Longing for the Courts of the Lord

Psalm 84 not only models for us a right and healthy emotional response to the act of coming to worship at God’s house, but it also points us in the right direction to understand why such a passionate and strong emotional reaction is so very appropriate and good. Since God’s house is a place where God Himself gives His people favor, honor, and blessing, this “over the top” reaction of longing and fainting isn’t over the top at all: it is the only appropriate reaction to the blessing of fellowship with God.

The first four verses of this psalm celebrate the act of worship by focusing on the central image of Israel’s worship, the building where God’s people meet. They are using the building as a centering point, a representative image that stands for the whole experience of encountering God in worship. Since the Sons of Korah have experienced more joy and blessing in the courts of the Lord than anywhere else, their hearts thrill when they remember God’s dwelling place.

Some of you think that this kind of emotional response to worship is crazy. “We do this every week – sing a few songs, talk to the ceiling, and have snacks. Kinda cool, I guess, but not the greatest thing ever.” If this is how you feel about worship, you need to examine your heart: have you really met Jesus and tasted the blessings He offers? There is no way for that sort of attitude to last very long around Jesus.

Some of you think that this longing and fainting response is great…for some people. Some people are really emotional; others are more reserved. You are completely content with the reality that you’ve never felt the way the Sons of Korah felt about worship. But if you do not enjoy worship now, what makes you think that you will enjoy eternity in God’s presence? The prayer of the Sons of Korah, that they might live forever in God’s presence, is one that God will answer, and so if you have no taste for singing the psalms, hearing the Word preached, or spending a few minutes in corporate prayer now, why would you expect to enjoy an eternity full of worship? This is why you cannot simply “tolerate” the courts of the Lord. If you do not enjoy them and long for them, then your emotions are in need of repentance and discipleship to prepare you for eternity in God’s house.

Some of you are already convinced of this, however, and are more than a little worried. I know I should love worship, but if I’m honest, I really don’t. I pull into the parking lot and take a deep breath, gird up my loins, and muscle through it. What’s wrong with me? I think I love Jesus, I just don’t like coming to church! What am I doing wrong? I want to faint for the dwelling place of God, but nothing much is happening in my heart. How do I get a hold of that longing that the psalmists have?

Here’s the answer: repent, and believe the gospel. Repent of an inordinate love for lesser things, and trust God when He tells you that the things He will teach you to love are better. God is a sun, giving light and warmth; a shield, protecting and defending you; God bestows favor and honor on you. There is nothing good, nothing truly good, that God will withhold from true worshipers. When you come to the courts of the Lord, God pours out blessings on His people. This is why you should long for the courts of the Lord: God gives Himself to you there like nowhere else. If God is your chief delight, then your greatest longing will be to meet Him where He has promised to be. And if the highway to Zion is in your heart, then you will find your heart’s desire.

Posted on Thursday, February 06, 2014 by CJ Bowen