Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds David's cry for salvation and comfort in God's presence.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for Thy word, a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our paths, we thank Thee that it is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. We thank Thee that Thou has given it to us as a rule or standard by which to measure our lives. We thank Thee for the presence of the Holy Spirit who together with the word leads and directs us in our Christian life and service. We acknowledge Lord that we often neglect the Scriptures; neglect the personal relationship with Thee that should characterize our lives. And we ask, Lord, Thy forgiveness. We thank Thee for the encouragement that we receive from the word of God as we study it and ponder it, and we ask that in these few moments that have to consider a portion from Thy word, that it may minister to us and build us up in our faith. And we ask Thy blessing now upon our time together in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.
[Message] Last week we finished our series of studies on Israel and using Zechariah as the primary basis for our studies. Sometimes preachers have difficulty in deciding what portions of the word of God are proper subjects for ministry. And I think I’m like most preachers, I sometimes come to times in which I wonder, well now, what part of the word of God would be most useful and helpful to those to whom I minister and also to me. And I think I’m at a particular stage like that right now. So usually at a time like that, I think it’s proper and suitable for me at least to consider some of the portions of the word of God that you would not normally consider as a series of studies. So tonight what I would like to do is to ask you to turn to Psalm 84, and I’d like to just comfortably move through this particular Psalm and seek to elucidate its message as it appears to me for us with emphasis upon our own spiritual life with the Lord.
One of the interesting things about the Psalms is it is often very, very difficult to be sure about the historical background of them. Students of the word of God often tell us, and properly so, that we should study the Scriptures against their historical background. In fact, if you listened to messages on the science of hermeneutics of the science of interpretation, that’s one of the first things they will say, but when we interpret the Bible we interpret it in a grammatical, historical theological method. Now, sometimes I just call it grammatical, historical method, and I have added theological because I think that’s important. You may want to add spiritual. I’m not trying to make a point of theology, except to say that the Bible is different from other books. It is book written by God through men. And we don’t have other books like that, so the principles of interpretation of the Bible are not simply those by which we interpret other books. There is an added dimension to the study of the word of God that we don’t have when we study history books, or science books, or economics books or whatever.
Now the grammatical, historical, theological method says that we study the Scriptures paying attention to the grammar and syntax of the passage and we must also pay attention to the historical background, the culture of the authors, and particularly the culture at the time at which a particular passage is written. And usually our teachers will then refer us to some passage in which the historical background does throw light on the passage. But they often do not tell us, of course, is that there are many parts of the word of God that we do not know the historical background of. And the Psalms, in many cases, is an illustration of that. There are many Psalms concerning the historical background of which we do not have an understanding, no one does. It isn’t a case of I haven’t read sufficiently the technical commentaries on particular portions of the Psalms or that anyone might say. But there are just certain Psalms that we just don’t understand the situation out of which they arose.
Well, this particular Psalm is a Psalm, the background of which is very difficult to discern. I’m going to suggest one, but it’s only a suggestion. You may remember that in David’s history as king, there came a time, after he’s been king for a considerable period of time that his son Absalom not only rebelled against, but raised a rebellion against him. And it was necessary for King David to flee from the city of Jerusalem. Now, he fled voluntarily in the sense that the took it upon himself to flee, and a number of his faithful men and servants went out with him. But Absalom evidently had managed to gain the trust and support of a number of people, and they actually were planning to take over the rule of the land of Israel. And of course David knew that his neck would be one of the first to be taken, and others that were friends of his also. So for their sake as well as for his own he gathered together a number of people and they went into hiding. And Absalom raised his rebellion. And you may remember that Ahithophel, the close counselor of David, was the one who betrayed King David, one of the betrayers of King David. And Ahithophel was later hanged, and we know that in the New Testament Ahithophel is pointed out as a type of Judas who betrayed our Lord Jesus. And David being a very beautiful type of our Lord has, in his own trusted advisor Ahithophel, a type of Judas the trusted apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, a number of people went out with David, a number of people associated with the worship of God in the city of Jerusalem, and I just suggest to you that it’s against that background that one of the Qorahite Temple Singers writes this Psalm. You’ll notice that it has a superscription, “To the chief musician upon Giddith, a Psalm for the Sons of Qora” or by the sons of Qora. In other words, let’s just assume for the sake of this particular Psalm, and we’re not absolutely sure that this is the historical background, but it may be. And whatever the historical background, the force of the Psalm, I think, is true to that particular supposition. Let’s just assume it is one of the temple singers who loved the presence of the Lord God, who was a lover of the temple and the service, but was especially also a lover of the Lord God who has to go out into forced hiding with King David, but longs to be in the temple and carry on the worship of the Lord.
Now, you know we’ve been studying over the past few years quite a few of the minor prophets. And in the 8th chapter of the Book of Amos in verse 5 we have people who have just the opposite kind of spirit from this Qorahite singer. Amos talks about people who say, “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn. And the Sabbath that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small and the shekel great and falsifying the balances by deceit.” They were individuals, who wanted to carry on business as usual, but business as usual for them was cheating the public, and they had to observe the feast days. And so what they were saying was, “When is Sunday going to be passed so we can take advantage of the people again.” Or when is thanksgiving going to be over so we can do a few things to make some more money falsely. And they were individuals who did not have any regard whatsoever for the rabbinical system and what it was intended to portray. But here is a Qorahite temple singer, who not only is carrying out the worship of the Lord God in the tabernacle, but he’s anxious to begin his ministry again of singing. He longs to be in Jerusalem. He longs to be carrying out the ceremonies that signified relationship to the Lord God.
So he’s out in the wilderness and he longs to make a trip back to the city where he can begin his worship again in the tabernacle or in the temple, as the case may be. We wish we knew exactly the time, but let’s assume that he is a Qorahite temple singer. So he wants to get back. He wants to carry on his ministry, because he loves the Lord God. And he loves all the he was doing, because he looks beyond those ceremonies to the reality of them.
Now, this has a great deal of spiritual significance to us, of course. It is in a sense illustrative of the position that we have, because we individuals who are here on the earth to carry out a specific form of ministry. We are to worship. We are to serve the Lord. We have privileges of prayer. We have privileges of witnessing. We have privileges of all kinds of Christian ministry in which we should be taking to light. And so his particular Psalm is illustrative of the saint today who longs for the ultimate experience of worship with the Lord God in heaven.
One also can find an illustration in this, I think, of the remnant of the children of Israel. And thinking of them as those who pass ultimately through tribulation into the presence of God, well here is an illustration in principle at least of some of the things that they will feel. Perhaps also as illustrative matter, it illustrates our Lord passing to his home above and represents faithfully the kinds of attitudes that he had while he was here on the earth.
Now, with that in mind let’s look now at the Psalm just as a Psalm designed to express to us certain spiritual principles that should characterize our spiritual life. Now, in verses 1 through 4 the Psalmist writes,
“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.”
Now, Selah probably indicates the close of a particular stanza, a particular part of the Psalm. You’ll notice there is one here at the end of verse. There is another one at the end of verse 8. So the outline that I suggest to you is an outline based upon these two Selah’s. Someone has said that Selah, because it’s a term that we really have some doubts about so far as its meaning is concerned, was what David said when he broke a string on his harp. But it probably has to do with some musical notation, and the fact that it occurs at the end of verse 4 and again at the end of verse 8 indicates that we do have here a Psalm with three parts. And in the first the Psalmist expresses his passion for the presence of God. “How amiable are Thy tabernacles Oh Lord of hosts.” Here is an individual who loves the presence of the Lord. To him, to be in the tabernacle service is not something that he looks forward to as if it’s a burden.
Now, I know none of you ever look forward to Sunday and the service of Believers Chapel and the Lord’s Supper on Sunday night as if it were a burden do you? You never have the attitude; well I think I will go the Lord’s Supper Sunday night, because if I’m not seen there somebody’s going to ask me about it. And they expect me to be there, and so I’ll be there, because they expect me to be there, not particularly because I like to be there, not because I like to sit down and worship the Lord and have part in the taking of the bread and the wine and enjoying the time of reflection upon the word of God as I hold it in my lap. But I’m expected to be there, after all I’m a deacon, or I’m an elder, of sometimes minister of the word of God. Or they really think I’m a good Christian over there. So I’ve got to be there.
Now, you never have that attitude do you? I do. I find very often that I’m at the Lord’s table because if I’m not there somebody’s likely to say, “Where’s Dr. Johnson tonight?” And so because I don’t want them to say, “Where’s Dr. Johnson tonight?” I’m there, not because I really want to be there, but because I’m expected to be there. Now, I think there’s something wrong with me, and if any of you ever feel that way, wrong with you if that’s really the way you feel about the services of our Lord. We need to get down upon our knees and ask that God forgive us for having no joy in the meetings of the saints and in the worship of the Lord. I like the way the Psalmist puts this, because he really is putting his finger upon me very often. “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts.”
You know, he was looking forward simply to service in the temple. He didn’t have the privileges that you and I have. He didn’t even know what it meant to be indwelt by the third person of the Trinity. He thought of the worship of the Lord God as being at a particular locale, and he was right about that. Because remember, in John chapter 4 the Lord Jesus affirmed that. Salvation’s of the Jews. We know that worship is carried on, true worship, in Jerusalem. That’s right, until the time of our Lord’s death on the cross that was the place to carry on worship. But now we worship God in Spirit and in truth. And we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. So we have all of the extra incentive to worship the Lord God. “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts.” Is there really joy in getting down on your knees day after day and worshipping the Lord God? Do you enjoy his presence? Do you look forward to the reading of the word of God and having it minister to you? Does it give you a real lift, a spiritual lift, to do that? And if you realize that you have within you the third person of the trinity to lead and direct your worship and your study and witnessing and your service, why we should find this language here nothing unusual at all. It’s the kind of language that we should have every day. “How amiable is the presence of the Lord, O Lord God of hosts.”
Now, he goes on to say, “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the God.” He’s out in the wilderness with King David perhaps, and he’s not able to be back there where the Lord God is worshipped. And so he longs, he even faints for the courts of the Lord. “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Incidentally, this is one of the instances where the Authorized Version is correct and other renderings are incorrect. What he is really saying is, “My flesh cries out for the living God.”
Now, he will go on to say in verse 3, now remember, think about a temple and remember the temple had open places in it. And if you know anything about sparrows and pigeons and birds of all kinds, they like to make their nests in buildings, public buildings, everybody who works downtown knows that. People who work anywhere really know that too. So he’s thinking about that. He’s thinking about the temple and he says, even the sparrow has found a house and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young even Thine altars. He’s thinking here about the altar of burnt offering where the sacrifices were made, and the brazen altars where the priests washed their hands as they went in and came out in the temple service. And so he’s thinking about the wonderful privileges that the sparrows and swallows have that he doesn’t have at the present time. So God gives grace for worthless sparrows. Five of them sold for two Assyria, two farthings, and yet he cares for them. Grace for wandering swallows, this is what God does. I think that he’s thinking about the fact that he would love to be there and have the privilege of a sparrow or a swallow and be near the temple.
And then he concludes by saying happy are the lot of those who are not exiles. “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.” So this is the first of his blessings, and he thinks about the marvelous privilege of those who are dwelling in the house of God. How blessed are those who sit at the Lord’s Table and observe the Lord’s Supper. That, of course, is the keynote of the worship of the church. How wonderful it is to be able to do this. Suppose you never could do it again. Suppose you didn’t have the privilege of it. Would it mean something to you? Well, it would mean a whole lot to me. Not as much as it should, no doubt, but it would mean an awful lot to me.
Now, having expressed his passion for the house of God he’s thinking about a pilgrimage back so you’ll notice it’s as if in his mind he’s making the journey back to the city of Jerusalem. And so in verse 5 through verse 8 he will make a little progress toward the house of God. If he’s not in Zion itself, yet he can be with the Lord God. And so he visualizes the pilgrim who’s making his way back to Jerusalem. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.” This is a marvelous expression. This is the Old Testament way of saying the same thing that the Apostle Paul says in Philippians chapter 4 and verse 13 where he says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” I’ve always loved the rendering that one of the commentators has made concerning this. It may have been A.T. Robertson. “I can do all things through Christ who keeps on pouring his strength into me.” Because that word strengthenth in Philippians 4:13 is in the present tense. And the Psalmist speaks along those lines. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” How important it is that we keep in touch with him. In him is our strength, not outside of him.
He further says in the 6th verse, “Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.” You see, the individual who has the sense of the presence of God and who learns to draw upon his strength, he can pass through any circumstance, and he can find that the Lord God will be with him in it. And even though he goes through the valley of Baca, Baca of course is the word that is the transliteration of the Hebrew word that means weeping, so this is the valley of weeping. You know in the Old Testament more than one place has a reference to Baca as a place of weeping. And so, “Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well.” The individual who passes through the experiences of life that are trying experiences of life finds that if he relies upon the Lord God in them, they are not valleys of Baca, but they are places where the rain fills the pool. And any Palestinian would think of that as great blessing. So the way to him may lead through Baca outwardly, but inwardly it’s an opportunity for the Lord God to minister to us. In fact, someone has pointed out with this verse in mind that the way to him is the way out of the world. In other words, by learning to rely upon him we draw away from the things in the world that would be problems and trials for us.
I think of Paul and the difficulties that the apostle had. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 he talks about the thorn in the flesh. That was not a very easy thing for the apostle; it was something that he struggled with. It was called a messenger of Satan. And furthermore he said that he prayed for deliverance from it for three times, and then the message came to him that his strength is perfected in weakness. And then he said that he would glory in the experiences of life, even that fallen in his flesh, because he realized ultimately it would the occasion for the glorification of God in his life. So passing through the valley of Baca the apostle made it a well, and that’s the opportunity that you and I have. Think of the sisters Mary and Martha in Bethany when Lazarus’ death took place. And the experience of passing through the death of their brother was the experience that led them to ultimately the knowledge that the Lord Jesus was the resurrection and the life, and that whosoever liveth and believeth in him would never die. And that those who died would receive resurrection. And so the experience that was for them a tragic experience and an experience of suffering became the means by which they came to a greater understanding of the Lord Jesus himself.
Calvary is something that stills all of our questions, and the experiences of life are often the means by which we grow. We avoid them if we possibly can. We do not take advantage of them. We do not realize that God has given us these experiences that we might grow to know him better. We fight against them. And we lose the blessing of them often.
Now he says in the seventh verse, “They go from strength to strength; every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” It’s almost as if the nearer he gets to Zion, in his minds’ eye the stronger he gets. It’s like a person who gets in his automobile to come to Believers Chapel, or I’m not speaking of Believers Chapel as the only place where the truth is proclaimed. There may be a couple of other places in the world where it’s proclaimed as purely as here, but I’m just talking about a Christian who wants to go to meet with the saints and have the opportunity to meet with the Lord, particularly in a place like Believers Chapel and observe the Lord’s Supper. You get in your car, and what’s your attitude when you get in our car? Well, this is a burden, it’s getting worse and worse the closer I get to Believers Chapel. Now, I’m faced with going in and sitting down and sitting here for an hour, or an hour and fifteen minutes when it ought to be an hour. And I’m not going to enjoy this at all. And so the closer you get to the Chapel, the less you enjoy the prospect. That’s just the opposite of this individual. The closer in his mind’s eye he comes to Zion or to Jerusalem the happier he feels, the better he feels. You know why? Because his spirit is healthy. It’s not unhealthy. It’s healthy. And so he says, “They go from strength to strength; every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” So as he moves toward the city his strength multiplies. He thinks how marvelous it is to be in the temple and to observe the service of the Lord.
Now, in the 8th verse we read, “O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.” Well, this is a prayer that he might really realize what he longs for. That is the presence of the Lord. He longs to be back in Jerusalem. He longs to be in his temple worship.
Now, in the final section beginning in verse 9 through verse 12, you can sense, I think, that the Psalmist here has reached Jerusalem by faith. And so he considers that he has access to the presence of the Lord, and the service of the Lord, and the worship of the Lord in the temple now in his mind’s eye reflecting upon what he has been longing for. “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine anointed.” Now, that’s an interesting statement, and I’m not really absolutely sure what it means. If this is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, then of course what he would be sayings is, “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine anointed,” that is, thy Messiah. And receive us because of the Messiah. I tend to think that what he’s talking about is David. And I tend to think that what he’s calling David is the anointed one. Now, this expression the anointed “look upon the face of thy anointed” that anointed is the word for the Messiah. That’s the word mashiac, so we could translate this “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine Messiah.” Now David was a Messiah, David was king. The kings, the prophets, the priests were all anointed as they became prophets, priests, priests, and kings. Prophets were anointed, priests were anointed, kings were anointed. In other words, the prophets, the priests, the kings were all illustrative of what Christ would do. That’s why the experiences of David in the Old Testament, and the other kings, were ultimately experiences of individuals who were types of the Messiah to come. And David was a preeminent type. He is an individual who passes through suffering and comes to his throne, and thus a beautiful illustration of the Lord Jesus.
Now, if he’s referring to David what he’s saying is, “Do good for us because of David.” “So Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine anointed one” David, and because he is David, and because he’s the king bless us. Because we are servants of the king. Well, if he’s referring directly to the Lord Jesus, which seems less likely, the sense is much the same. If he’s thinking of David, David as the type, he’s thinking of the fact that he is accepted because of the acceptance of David with the Lord God. David is the king of Israel. He is the one who sits upon the Davidic throne. And in that sense he’s the key figure of his day. And so he says, in effect, look upon David the anointed kind, the type of the Messiah to come, and receive us, bless us because of David and what your plans are for him. Of course we look, and we look on to our Lord Jesus Christ, and our prayers are Lord bless us because of the Messiah who has come, the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are, as the Scriptures say, accepted in the beloved one. And because we are accepted in the beloved one, we say look upon him and receive us because he is our representative. All of our standing before the Lord God is bound up in that isn’t it? If we had to stand on our own we wouldn’t have any standing at all. But we know that all of our standing rests upon the Lord Jesus.
Now, in the 10th verse he extols the preciousness of the Lord God. “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” To fellowship with the Lord God leads to appreciation of the preciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. I like this expression, “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God.” Looking at that in the Hebrew text, the Hebrew word baharti is a word that means “I have chosen.” And so it’s not so much I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, as it is “I have chosen.” In other words, he illustrates the fact that it is important for us as individuals to make choices. People often misunderstand Calvinists when they say; we cannot make a choice for God of ourselves. We do not mean by that men do not have a will. How often do we have to say that? I guess we have to say it as long as there are people sitting in the congregation who say afterwards, I still think we have a will. If you do understand what the Bible teaches and you hear someone expound the word in pure form, and point out that the will is in bondage to sin and you go out and say, “I still believe that I have a will and I have to make a choice.” Well, I’m afraid that very little can get home to your mind spiritually. You are in blindness and dullness. We don’t say that men do not have a will. We say that they have a will but they cannot use their will favorably toward God unless the Holy Spirit energizes and motivates and enables them. In other words, God must jiggle our willer, but the willer is there. Now, if you don’t understand that you don’t understand the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its fullness. That’s just plain facts.
Now he says, “I have chosen.” He doesn’t mean I have the power of myself to do this. He talks above, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee,” in the 5th verse. How can anyone miss that unless they’re blind spiritually? We have a lot of people in the Christian circle and in the city of Dallas who are half blind. They don’t understand that. That’s simple spiritual truth. That we cannot exercise our wills favorably toward God unless we have the enablement of the Lord God. So the Psalmist says, “I have chosen because my strength is in thee.”
It would be nice to look at all of the other places in illustration of this. We could turn to Luke chapter 10 and hear our Lord Jesus commend Mary and rebuke Martha, because Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her. She sat at the feet of the Lord Jesus and listened to his word. And Martha went in the kitchen. And all those dishes were rattling in the kitchen. And she was doing something that was worthwhile; she just had her priorities in reverse order. The proper place to be is sitting at the feet of our Lord and hearing his words. Now cooks, that does not mean that you should not cook. But cook at the right time. At any rate Martha’s priorities were not right. And so Jesus said with reference to Mary, she has chosen that good part. It was a choice that Mary had to make. She was pretty good in the kitchen, too, I’m sure. But the Lord was there, and when the Lord visited them in Bethany, she wanted to be there hearing what he had to say.
One thinks also of Moses and the words that are spoken concerning him in Hebrews chapter 11. And it’s specifically said that Moses made a certain choice. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” And he made a distinct choice. He could have stayed, and he would have been the prime minister of Egypt, because he had that great office in the king’s house. And he had a great history, we know from tradition, mighty leader, various other things about Moses we were talking about recently in the sermon on Stephen and what he said about him. But he made a decision. He would associate himself with the hated Israelites. And would rather do that, be with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. And today we know about Moses. Even those who don’t believe the words of Moses know about Moses. But who knows about the other people in Pharaoh’s house? No one, because when you make a decision for the Lord God and turn away from sin, then God blesses, and he blessed Moses. And he blessed also this unnamed writer of this particular Psalm by including his Psalm in the word of God.
So I would rather, “I’ve chosen to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” And in the 11th verse he talks about the magnificent provision of the Lord God. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” That’s a magnificent figure of speech here. He’s a sun and shield, and I’m reminded of the children of Israel as they went through the wilderness, because God gave them the pillar of cloud in the daytime to hide them from the heat of the sun’s rays, and then the pillar of fire at night to give them light. So he was a shield in the day time and he was a sun at night for them. And that’s what he does for us. He cares for us in our deepest needs. He’s a sun and a shield. The things from which we need protection, well we have the protection from him. And when we need his help, his illumination, his enlightenment, that comes from him too.
And he says, and the Lord “will give grace and glory and good.” Preachers always like that because they have three things that begin with the same letter, grace, glory, good. Someone wrote a book on Romans and entitled it From Guilt Through Grace to Glory and exposition of the Epistle to the Romans by George Goodman, brethren writer. Well, one could say the true title of Romans would be “From Guilt, Through Grace, with Good.” Because he works all things together for good, doesn’t he, for all of the saints to glory.
One time I heard an old maid missionary, Elizabeth Trion, she as a missionary to Africa for I don’t know how many years. And I was in a conference in Pennsylvania and there were about two hundred missionaries there. And I was one of the Bible teachers. There were two Bible teachers, and we listened to the missionaries for one week, and the missionaries had to listen to us, the Bible teachers, twice a week. And Elizabeth Trion, she was in her seventies maybe beginning eighties. She had served on the mission field, I don’t know fifty or sixty hears. And she had never married. She was an old maid. She was a spinster. And she said, “You know, I have come to the conclusion after many years that a husband is not a good thing.” [Laughter] And everybody laughed and she said, “Yes, I’ve come to that conclusion because it’s biblical.” And everybody puzzled of course. And she said, “The Lord has said that he will not withhold a good thing from them that walk uprightly, and he’s withheld a husband from me. And so I have concluded that a husband is no good thing.” [Laughter] Well, there are probably a lot of women who could say, “I agree with you.” But let us hope that they are not in this auditorium.
Now the final verse says, “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” Have you noticed that the three occurrences of the word blessed, verse 4, “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house.” That’s said wistfully. And then in verse 5, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee.” That’s said resolutely as he makes his way in mind toward the city of Jerusalem. And then contentedly in verse 12 he says, “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
One of the greatest of the Scottish theologians is someone whose fame has not been spread very far outside of Scotland. When you go to Saint Andrews and you go there where George Wishart was really the beginning of Scottish reformation is burned at stake and there is a place out in front of the castle marked in the ground with a little plate about this size, “This is where Wishart was burned to death.” And then there is the castle. And then about a block away is the burial ground in a large ruin, and in that place are some very, very well known Christians who are buried. One of them is Samuel Rutherford. Everyone knows about Samuel Rutherford who’s read much about Christianity, because he was one of the chief authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith, a Scottish Presbyterian Minister, a man of God, and a Calvinist. And you can stand in front of Samuel Rutherford’s grave and think, “Here is a man who moved Scotland.” Right by his side is the grave of Thomas Haliburton. Very few people have heard of Haliburton, but Haliburton, many thinking men believe was probably a greater man of God, so far as his knowledge of divine things are concerned and his Christian life, just as respected as Samuel Rutherford. When we he was dying he asked them to read the 84th Psalm and to sing the latter part of it, “Lord God of hosts, my prayer hear; O Jacob’s God give hear. See God our shield. Look on his face of Thine anointed dear.” And he joined in the singing and then after prayer he said, “I always had a mistimed voice, a bad ear, but which is worst of all a mistuned heart, but shortly when I join the temple service above there shall not be world without end one string of the affections out of tune.” What a wonderful way to die. And how true it is. May God speak to us from this magnificent testimony of this man of God who wrote for our benefit too.
Let’s bow in prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the unknown author of this 84th Psalm, and we thank Thee for the way that it has ministered to us through the years, and we pray that it may continue to minister to us and challenge us and convict us that by Thy grace we may reach the place that we love Thee as this man of God loved Thee so many centuries ago. If there are some here tonight who have never believed in our Lord Jesus personally, who have never come to understand that he shed his blood that we might have life. Oh God, right at this moment, may they turn to Thee and give Thee thanks for that which he has done and enter into that personal relationship with Thee that means life…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]