Oh to Be in the Courts of the Lord!

Posted on February 10, 2021


By David Ettinger

A Wonderful Psalm
This title comes from the wonderful Psalm 84, which begins: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

The courts of Solomon’s temples depicted

This burning sentiment should be the desire of every believer, one we should seek daily! Let’s take a closer look at this marvelous Psalm.

The Background
Psalm 84 concerns Israel’s sacrificial system at the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple housed several “courts” – an outer and inner – and men would have to enter both before making their way into the Temple.

In those days, God’s presence inhabited the Temple in the form His Shekinah, Hebrew for “God’s manifest glory” or “God’s presence.” If God’s presence was in the Temple, then it was a “lovely dwelling place” indeed; so much so that those who loved God yearned to be even in His courts – the entry way to His presence!

A drawing of Solomon’s Temple

For Israelites who loved God, there was no better place on earth to be than in His presence, as expressed in verse 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.” In other words, given a choice between living a lifetime in a mansion or serving in the courts of God’s presence for just one day, the lover of God would choose the latter – hands down!

Verse 5 speaks of the deliberate and calculated effort involved in dwelling in God’s presence in the Jerusalem Temple: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” The “pilgrimage” referred to here are the three “pilgrimage” festivals (Unleavened Bread, Weeks [Pentecost], and Tabernacles) of which every man in Israel was commanded to “appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

For those living in distant towns and villages, these trio of Jerusalem treks were a challenge, but for lovers of God, the journey was one of elation, anticipation, and joy.

Today’s Believers
Today, of course, lovers of God are not required to worship in a Temple – that is, a Temple of brick and stone. Rather, we have the living, breathing Temple – or better, Tabernacle. We read in John 1:1, 14: “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” That word “dwelling” is the Greek skeeno, which means “tabernacle.”

In ancient Israel, God’s glory took up residence first in the Tabernacle and then the Temple. In this Church Age, that glory is now the Lord Jesus. With this in mind, let’s look again at Psalm 84:1-2: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

There are no longer literal Temple courts for believers to pilgrimage to as God “is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27). In fact, His Holy Spirit dwells within us and anytime we seek Him in prayer or through the reading of His Word, we enter into His glorious presence, communing with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

As this world grows more evil by the day, dwelling in God’s presence is the greatest joy we can experience, and the best thing is, doing so is at our fingertips! May God give us the desire to yearn, faint, and cry out for the living God and to dwell in His presence always.

Oh to be in the courts of the Lord!