people in thoughtful conversation

Reflecting on Psalm 84

Where is the Holy One’s dwelling? What place comes to our mind when we think of the presence of God, and would we say, along with the psalmist, that it is “lovely”? The question of where we can expect to encounter God might be the main question we ask ourselves as we are studying Psalm 84 for Sunday, October 24. [Some notes on the text are here.] But here are a couple more questions we might want to ask ourselves, or discuss in class:

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The psalmist repeatedly addresses God as “LORD of hosts,” invoking God’s leadership of the heavenly armies. What qualities of God’s does this name bring to mind, and how does that element of God’s identity work in this particular psalm? Why do we think the psalmist identifies God this way?

Is this how we ourselves identify or think of God? If we made a habit of addressing God in this way, and thinking of this element of God’s identity, what would change in our own understanding of God? How would we feel about that? Why?

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The psalm uses several vivid images to express its vision of God and God’s presence. We could think about how these images affect us as we read or hear the psalm. For instance: What comes to mind when we read verse 3, “even the sparrow …”? How do we feel when we hear those words?

What about when we read verse 5, “in their hearts are the highways …”? What do we think that means? How does that image make us feel?

What about when we read verse 10, “I would rather be a doorkeeper …” What does that tell us about the presence of God?

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Overall, we might want to focus on the psalmist’s intense desire to be in the presence of God, and meditate on whether we share that desire – and why.

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Men in conversation

Image: “The Conversation,” Arnold Lakhovsky, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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