God’s Sweet, Sweet Presence

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

Psalm 84:1

If ever there was a great Psalm for meditation and for calming one’s nerves, heart and soul, it would be Psalm 84. And wanting to write a blog about it, it seems often I can do nothing other than quote or rephrase the Psalm. Yet I feel compelled to write. Let’s see where this leads.

How lovely, how pleasant, how loving, is the place that the Lord dwells — the place He lives, the place He inhabits. Lovely seems like an awfully weak word, yet it also seems perfect. If I were writing the Psalm, I would probably have written how awesome, how WOW, how incredibly WOW is the Lord’s dwelling place. (Not much of a writer, am I?) But in his word “lovely,” the writer of the Psalm has caught the very essence of being in God’s presence – sweet, peace that overrides and carries through everything else. Yes, God’s presence is awesome and full of the WOW factor, but when all is said and done it is the sweet peace of the Lord that remains. How lovely is the place that the Lord inhabits.

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Psalm 84:2

Having tasted that sweetness of the Lord, nothing else satisfies and we long for His presence again. Lord may I experience the sweetness of Your touch, the loveliness of Your presence so regularly that when I stray, I remember it and long to return. Lord, may my heart and flesh cry out for the Living God in the darkest of times and in the brightest of times.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:3

Can you hear the psalmist’s heart? I hear jealousy that even the sparrow and the swallow can dwell near God’s altar, living there when the Psalmist must leave to attend to life. I also hear reverence – a place near God’s altar where she may give birth to and raise her young. What a privilege to do so near the heart of God.

Notice, also, that the Psalmist has begun to make a shift here, from God’s dwelling place to created beings dwelling near God. We’ll see that shift fully materialize in next verse. First, I want to look at the concept of the altar a bit more.

What’s the purpose of an altar? Altars were where the sacrifices were made. We think of an altar as a nice clean kneeling bench or something similar, but it was a place where blood was shed for the temporary forgiveness of sin of the Israelites. It was a bloody, gory place…yet it was lovely to David because He had experienced the forgiveness of sins. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a lovely, sweet, place because it represents the presence of God as the One who forgives sins.

Do you know that mighty presence of God? Do you know that sweet Spirit that follows the “WOW” of God’s awesome presence? Do you know that your sins have been forgiven? Scripture teaches that God is faithful to forgive sins when we ask (1 John 1:9). If you’re unsure, ask today. He will faithfully forgive your sins and you can begin to experience the sweetness of peace with God.

Then spend some time in God’s dwelling place – His presence. Don’t wait for church on Sunday or prayer meeting on Wednesday night or your next small group meeting. Enjoy your own private audience with the Lord today.

The next blog will look at the blessings that come from dwelling with God according to verses 4 through 7.

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