Have you recently or in the past ever carefully considered the blessings and joy of God’s presence, or for that matter, what it really means to be in His presence?
Journey with me through Psalms 84 written by the sons of Korah. The first two verses express a deep yearning for God’s presence and a celebration of being in the temple. “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.” (NIV)
According to the Andrews Study Bible, the pilgrimage to the sanctuary in Jerusalem to appear before the Lord is in the background, similar to Psalms 27, 42, and 43. God has a rich variety of titles in this psalm. He is the Lord of hosts, the Lord, the Living God, King, God, God of Jacob, Sun and Shield (p. 738).
This experience of “the joy of being in the temple, in the presence of the Living God (the expression ‘the Living God’ is used only twice in the Psalter: here and in 42:2; see also Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26)” is further expressed in verses 10-12. “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” (verse 10, NIV).
In my thinking, verse 10 sets out a most profound truth about the privilege and experience of God’s presence. This verse challenges us to examine our feelings and experiences when entering into God’s presence. Do we realize the magnitude of such privilege and such honor to be permitted to come into God’s presence? Psalm 84:10 further reflects the attitude and gratitude of the psalmist to serve as a doorkeeper in the house of God. Do we have similar feelings and attitudes as the psalmist when entering the presence of God?
Hopefully, that should be the mindset we always bring to worship. Then it should also be evident in our outward behavior, our practices, our dress, and our conversations that we are constantly cultivating a deep abiding respect, love, and joy for the privilege of being able to come into the presence of the Living God through the grace of Jesus, our Lord and Savior!
Carlyle C. Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and director of the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries departments.