Longing for Home.

Psalm 84 describes a person longing for God's dwelling place and points us toward the home we were created for.

The psalmist describes longing for God's house using a poetic picture of birds that nest near the Temple. His longing is put into action by traveling on a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a long journey that required effort and preparation. It went through difficult and dangerous places, but the pilgrims were encouraged as they went along (verses 5-7). This psalm uses the word "blessed" four times, which means "happy." The writer and audience were most happy when they were in God's dwelling place.

The Temple of God is better than any other place because it was chosen by God to house His presence. Its value is not merely in the place but in who resides there (verse 10). The psalmist finds his life in God (using the symbol of the sun in verse 11) and his protection and provision.

We can read, analyze, and explain this psalm while still feeling dissonance in our own hearts. Honesty admits that we often do not feel the same way toward God's presence. Believers want to have that desire, but do not always find it true of themselves. We agree in our minds, but may wonder, how do we live it out?

Malachi 1:6-14 describes the Israelites in a similar attitude. God had brought them back from exile, and Temple worship had been reestablished, but they still had grown weary of it.

Several other passages can help us answer this dilemma. The resolution is found by understanding where God lives; the point is not merely going to church more often. Derek Kidner describes the experience of the writer and audience of Psalm 84 as "homesick." Contemplate the description of our true home in the following verses:

  • Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16
  • John 14:1-3
  • Revelation 21:3, 22:3-5
  • Psalm 23:6
  • Ezekiel 40-48
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8
  • Hebrews 10:32-36

These passages tell us that home is equally a place and who is in that place. The believer's true home is to come, not experienced in the present. The death of a saint highlights that reality. Home is where God is. Heaven is our destiny, where we truly belong.

Our greatest obstacle to this mindset is the comfort we so often strive for. This pursuit becomes an idol when we want to make our home in this life. We try to make this earth like our eternal home, and we get upset when things go wrong. We must realize and live in the reality that our life here and now is not forever. Temporal success or struggle can distract us from an eternal perspective. When we don't long for God or believe that He gives every good thing (Psalm 84:11), our eyes are not pointed toward our heavenly home. We have lost sight of the big picture.

Conversely, when we focus on our eternal home, it clarifies our purpose in the here and now, and gives us energy to pursue the Great Commission and making disciples.

If you ever achieve a goal and have the feeling that asks, "is that it?", don't ignore it. Earthly experiences fall short of our longings because we were created for elsewhere.

Application Points

  • Do you feel dissonance when you read Psalm 84? Do you long to be where God is? If this is not true of your heart as often as you would like, how can you cultivate that attitude?
  • How homesick are you for your eternal home? Or are you content to make your home here? To help discern this, think about what most excites or upsets you?
  • Focusing on our eternal home energizes us to pursue the reason we are here on earth – to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples. Are you finding this true in your life?