Saturday, December 31, 2005

Entering the New Year with Psalm 84 (part two)

Now we consider the beatitude of the pilgrims (vv 5-7), the worshipers who were going to Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles. The "blessed" include the people of Israel journeying (v 5) with the priests and levites living in Zion (v 4) (Tate). Both share in the blessedness of those who trust in YHWH Almighty (or, "LORD of hosts", NRSV).

This beatitude (v 5) is for those whose strength is in God and whose hearts are set on meeting God. As God's people we are those whose strength is in him and whose hearts are set on meeting him. Thus we are on a different track than those who are not his people. As the community of Jesus we are on the same track. And having the mind of Jesus we want to bring others along with us.

As these pilgrims pass through the dry "valley of weeping" "they make it a place of springs" and "the autumn rains also cover it with pools." (v 6). This metaphor points to those being blessed to be a blessing (cf., Genesis 12:1-3). God's blessing overflows from its recipients onto others. This could also be pointing to God's care of creation which is included in his redemption in the new creation (Romans 8:19-21 an interesting parallel here).

We can imagine the pilgrims while on their journey singing "the songs of Zion" (Psalm 137:3; note vv 4-6 there). These songs (including this psalm) would provide "a means of grace", being sacramental as the tunes help carry the words deep into their hearts. For that matter the "pilgrimage and festival are sacraments: visible actions become the means of grace and revelation of the presence of God" (Tate). One has to be careful here not to get carried away with what one is doing in such activites. But they need to be intent in looking through such actions for their goal, being "centered" in meeting God.

Such pilgrims "go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion" (v 7). One is reminded of John 1:16: "Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given." (TNIV) Again this is not telling those people (nor by application, us today) that we need to be and do this. It is describing what is true of them and us as the people of God, and where our destination is.

Tomorrow we end our look together at Psalm 84 as we enter into another year of God's blessing.

1 comment:

Desert Pilgrim said...

I realize I am commenting on a fairly old post, but this has truly blessed me today (along with part one on Ps. 84). Exactly where my heart has been today, truly fainting for the courts of the Lord.
Desert Pilgrim~