Psalm 84


In this psalm we find the psalmist making a journey to the tabernacle of God for the feast of tabernacles. He is yearning for fellowship to God.


‘For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this was written for the director of music. Some commentators believe that ‘director or music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

It was to be sung ‘according to gittith’, which is a musical instrument. Some commentaries suggest that this instrument would have been used by the people of Gath or sung to the tune of Gath. Others suggest it was used at the festivities of the vintage, Psalm 81 / Psalm 84.

The sons of Korah were Levites, from the family of Kohath, who by the time of David, served in the musical aspect of the temple worship, 1 Chronicles 9:19 / 1 Chronicles 26:1 / 1 Chronicles 26:19 / 2 Chronicles 20:19. It was David who originally organised the temple singers, 1 Chronicles 15:17 / 1 Chronicles 16:41-42 / 1 Chronicles 25:4-5.

Korah is probably most famous for his lead in the rebellion against Moses during the wilderness days of the Exodus, Numbers 16 / Jude 11. God judged Korah and his leaders and they all died, but the sons of Korah remained, Numbers 26:9-11. It’s possible they were so grateful for this mercy that they became prominent in Israel for praising God.

‘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. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.’ Psalm 84:1-4

The psalmist begins by telling us how lovely the LORD Almighty’s, Isaiah 1:9 / Psalm 24:10, dwelling place is, that is, His tabernacle, Matthew 21:12.

Their soul yearns and even faints for the courts of the LORD, they obviously wanted to be in the place where they would feel close to God, Psalm 17:12 / Psalm 42:1-2 / Jeremiah 16:4 / Lamentations 2:11 / Job 19:27.

Their heart and flesh cry out, Leviticus 9:24 / Job 38:7 / Isaiah 12:6, / Lamentations 2:19, for fellowship with the Living God, Psalm 63:1 / Acts 7:48 / Acts 7:54.

The psalmist remembered the sparrows and the swallows who had made their nests in God’s house. The birds had nested near God’s altar and therefore they were blessed to be close to the LORD Almighty, the psalmist’s King and God, Proverbs 26:2.

We get the picture that even the birds acknowledged they were blessed and sung praises to God, and the psalmist recognises if they were there, they would continually sing praises to God.

You may notice at the end of verse four, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine the psalmist pausing for a breath as they contemplate being in close fellowship with God in His tabernacle, singing praises to Him.

‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.’ Psalm 84:5-8

The psalmist recognises the blessings come from not relying on their own strength but God’s strength. Their heart is focused on the pilgrimage to the tabernacle, Isaiah 40:31. Those who have God in their hearts know the way to Zion and it’s clear that this isn’t the first time the psalmist has made this journey.

On their way to the tabernacle, they pass through the ‘Valley of Baka’. No one knows where this is or what it refers too, but some commentators suggest it was a difficult place to pass through, it was a place of weeping or a very dry place. However, the place was transformed into where they was much water, enough to create springs and pools.

The Israelites made this journey every year to present themselves before the Lord. They knew the route to take and where to stay along the way. Though they had to go through a very dry land to arrive at the tabernacle, the lands became a place of fountains.

We can imagine them drawing closer to the tabernacle in Zion, God’s dwelling place and the excitement they must have felt, the more excited they got the stronger they become.

The psalmist asks the LORD God Almighty, the God of Jacob, Genesis 32:24-30, to hear their prayer and listen to them, Psalm 5:1, their obviously asking God for more strength so that they can complete the journey.

You may notice at the end of verse eight, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine the psalmist pausing for a breath as they contemplate getting closer and closer to having fellowship with God in His dwelling place.

‘Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one. 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. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.’ Psalm 84:9-12

The psalmist now asks God to look on ‘our’ shield, they don’t call God their shield, but the shield was Israel’s main defence in battle. In other words, they were asking God to give them the ability to defend themselves, Psalm 5:12 / Psalm 18:2 / Psalm 33:20.

They also ask God to look with favour on His ‘anointed one’, this is probably a reference to the psalmist himself, as one of the pilgrims who made their way to the house of God. Some commentators suggest it could refer to David or Solomon and possibly the Messiah.

Notice the excitement in the psalmist’s words, one day in God’s courts is better than a thousand days anywhere else. As far as the psalmist is concerned, he gets more delight and value in the presence of God in one day than he gets from anywhere else, Philippians 3:8.

They would rather be a doorkeeper in God’s house, than live with those who are wicked. In other words, they would rather live in the most humblest place in the house of God, than live in luxury with the wicked.

The wicked may live in luxury, but the real blessings come from God who is a sun, that is, the source of all blessings, Isaiah 60:19 / Revelation 21:23 / Revelation 22:5. God is also a shield, that is, the source of all protection, Psalm 84:9.

The wicked may live in luxury, but it’s God who blesses His people with favour and honour, Romans 5:1-2 / Romans 8:29-30. God doesn’t hold back any blessings from those who walk blamelessly, simply because it is those people who totally trust in Him, Romans 8:28 / 1 Timothy 4:8 / Philemon 4:19.


The psalmist was clearly excited about going to the tabernacle to have close fellowship with God, there’s nowhere else they would rather be than in the presence of God among like-minded people.

It appears that many Christians lose their excitement about coming to worship God over a period of time. Over a period of time, the joy and enthusiasm about coming together with like-minded people, simply to praise God appears to leave some Christians.

When we first became Christians, we were on ‘fire’ for God, but after time that fire just doesn’t burn as bright as it used to. This usually happen because we often neglect to fuel the fire, we neglect our love relationship with God, Jeremiah 2:2 / Revelation 2:4.

What are the signs to look for, to see if our love for Him has diminished and been neglected?

1. One sign is that prayer is no longer a vital part of your life. It’s just something you do occasionally.

2. Another sign is that you’ve grown content with your biblical understanding and you don’t hunger for more. You’ve acquired about all the knowledge of the Bible you need.

3. Another sure sign is that the gathering of God’s people is not eagerly anticipated. You can hear someone announce, ‘we’re having a fellowship day at someone’s house to be followed with a Bible study’ and you sit there and you know in your heart that you have absolutely no intentions of going.

4. Another sign is you can easily mouth hymns and scriptures, but nothing happens in your heart.

5. Another sign is that you are slow to respond when you hear of an opportunity to minister and serve in the church.

6. Another sign is that you hardly ever think about or sense God’s presence in your life.

7. Another sign is that strong desire to just praise Him for His grace hardly ever fires up in your heart.

If you’re suffering from any of these systems, today, would be a good day to return to God and fall back in love with Him again, Isaiah 55:6-7 / Jeremiah 29:12-13 / Malachi 3:7.

Go To Psalm 85


"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Hebrews 11:1