Happy, Blessed, Highly Favored are those whose Strength is in the Lord: The Secret of Usefulness. Psalm 84

At the end of the celebration of Passover, in Jewish homes scattered throughout the world, the parting toast is, ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’

The sentiment echoes a common consciousness, a deep restlessness if you will, which is forever drawing God’s people back from “the near uselessness of their place of exile” towards “the usefulness of their roots in the land of their forefathers.

The Psalmist was one of those who had been familiar with the days of worship in the tabernacle in the holy land.

Immediately prior to the building of the Temple by Solomon, the tabernacle had been situated in the City of David, just below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

It has been suggested that Psalm 84 was written by King David when he left Jerusalem during the rebellion led by his son Absalom.

David belonged seated on the Throne of Israel. That is where God placed him. This is [place where King David was the most useful to God and His Kingdom.

But David’s fatherly judgement became severely impaired. Absalom took great advantage of that and by force of Arms, compelled David to leave his throne.

A King not seated on his throne – in “exile,” in “hiding’ was of no use to God.

David could not wield his Kingly power – becoming essentially useless to his people, to his nation and too his God – there needed to be a significant change.

The progression:

Useful to Self – Useless to God – then in Christ, 100% usefulness to God.

Psalm 84Complete Jewish Bible

84 (0) For the leader. On the gittit. A psalm of the sons of Korach:

(1) How deeply loved are your dwelling-places,
(2) My soul yearns, yes, faints with longing
for the courtyards of Adonai;
my heart and body cry for joy
to the living God.

(3) As the sparrow finds herself a home
and the swallow her nest, where she lays her young,
[so my resting-place is] by your altars,
Adonai-Tzva’ot, my king and my God.

(4) How happy are those who live in your house;
they never cease to praise you! (Selah)
(5) How happy the man whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are [pilgrim] highways.

(6) Passing through the [dry] Baka Valley,
they make it a place of springs,
and the early rain clothes it with blessings.
(7) They go from strength to strength
and appear before God in Tziyon.

(8) Adonai, God of armies, hear my prayer;
listen, God of Ya‘akov. (Selah)
10 (9) God, see our shield [the king];
look at the face of your anointed.
11 (10) Better a day in your courtyards
than a thousand [days elsewhere].
Better just standing at the door of my God’s house
than living in the tents of the wicked.

12 (11) For Adonai, God, is a sun and a shield;
Adonai bestows favor and honor;
he will not withhold anything good
from those whose lives are pure.

13 (12) Adonai-Tzva’ot,
how happy is anyone who trusts in you!

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

“How lovely is your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts,” he intoned (Psalm 84:1).

Not that God dwells in tents or buildings or any other human habitations: but nevertheless, our soul is only ever satisfied (as Augustine of Hippo is often quoted as saying) when it finds its rest in the LORD (Psalm 84:2).

In fact, our ultimate rest is only found in Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled!) among us (John 1:14).

The Psalmist compares his soul to the sparrow, and to the swallow, little birds that are forever flitting around seeking a home (Psalm 84:3).

Not that either of these could ever safely nest on the altar of sacrifice (!) – but his soul has found its rest in the altars (plural) of the LORD of hosts.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), and his rest and ours is found first in the altar of burnt offering, where the sacrifice is presented (representing to us the Cross of Calvary) and next in the altar of incense, where the risen Lord Jesus lifts our prayers, mingled with His, up to the LORD.

The Psalmist calls the LORD of hosts, “my King and my God” (Psalm 84:3).

The Christian faith is deeply personal, a relationship rather than a religion.

Blessed are those who abide in Christ, and He in them (John 15:4; John 15:7):

THEY “shall ever be praising Him” (Psalm 84:4), and THEY ‘shall have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming’ (1 John 2:28). “Selah.”

Think on this.

Pray over and upon this,

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways” (Psalm 84:5).

So reads the Hebrew, without adding any extra words into the translation.

The word for “ways” here speaks of a prepared way, as for when a ruling monarch is approaching on their royal tour (cf. Isaiah 40:3-4; Matthew 3:1-3).

So, ponder these questions for just a few moments, what kind of person is able to genuinely say, ‘my strength is in the LORD’ (cf. Psalm 84:5) or ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13)?

It is a person whose heart has been prepared by the Holy Spirit, that they may ‘repent’ (meaning ‘change their mind about God’)!

The light of God has shined into their hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6), and they are made new people in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Not only are we made new people, but now we are enabled to “walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11) upon the path of righteousness.

We have a new purpose, a new direction, a new usefulness in our lives. ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ says the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30:21).

When we are walking in God’s way, it is the LORD who leads us (Genesis 24:27).

When we face trials in “the valley of tears” (Psalm 84:6), we can each be 100% assured that the LORD knows our way, and will not only bring us through, but will bring us out better (Psalm 23:4Job 23:10).

In all these things we are made ‘more than conquerors through Him that loved us’ (Romans 8:37-39).

The pilgrimage of this life may well be for us a vale of tears, but nevertheless we go on from our strength to His strength, our uselessness to His usefulness and will at last appear before God (Psalm 84:7; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18).

‘In this world you shall have tribulation,’ said Jesus, ‘but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

In our sin, we are essentially useless to God.

Lives lived in a “never-ending” state of being called: complete uselessness

The promise of Hope: “But be of Good Cheer; I have overcome the World”

Translation: Jesus overcame our sin and has made us 100% useful to God!

God lives – We live and our sin dies – crucified with Christ! (Galatians 2:20)

In our sin we were Useful only to ourselves, Useless to God

By profession of faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 10:9-13) – Usefulness to God.

Here the secret of usefulness is set forth by God before us in Psalm 84:5-6 CJB

5 (4) How happy are those who live in your house;
they never cease to praise you! (Selah)
6 (5) How happy the man whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are [pilgrim] highways.

Many of us have either been “useful” or “useless” Christians for a long time.

When you get in difficulties or troubles or pressures, where is your strength?

Have you found that your strength is not within yourself but in God alone, that He is the ONLY One who genuinely makes a difference?

One Saturday night I came home after a rather long day away from my church responsibilities, and I was very tired and looking forward to some useful rest.

My wife told me some of the things that had been happening, some of the pressures that had come that day from the church and from the family.

They were the kind of things I would normally want to lay before the Lord and pray about.

Except, on this particular Saturday, I didn’t feel like praying. I was tired, and I only wanted to go straight to bed. I just thought to myself, What’s the use of praying now, anyway? I’m so tired that my prayers wouldn’t have any power.

Then it struck me: What a thing to say! What difference does it make how I feel?

My reliance isn’t upon my prayers but upon God’s power.

It always bothers me to hear Christians talk about the power of prayer. 

There isn’t any power in our prayer or our praying.

There is only power in the God who answers prayer.

I was swiftly rebuked in my own spirit by the remembrance that it makes no difference how tired or exhausted I happen to be.

So, consequently in that exact moment I prayed–very briefly, because the power of prayer doesn’t lie in the length of it, either.

Charles Spurgeon used to speak of those who had the idea that the power of the ministry lay in the lungs of the preacher.

But it doesn’t lie there, either.

Power lies in the power of God who is behind prayer. 

Blessed are those whose strength is in you.” meaning our strength is in God alone and not ourselves as we look at ourselves looking back at us in a mirror.

Some time ago I was trying to sell my car.

Intending to put an ad in the paper, I read through several car ads to learn how to phrase it.

I noticed a phrase that appeared again and again throughout the ads.

It said, “Power all around.” 

At first, I didn’t know what it meant. Then I realized it meant power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, power windows, power doors, power seats, power mirrors and, in the case of a convertible, a power top.

Literally Power all around!

All this power is designed to take the terrible strain out of driving so that all you need to do is sit there and push a few little buttons and things will happen.

What a tremendous description of the “useful” Christian life!

Power all around!

The Power of God!

The Power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ raising us unto Eternal Life!

The Power of the Holy Spirit – Pentecost!

Not one ounce of any of Father, Son and Holy Spirit power is ever useless!

We just have to a useful way to plug our “useless” selves into it and stay there!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God of power and might—we give thanks for a song in our hearts.
Our souls long for You;
Our heart and our flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Happy are those who
live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

Behold our shield, O God of our Salvation;
Guide us in times of trouble, through night of sorrow,
and days when deceit lives in our heart more than love,
and hate for the stranger, more than love.
Speak gently to your anointed ones, that we may hear.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

Help us see the stranger, who comes because Your song
is in his heart and on her tongue, ringing through—
help us to hear, to see, to embrace You—
in him, in her, in you, even, in me—
with outstretched arms and mighty hands.

Hear our prayer; give ear, O God!

God of my Strength—we give thanks for a song in our hearts!  Amen.


Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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