In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.
Over the past fewLessons From the Psalms, we have seen that the book, subdivided into five parts, was seen to parallel the five books of Moses, with the theme of the first book, comprised ofPsalms 1-41, focussing on man and his relationship with God, and the second book, comprised ofPsalms 42-72, focussing on God’s deliverance.
The third book is comprised of 17 Psalms,73-89. David wrote only one of these,Psalm 86. Heman the Ezraite wrotePsalm 88, and Ethan the Ezraite is believed to have writtenPsalm 89.Psalms 73-83 are attributed to Asaph, a descendant of the musical guild in the temple known as the Asaphites. The rest are attributed to the Korahites, members of the branch of temple singers who were descended from Korah. This third book is thought to parallel the book of Leviticus. This may be due, at least in part, to the fact that most of the Psalms were written by Levitical priests to be sung by the temple choirs. The overriding theme of these Psalms is the holiness of God, reminding us that we must remember our place before Him, coming into His presence with reverential fear.
A key example of this theme can be found inPsalm 84. Written for the choir director by descendants of Korah, the introduction states that it is to be accompanied by stringed instruments, giving us the impression that the intent of the writer was for the song to be sung in the temple choirs. The Psalm helps us to understand one important fact: God, in His holiness, needs to be our #1 priority.
“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.” (Vs. 1-2 NLT)
Only when God is #1 in our lives, when He is our first love, should we come into His presence. Only when He holds this place in our hearts will we long to come before Him!
This theme is further revealed in the next few verses:
“Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!” (Vs. 3-4 NLT)
Coming before God for any other reason than because we desire to be in His presence would be a mockery to Him. He loves us infinitely, enough to die on a cruel cross so that we can be with Him (SeeRom. 5:8-10). His ultimate desire is that we long for Him as much as He longs for us (SeeIs. 30:18).
How can we know if our priorities are aligned properly? Here are some clues:
“What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.” (Vs. 5-6 NLT)
When God is our #1, His praises will be spontaneously on our lips. We will be dependent upon Him for our strength, and our hearts will be set on spending time with Him.
This isn’t only for the good times, either:
“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Vs. 6-7 NLT)
These verses help us understand that God’s blessings are especially for when we are suffering. It is the autumn rains that will clothe us with blessings, and it is those who are suffering who will grow stronger, and who will be granted the ultimate of blessings: to appear before God!
Another sign that God is our #1 priority is we willwant to be with Him:
“A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” (Vs. 9-10 NLT)
And why shouldn’t He be our first priority? Why shouldn’t He merit our utmost praise and reverential fear?
“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.” (Vs. 11-12 NLT)
There are times in my life when God seems so abstract. I’ve noted however, that these times all have one important thing in common: They alwayshappen when I have allowed something to avert my eyes from Jesus. Maybe some earthly thing has captured my desire, or some bad circumstance seems to be robbing me of my blessing. Or maybe I am simply too busy with the mundane responsibilities of life to even remember there is a God. The point is, whenever we take our eyes off of Him, we risk becoming apathetic, completely blinded to the joy that is ours when we enter into true, reverential worship of our all-powerful, ever-righteous Creator, our all loving, just Almighty God.
When you find that your heart isn’t necessarily yearning for the presence of the Lord, I urge you to meditate uponPsalm 84. I guarantee that you will come away completely changed, with your priorities realigned in the Heavenly direction and with your heart filled with reverential fear of the Lord.
Hey, my priorities may need some realigning at the moment. I am perhaps a bit too focused on an upcoming move. Maybe I will take a few moments and meditate onPsalm 84 as well…
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Lessons From the Psalms” mini-series, please click here.)