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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, August 24, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
   to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
   my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
   ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
   the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
   give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
   look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better
   than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
   he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
   from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
   happy is everyone who trusts in you. (NRSV)

What is your dream vacation destination? This question is commonly used as an icebreaker for meetings and training sessions. The most frequent responses given include Hawaii, Italy, Paris, California, or Florida.

The psalmist’s response to the question is “the house of the Lord.” In Psalm 84 the author expresses a preference to be a doorkeeper in the Lord’s house rather than “dwell in the tents of the wicked.” John Calvin offers an enlightening perspective on the psalmist: “He would rather be cast into a common and humble place, provided he were among the people of God, than be exalted to the highest rank of honor among unbelievers.”

There is something captivating about the inclination to serve in a lowly position in God’s house rather than live in the elaborate tents of the wicked. Two contrasting ends of the spectrum are mentioned here. One is serving in the lowest volunteer position in the place of worship while the other is living in the lavish surroundings of the wicked.

The rationale for such devotion is defined in the analogy of God as “sun and shield.” The blessings of God outweigh the products of the world. Like the sun, God offers light, warmth, and love. As a shield, God offers protection in a world of potential harm. If you find yourself in a precarious situation you will find God to be like the sun to warm you up and give light to your path.

The sun renews hope while the shield provides shade. Both the sun and shield provide a place of rest where you can relax and renew your strength.

Loving God, thank you for being our sun and shield. You only desire good things in our lives while simultaneously providing abundant blessings. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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