1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
People like to use the phrase, “at the end of the day.” For example, a nurse might say something like, “Well, yes, the work I do is difficult but at the end of the day it’s a good feeling to know that I’ve been able to help someone.” When one uses this phrase he or she is saying that in spite of any apparent drawbacks to their situation or any apparent positives of someone else’s situation, they’re still thankful to be who they are and where they are. It brings to mind the story of the cross-bearing man who walked into the cross store. He laid down his cross and said to the proprietor, “I want a lighter cross please; one that’s easier to carry.” The proprietor invited him to look around the store. The shopper went from one cross to another, examining each carefully. He tried to lift one but was barely able to budge it. Just glancing at another he knew that he could never handle it. One by one he eliminated those that he figured would be too burdensome. Finally he came to one that looked manageable. He picked it up and marveled at how light it was. “I’ll take this one,” the man said. “That one, sir,” answered the proprietor. “Is the one you carried in here.” So often we think our lot in life is worse than anyone else’s, only to discover that it’s not so unbearable after all.
At the end of the day, this Psalmist was a child of God. Whatever else the world had to offer, whatever challenges life presented, he declared that he would rather be the lowliest servant waiting on others at the door of God’s house than to have a fine existence away from the Lord and in service to Satan.
The entire Psalm paints a beautiful picture of how wonderful it is to be a child of God. The word “amiable” in the opening verse means lovely or beloved. There is great joy in serving God (verse 3). Blessings and happiness follow those who abide in the Lord (verses 4-5). The reason for this happiness is because of God who alone is the sun and shield, the source of grace and glory, the giver of bountiful blessings (verse 11).
What troubles are we facing in our lives? Are we grieving the loss of a loved one? Are we enduring physical illness in our lives or in the life of someone we love? Are we wrestling with financial insecurity and/or job loss? Do family troubles burden us? Is it possible that those who don’t obey God are free from these troubles? Would we be better off to give up on God and just fall in with the world so that our problems will go away? The answer is a resounding “NO.” Those who live in disobedience to God have troubles too. They get sick, lose loved ones, have personal struggles, etc. just like faithful Christians do. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY it’s the Christian who has the Lord as his or her sun and shield, it’s the Christian who has an eternal shoulder on which to lean and a loving ear ready to hear (I Peter 5:7; Revelation 5:8) and it’s the Christian who has hope of eternal rest when this life is over (Romans 8:24-25).
“A day in thy courts is better than a thousand.” Just one day following God is better than a thousand following Satan. This single day, though it be filled with the world’s snares is worth more than a thousand days of temporal pleasure lived in service to the king of the damned. If one day in God’s service is worth this much, imagine how much greater is the value of a lifetime of faithfulness to Him.
Satan delights in seeing trouble come upon the human race. His ultimate desire is to have as many as he can with him in eternal hell (I Peter 5:8). To him, troubles serve as a way to retrieve those who left him to obey God and a way to hang on to those who are currently serving him.
Psalm 84 shows us that Satan really has nothing worthwhile to offer us. When we face difficulties and turn our backs on God, we turn to one who is inferior to God in every way and, at best, offers us only temporary relief, if it can even be called relief. The “relief” that an ungodly life offers to our difficulties is found in drugs, indecent living, anger and bitterness. On the other hand, when our hearts and flesh cry out for the living God (verse 2), we find blessings, grace and peace, as well as the strength we need to endure (verses 4-5).
It may seem sometimes that we are fighting a losing battle, that the hurt that befalls us is too great to bear and that it’s just not worth the daily effort to follow God faithfully. This Psalm proves otherwise. People of the world may boast of their lives, but at the end of the day, it is the faithful child of God who has the comfort and strength that he or she needs to handle life’s issues. Following God faithfully, even in the midst of struggles, is never a mistake, but is always rewarding.
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