The Lord My Sanctuary, Strength, Sustainer

Psalm 84

Growing up, had lesson drilled into head: “this is a sanctuary; you don’t run, jump, holler; take your hat off, speak quietly, remember where you are.” btw, didn’t matter time or day of week or if anyone else was there. Was same place so same rules applied. Wasn’t anything superstitious about it; simply recognized church sanctuary as sacred place: one set apart for specific purpose of worship, place where God and his people meet.

Number of different influences combined to nearly eliminate that way of thinking. Signage (and accompanying mindset) – Calvary Bible Church MeetsHere. Usage – concerts, workshops, athletic events. Architecture – hotel meeting space, store front, steel “warehouse” with portable stage. Idea of sanctuary no longer associated in many minds with specific place. More important, reality of sanctuary no longer part of experience for many. Insurance companies – disaster planning, emergency response teams, handling crisis inside, not community.

Taking second sense of word, are diligent to provide sanctuaries for wildlife but totally ignore mankind’s need for place of refuge. Jesus made plain to Samaritan woman (John 4:19-24) acceptable worship not tied to location in same way as Old Testament. However,… doesn’t mean absolutely anything goes. Mankind’s design hasn’t changed, neither has his need. Still conformed to design intended by God to fit a 7-day week, one day in seven that is different from the rest. And, God designed that day to suit his purpose and meet our need.

Regardless of particular form it takes, God’s people need time and place of sanctuary when they are revived, strengthened and nourished. Side note: all people have the need; God’s people seek to satisfy it in right way. Also, shortcomings in this area given as reason for people leaving Protestant churches in favor of RC / Orthodox.

A. the Lord my sanctuary v.1-4

several names / titles for God used in psalm: El, Elohim, Yahweh; begins and ends addressed to “LORD of hosts” (1)

Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi use the title “LORD of hosts” more than ninety times (fourteen times in Haggai). This title has military connotations (God as the leader of Israel’s armies, 1 Sam. 17:45), but also highlights God’s glory (Ps. 24:10) and sovereign kingship over all creation (Amos 4:13).

“​Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!”

stronger emphasis here: God’s glory, especially as seen in his dwelling place (tabernacle)

God’s dwelling place, where he is present for purpose of interacting with his people

regarded by true worshipers as a place well-loved – think of it fondly, have good memories

saint has strong desire for sense of God’s presence: kind of longing, yearning that has physical component – want it so bad you can taste it (2)

an intense craving that comes from core of being and radiates outward, finds expression in word and act

an insatiable desire to be in sanctuary, experiencing God; desire for God that overshadows any “goodies”

in its abstract meanings, “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature. In biblical literature it is the most frequently used term for man’s immaterial personality functions as well as the most inclusive term for them.” TWOT

wistful tone – “even the sparrow” – place of safety, security where young are safe from predators, parents aren’t preoccupied, the King is on duty (3)

“The birds are symbols of the life, freedom, and joy of those who dwell close to God. …The birds are like the temple singers, whose hallels to Yahweh Sabaoth—King and God—are never ending.” Word Biblical Commentary

foretaste of heaven – continually praising – and most important use of the sanctuary (4)

hâlal – boasting, praising, hallelujah; first purpose in worship, coming to sanctuary, to boast in God

if it’s a true sanctuary, world gets pushed back from thought and sight; attention drawn upward to heaven – God – saints – angels (Heb. 12:18-24)

veil is gone, forerunner has gone into Most Holy Place, we follow him by faith into God’s presence

in worship, we experience God’s presence, his minstry to his people in a heightened way – when God’s people gathered for worship, Christ declares he is present in their midst (Matt. 18:20)

when King is present, have nothing to fear from his enemies; it is Christ’s presence that makes worship place (or any place) a sanctuary, a sacred refuge

B. the Lord my strength v.5-8

second beatitude: those who find their strength in God – heart set on pursuing God where he can be found (5)

in whose heart are the highways to Zion” RSV – no hindrances or blockages to worship, fellowship with God

even Christians suffer from heart disease – infected with lack of desire for God or desire for “not God”; obstructions to flow of spiritual truth, doesn’t make it from senses to intellect to desire

both desire and determination – desire for God, determination to go where he can be found, to persevere (6a)

the way to God’s presence leads through “Valley of Baca” – “Vale of Tears” – isn’t that the truth! either way you take it

regular pilgrimage to worship (weekly or yearly as in case of Israel), extended pilgrimage through life to heaven

notice how God blesses persevering obedience, along the way; don’t have to wait until end for blessing

life-giving water (6b) – converting Vale of Tears into fountain of joy

even in times of spiritual dryness, those committed to seeking satisfaction from right source will be refreshed

pilgrims received a blessing on their way to the temple, valley of tears became place of joy, fellowship

if you expect to receive a blessing at your destination, journey gives pleasure; enjoyment grows along with anticipation as “end of the road” gets closer

continual strength (7a)

typically think of travel as tiring, longer journey equals greater fatigue; another example of how God meets his people where they are, providing strength for the journey and at the end

important to reflect: doesn’t matter how robust physical strength is if soul is weak and faint

Eph. 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

the one who desires and pursues blessing of time spent with God will be strengthened at that time and in between

in our context: if corporate worship is high point of your week, God will supply spiritual strengthing along journey of life through the week and during worship

when our priorities are right, God resupplies his children as they have need

safe journey (7b)

those who go from strength to strength will appear before God; will make it to Zion, ultimately heaven

those who have their hearts set on reaching Zion, have God’s highway to Zion established in their hearts will succeed

remember who it is that supplies continual strengthening; successful arrival result of God’s work in the saint, preserving and enabling them to persevere

answered prayer (8)

cry is to Sovereign God, God in his glory, governing affairs of his people

here’s hope for an audience – the God of Jacob can be God of anybody; the one who allowed Jacob to prevail, who blessed him will bless any who truly depend on him for strength

C. the Lord my sustainer v.9-12

another reason for confidence that prayer will be heard: see who our shield is, it’s your anointed one (9)

God is our sanctuary, strength, sustainer when Christ is our shield, when we are abiding and hiding in him

here’s counter-cultural perspective, an ordering of priorities upside down compared to world (10)

in world position and all that goes with it of primary importance; here for psalmist, #1 priority is who is being served

doesn’t matter what the position is so long as there is nearness to God

greatest thing world has to offer can’t compare with most humble place in God’s service; cf. Dives / Lazarus

second piece: blessings received in worship 1000x better than anything world offers

nothing that would interfere with fellowship with God even gets second thought, much less serious consideration

there’s a real reason, one of substance, why child of God should think that way (11)

the world promises but never produces what it promises; God, on the other hand….

sun – how we relish longer days, light / warmth / life that sun brings; especially true in spiritual terms

shield – protects and delivers from physical and spiritual harm; two are intimately connected: provides physical safety to extent it will promote spiritual growth and health

grace – shows favor to those in his debt and unable to pay; accepts, loves, sustains those in union with his Son

glory (honor) – greatest honor: royal status; it’s derived, dependent, but real because of adoption

begins in this life, when King of all kings treats us as children; will reach its fullness in next life

Rom. 8:30​And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

all good – here’s the area of greatest disagreement between us and God: what is really good

whatever is good in us comes from God; whatever is good for us will come from God

final beatitude: God blesses those who rely on him to sustain them (12)

1. to give support or relief to; 2. to supply with sustenance; nourish

perhaps you’ve seen images of reservoirs in California – God isn’t like that; his reservoir of blessing and sustenance is limitless

This is an immense fountain; may the Lord fill all the buckets of our hearts at the spring, and give us capacious souls, as he hath a liberal hand. Thomas Adams

“Here is the key to the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshiper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord’s worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul?” CHS

Guarantee if you trust in God to be your sanctuary, your strength and your sustainer, you will never be disappointed.


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