Like you, I’ve read through the Psalms many times, but Psalm 84 is exceptional for several reasons. First, it’s passionate. It digs deep and expresses sincere longing for God: “My soul years,” “I faint with longing,” “My whole body and soul cry out.” God is loved and longed for passionately. A second thing that makes this Psalm exceptional is its comparisons. “Even sparrows find a home, and swallows build their nests” near God’s altar. Picture it; the Temple made with the finest timber covered in gold, its altar and other instruments of worship equally priceless. Overwhelming human artistry and craftsmanship. But what’s the author think of when he imagines the scene? He notices how blessed birds that nest nearby must be to make their home that close to God’s house. You expect someone who longs for the Temple to mention its gold overlay and other beautiful features. But this poet thinks of nearby bird nests (v. 3). And when in v. 4 he mentions the joy that belongs to those who live in your house “always singing your praises,” I imagine he’s still talking about the birds, and he envies their uninterrupted access to God’s courts. Beautiful.
The third thing that makes this Psalm exceptional is its perspective on suffering. We all suffer. Some unspeakably so. We “walk through the Valley of Weeping.” But what happens when those whose deepest longings are at rest in God walk through weeping? They turn those moments into refreshing springs. The tears which our sufferings extract from us become “rain that clothes the Valley [of Weeping] with blessings” creating “pools.” They becomes resources of refreshment for others. What a perspective on life.
Where are true joys to be found? What desires motivate your deepest heart? What do you pant for? Do your body and soul cry out for anything? If the answer is God, you cannot be disappointed.
A little bird I am
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing
To him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because my God it pleases thee.
Naught have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And he whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song:
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But still he bends to hear me sing.