The Old Testament Jew had to physically go to the city of Jerusalem in order to be in God’s presence. God dwelt only in the Temple Solomon built. If you wanted to be in His presence, you had to go to Him in Jerusalem.
It couldn’t have been easy for the elderly or sick to travel over desert and mountain. It probably cost more money to make the trip than most people could have afforded.
Some parents today dread a two day road trip to Grandma’s with a few toddlers or teens in tow, even driving 60 MPH in air conditioning, a movie playing in the back seat, on paved roads and a McDonald’s every few miles.
Imagine a road trip on foot with whining kids, on hot, sandy paths with the sun blaring down, and rations of food and water on Daddy’s back. Bed time could have been on mats at the side of the road or perhaps a room in an inn in a town along the way. But if they wanted to be where God was, they had to make the difficult trip to Jerusalem. They had to go where God lived.
The writer of Psalm 84 longs to enter the courts of the Lord. In fact he wanted it so badly he said he was faint with longing. His whole being, body and soul wanted to be able to praise God to His face. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a sparrow that could build its nest right there at the Temple, to live close to God’s presence continually.
The writer of Psalm 84 would be blown away at the privilege we have after the cross.
We no longer need to go to God. HE CAME TO US! We don’t have to go to church, much less Jerusalem, to praise God face to face, to whisper in His ear, to walk with Him who is closer than a brother.
Of course, we know from Scripture, that privilege is reserved only for those who repent of sin, and receive God’s gracious forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. We live in God’s house, our bodies His Temple. I’m not sure we get the entirety of that truth.
Because sometimes we don’t even acknowledge Him, much less praise Him. It’s like that married couple who have been together for so long, they can go to a restaurant, enjoy a meal together, and not speak to each other the whole evening. They love each other. They are used to being in each other’s presence. But the old adage can be true: familiarity breeds contempt. (or at least apathy). The couple has grown comfortable with silence.
Does that describe your relationship with God? Are you so used to having His Spirit indwelling your heart you are comfortable with the silence?
I hope you’ll read Psalm 84, especially verses 10-12 and ask yourself if it describes how you view God’s presence in your life. Are you as passionate about being in the presence of God as the author of the psalm is?
I pray that you, and I, will walk with God today with the excitement of having Him with us. May we speak, think, act, with the blessed knowledge that our Holy God has come to us, to live with and in us in a real, vital, and amazing way.
Go with God today. Live intentionally in His presence. And rejoice for the privilege!