speak of the gathered Church as being “the Temple of God.” Jesus taught, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Mt 18:20) You see, where Jesus is, is where His Temple is! This congregation, as well as all other congregations that gather in Jesus’ name are God’s dwelling place on earth.
What makes this so special? It is this:

God’s Dwelling Place is Where is Glory is Manifest

If we have eyes of faith we can see God’s glory all around us.
Psalm 19:1 ESV
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
However, God’s glory is especially manifest in His Temple. In Exodus 40:34-38, we are told of how the Glory Cloud of the Lord filled the Tabernacle and then again in 1 Kings 8:10-11 how it filled the First Temple. This of course all prefigured what we read in John 1:14 happened when Christ came. Interestingly enough, we see the same visible manifestation of the presence of God’s glory on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:3–4 ESV
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
You may be asking, “I don’t see any visible manifestation of God’s Glory Cloud in the church today.” That is true, because each of these examples only happened at the inauguration of these Temples. But that does not mean we can’t see it, if we have eyes of faith.
Psalm 27:4 ESV
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
God’s glory is here if you would just open your eyes of faith. This is one reason we open our worship with a Prelude. Too often we come into worship with our minds focused on the cares of this life. The Prelude is a time for us to take a breath and focus our hearts and minds on God.
This is also one of the reasons God commands us to observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day we take a break from the everyday cares of life and focus on God. Listen again to the words of Jesus and perhaps you will understand them this time.
Matthew 6:31–34 ESV
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
This great truth of seeking first God’s glory with the assurance He will take care of the rest brings us to the final point.

God’s Dwelling Place is Where He Blesses His People

Let us turn our attention to verse four.
Psalm 84:4 ESV
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Verse four begins with a bold statement: A person will be blessed if they dwell in God’s house. This Hebrew word “dwell” is the equivalent of the Greek word we saw in John 1:14, it means to “pitch a tent” or to “tabernacle” in God’s house. People did not actually pitch tents in God’s Temple in the Old Testament. This is a metaphorical way of speaking of where their heart lived.
We have a saying in English, “Home is where the heart is.” Where is your heart’s home? Is it in the place where God dwells or is it somewhere else?

The Blessing of Praising God

The first blessing Psalm 84 mentions is that they are always singing God’s praise. We are not in heaven yet and we can not always be with the gathered church, but if that is where our heart has pitched its tent our whole life will be filled with the praise of God! This is why this attitude that we can substitute private worship for public worship is so wrong: The vitality of our private worship depends on loving the church, God’s Temple of earth!

The Blessing of Strength

The second blessing is found in verses 5-7.
Psalm 84:5–7 ESV
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.
Oh, how we need the blessing of strength. Just think of how often you pray for strength, either for yourself or another person. It does not matter what problem or challenge a person is facing in life, they always need strength.
Zion was the mountain where God’s holy Temple was in the Old Covenant, but even then, the saints recognized that the true Mount Zion was in heaven. In our hearts must be a “highway to Zion.” Only then will we find the strength to get us through the valleys of life. The wonderful promise found here is that when we do this, even the dry hot valleys will become places of “springs” and “pools”!

The Blessing of the Anointed One

The third blessing is found in verse 8-9—The Anointed One, who acts as our shield.
Psalm 84:8–9 ESV
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
In the original context, God’s anointed ones were the kings of Israel. They were called by God to lead the people in the service and worship of God, to protect them from all of their enemies and to provide for them. Even during the Old Covenant, the people knew their kings imperfectly fulfilled their calling, their hearts yearned for the true and final Anointed One—The Messiah.
It is only within the context of worshiping in God’s Temple with the gathered people of God that we are fully assured that the God looks with favor upon the work of His Anointed One.
Some people when they come into church can only see what they call “hypocrites.” Those who have eyes of faith see something totally different, they see Christ who “loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25-27)
As I said earlier, you can no doubt find a better preach than me on YouTube, a Podcast or T.V., but what you will not find there is Christ loving imperfect flesh and blood sinners just like you. We don’t come to church to hear a good sermon, we come to church to see Jesus, because Jesus is our only Shield against the accusations of the Evil One!
No wonder this Psalm closes with these words:
Psalm 84:10–12 ESV
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Let us pray.
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