Psalm 84: The Presence

Friday, September 11, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 84 in which the psalmist expresses great love and longing to dwell in God’s protection.

My soul yearns and pines 
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.


The psalm, while it alludes to the Temple as God’s house, offers a broader and deeper understanding of that sacred dwelling place. Psalm 84 describes an abiding so universal that it welcomes even the sparrow into its embrace.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your sanctuaries, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!


Praying today with this lovely psalm, I focus on my desire to be completely embraced by God – to feel that unquestioning faith, trust, hope and love in all circumstances of my life . This kind of confidence doesn’t come from any temple, building, or church. It comes from the Presence we find WITHIN our “temples”. If that Presence is gone, the “temple”is simply a pile of bricks.


An image rose in my mind of my niece Katelyn when she was about 18 months old. My mother had just died. When my brother and family arrived at Mom’s house shortly after, little Katelyn scurried quickly to the kitchen, my mother’s usual habitat. She wanted that irreplaceable hug from Grandmom. But the kitchen chair was empty. Katelyn touched the chair and, still pre-verbal, looked up at me wondering and confused – much like I was. The kitchen had become a temple without a presence. Neither she nor I were sure where to touch the love that had once been there.

Katelyn’s glance is burned on my memory even now, over 30 years later. I have seen it in so many eyes since then, where lives have been struck with a sadness or tragedy that takes their heart away.


Psalm 84 reminds us that the healing of such bereavements happens in the Heart of God, the immutable Presence holding all our “temples” in its palm.

Blessed they who dwell in Your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed they whose strength you are!
their hearts are set faithfully upon life’s journey.


We experience all kinds of death, loss, darkness and emptiness in our lives. In those times, how do we touch God’s abiding love? How do we find Light?

Psalm 84 encourages us to be honest with God, to express our longing, to believe God wants our good, and to be sincere in our desire for God’s Presence in our lives.

For a sun and a shield is the LORD God;
grace and glory bestowing;
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk in sincerity. 


Poetry: To Be Held – Linda Hogan

To be held
by the light
was what I wanted,
to be a tree drinking the rain,
no longer parched in this hot land.
To be roots in a tunnel growing
but also to be sheltering the inborn leaves
and the green slide of mineral
down the immense distances
into infinite comfort
and the land here, only clay,
still contains and consumes
the thirsty need
the way a tree always shelters the unborn life
waiting for the healing
after the storm
which has been our life.

Music: Heinrich Schütz set Psalm 84 in the German translation by Martin Luther as part of his Op.2, Psalmen Davids sampt etlichen Moteten und Concerten.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s