Daily Devotion for May 18, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Brahm’s beautiful setting of Psalm 84.
Sunday Morning Invocation
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill my spirit, and the spirit of all the people of your universal church, with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned, and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
[You have broken the chains of death.]
Prayer for the Power of the Holy Spirit
O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Prayer of Confession
Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself; and I sorrow for these wrongful acts and omissions from the bottom of my heart. I humbly and fully repent all of my misdeeds, and pray that for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, you will have mercy on me and forgive me, not by my merits, but by that grace that He has granted those who confess his name. And I pray that you will be in my heart and walk with me, that I might sin no more.
Doxology (Traditional Anglican)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 84 (NKJV)
How Amiable is Thy Dwelling
How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Notes on the Scripture
Psalm 84, beautiful in the Hebrew, translates a bit awkwardly into English; but the beauty of the message can be seen. The Hebrew word “lovely”, unlike the English, retains the sense of its root word, “love”. (This is sometimes better translated as “amiable”.) We go to God's house to worship, not because it is pretty, but because it is filled with God's love for us and our love for Him, since we fill it with our love for God when we worship Him.
The next verses deal with longing: spiritual hunger. There is something in us, an undefinable sense of aloneness or isolation, that can only be satisfied by worship. We want to go home and, praised be God, He has supplied us with a home for our spirit. His love is so great that even a bird will have a nest, where she can lay her young. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31, KJV)
The third paragraph describes a long and arduous journey made on foot, in a hard and dusty land, filled with perils and discomfort. But God has provided for us. Even the Valley of Baca, a barren wilderness, would receive rain for several months during the year; and the trials and tribulations of our long walk through life, though it be filled with tears and travails, will be lightened by God. We will find some consolation during our journey: in prayer, in the knowledge of God's love, and above all, but knowing that God will fulfill His promise, and bring us into his house forever at the end. For this is a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount, the earthly house of God.
And as for dangers, we have a shield. This means twice as much for us, who know Christ, for we have the full armor of God: “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
This thought is amplified in the last long paragraph. A court is outside, in the elements and without much comfort; but the psalmist tells us that a day spent standing outside in the courtyard, working as a servant, is better than “a thousand” living apart from God's love.
The “tents of the wicked” allude to the lifestyle of the early Hebrew landowner, the well-to-do, who would live on their lands in great tents, enjoying the abundance of the good earth; but if the cost of a comfortable life is alienation from God, being unable to find the reciprocal love that he finds from worshipping God in His house, then the psalmist would rather stand outside on the stone pavement, as long as he was at God's house. For there, God will protect him from the dangers of nature (represented by the sun) and the dangers of violence (represented by the shield).