A recent infographic about the war in Ukraine shook me. It highlighted the vast numbers of refugees (over 6.5 million people) crossing into neighbouring countries between February and May 2022. And behind every single number is a personal crisis, an uprooting, a longing for home.
This Psalm describes the experience of ‘pilgrimage’: being on a journey, searching for a place of rest, the feeling of homesickness that accompanies it. But this journey is not just a physical one, but a spiritual one. The Psalm is preoccupied not just in finding a place, (the temple – their religious home, v1-2) but finding God himself v2.
St Augustine once famously wrote about God,
‘You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’
Do you ever feel homesick? Or even when you are at home, do you ever feel a deep longing for a rest that you can’t find? That’s what Augustine was talking about. All of us long for a home, but homesickness points to a deeper reality: a longing for God. We were created to be in relationship with him, but as long as we remain far from him, we will never feel at home.
Verse 10 boldly claims that it is better to be a lowly doorkeeper and know God than to live in luxury without him. But the reason is given in v11: God is so good that all other riches and comfort pale in comparison. He offers fullness of life, safety, kindness; he promises that nothing good will be withheld from you. Look at his tender hospitality in v3 – even the tiny sparrow finds a home with him; no-one who trusts in him will be neglected. Wherever you are journeying today, ask Him to bring you home to Himself.
PRAYER Lord Almighty, you promise that the person who trusts in you is ‘blessed’, that you will pour your goodness on them. Show me your fullness of life, your safety, your kindness today. Show me how you can meet the deepest, homesick longings of my heart. Amen.
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 How lovely is your dwelling-place, Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 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, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose way of life is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.