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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 84

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary


Psalms 84

The Psalmist pronounces himself happy in the possession of the highest of all blessings, that of dwelling in the house of God, and that of communion with him; for inheritance follows adoption: to those who participate in this blessing, the Lord will by his salvation yet give occasion to praise him, Psalms 84:1-4. He pronounces those happy (salvation to himself because he belongs to their number) who place their trust in God, and walk blamelessly: for their misery, shall be turned into salvation, and the end of their way is praise and thanks, Psalms 84:5-7. The prayer rises on the basis of the meditation; may God be gracious to his anointed, for his favour is the highest good, whoever possesses it is sure of salvation, Psalms 84:8-12.

The whole Psalm contains 12 verses. It is divided into two strophes; one of meditation, in seven verses, and the other of prayer, in five. The seven is divided into four and three: salvation as the necessary consequence of dwelling in the house of the Lord, and salvation: as the consequence of piety and blamelessness. The five which points out the second strophe as supplementary to the first is divided into an introduction and, a conclusion, each of one verse, and a main body of three verses. The Selah stands where it is most necessary, at the end of the first part of the first strophe, and at the end of the introduction of the prayer-strophe. It is here that the parts, which ought to be kept separate, admit most easily of being read together. The name Jehovah occurs three times in the first and three times in the second strophe. Sabbaoth is added twice in each. If we add to the six repetitions of Jehovah the four repetitions of Elohim, which occurs generally in a subordinate position, so that Jehovah preponderates, we have altogether ten names of God.

The ( Psalms 84:9) ninth verse renders it evident that the speaker is the Anointed of the Lord: This fact can be reconciled with the title, which ascribes the Psalm to the sons of Korah, only by the supposition that it was sung from the soul of the Anointed: comp. the Intro. to Psalms 40 and Psalms 43, where the case is exactly the same.

The Psalm gives very slight intimation as to the situation of the Anointed. That he was in a calamitous situation is obvious from the whole tendency of the Psalm, which, is, manifestly designed to pour consolation into the soul of the sufferer, and in particular from “they shall still praise thee,” in Psalms 84:4, “going through the valley of tears,” in Psalms 84:6, and the prayer in Psalms 84:8-9, which is that of a sufferer standing in need of divine assistance. It is intimated in Psalms 84:7 that the sufferer particularly is separated from the sanctuary. Farther, the Anointed stands in inward and near relation to the Lord, Psalms 84:1-4; he is one who has his strength in the Lord, and trusts in him, Psalms 84:5 and Psalms 84:12, and who has walked blamelessly, Psalms 84:5 and Psalms 84:11, yea he stands as the teacher in Israel of these great virtues, Psalms 84:6.

These marks lead to David in his flight from Absalom; they meet together as applicable no where else. This result obtained from the consideration of the Psalm itself is confirmed by comparing it with Psalms 42 and Psalms 43, in which the traces of that time, and the reference to these events, are still more apparent. These Psalms are so closely allied to the one before us, that it is impossible to consider them apart. They both bear a considerable resemblance to it, even externally, as might be made to appear,

Psalms 42 and Psalms 43 stand at the head of the Korahite Elohim Psalms, and this Psalm at the head of the Korahite Jehovah Psalms, so that thus both are in a peculiarly close manner connected together. And they possess the following points in common:—they were composed by the sons of Korah from the soul of the Anointed; they are all characterized by an ardour of feeling, and a tender pathos, which here, as is also indicated by the title, assumes the form of a pathetic joy; in all, the Anointed is in a state of suffering, and is separated from the sanctuary. The fundamental thought also of this Psalm occurs in Psalms 42:6, Psalms 42:8, where the Psalmist obtains comfort in his misery, and the hope of salvation because he becomes absorbed in a consciousness of possessing the favour of God. As to particular expressions comp. Psalms 84:4 with Psalms 42:5, Psalms 84:7 with Psalms 43:3, Psalms 84:9 with Psalms 43:5. [Note: Even Ewald acknowledges that Psalms 42, 43, , 84, are inseparably connected.—“These Psalms are manifestly so similar, in colouring of language, in plan and structure, in overflowing fulness of rare figures, finally, in refined delicacy and tenderness of thought, and yet everything in both poems is so entirely original, while nothing is the result of imitation from the other, that it is impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that both are the product of the same poet.” It is singular that with such acknowledgments and concessions the inference so necessarily flowing from them it favour of the titles should be disregarded. How comes it that in the titles those Psalms are attributed to the same authors which on internal grounds are so intimately related, if these titles were composed upon mere conjecture?]

The sons of Korah perform here as in Psalms 43 for David in the time of Absalom, the same duty which David once performed for Saul. They sang quietness and peace from their soul to his, giving back to him a part of what they themselves had received, from him the “teacher,” Psalms 84:6. They brought to his recollection the foundations of his hope: the blessing of communion with God yet remaining to him, which, as the fountain all other blessings, must brighten his piety and his blameless walk in the estimation of all who regard God, and finally his suffering in joy.

The contents are nearly allied to those of Psalms 63, which was composed by David himself in the time of Absalom. There also we find hope in reference to the future rising on the basis of inward union with God enjoyed by the Psalmist at present.

It has been maintained as an argument against the composition of the Psalm in the time of David, that the sanctuary in Psalms 84:1-3; Psalms 84:3, Psalms 84:10, must have been a temple, a large building. But the mention of “habitations” of God, in Psalms 84:1, does not imply this; for even the tabernacle-temple was divided into several apartments, and the habitations and sanctuaries of the Lord are mentioned in other Psalms which manifestly belong to the times of David, Psalms 43:3, Psalms 68:35. The same cannot be said of “courts” in Psalms 84:2 and Psalms 84:10. The tabernacle, and therefore probably also the tent erected by David for the ark of the covenant on Mount Zion, had certainly only one court. But in poetical language we not infrequently find courts used in the sense of the space before the sanctuary, where in reality there was only one court. Thus, for example, in Psalms 65:4, which was composed by David; again in Isaiah 1:12, “who hath required this of you that ye tread my courts,” Psalms 92:13, Psalms 100:4: the one of the two courts of Solomon’s temple was the court of the Priests, and it therefore cannot be meant as included. Finally, it is only by adopting a false rendering that Psalms 84:3 can be considered as making any mention of birds’ nests in the sanctuary; the same may be said of Psalms 84:5 ss., in regard to pilgrimages,—it is without any good reason, besides, that it has been said of these that they did not exist in the time” of David. An intimation that the sanctuary at that time existed in a tent, occurs in Psalms 84:10. The reference to the tabernacle-house of God undoubtedly called forth in that passage the mention of the tents of wickedness, instead of its palaces.

The Psalm has had the misfortune to be misunderstood in various ways, particularly by the modern expositors whose perception of its meaning is upon the whole much more profound than was that of Luther. The main ground of the misunderstandings is the falsely literal rendering of those passages in which mention is made of the house of the Lord. It is from this that has arisen the idea that there exists in the Psalm “an expression of earnest desire for the temple,” in opposition to Psalms 84:2, where the Psalmist rejoices as one who already enjoys the privilege of near access to God, to Psalms 84:3, according to which the bird has already found its house and the swallow its nest in the house of God, and to Psalms 84:10 in connection with to Psalms 84:9, &c.

On the title “To the chief Musician after the manner (or according to the harp, comp. at title of Psalms 8) of Gath, by the sons of Korah, a Psalm,” Arnd remarks: The Gittith was a spiritual musical instrument on which these Psalms were played, which sounded pleasantly and joyfully. For the ancients did not play all the Psalms upon the same instrument, but they varied according to the strain of each Psalm. What should we learn from this? That our heart, mouth, and tongue, should be the true spiritual musical instruments of God, the pleasant harps and the good sounding symbols, both mournful and joyful instruments according to the dispensation of God and the times.” “To the Chief Musician,” shows that the Psalm was intended for something more than what immediately gave occasion to it, that along with its individual application we must keep in view its application for all the suffering people of God: comp. the Intro. at Psalms 42.

Verses 1-4

Ver. 1. How beloved are thy dwelling-places, O Lord, (Lord) of Hosts. Ver. 2. My soul longeth and even fainteth after the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh rejoice to the living God. Ver. 3. Even the bird has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she lays her young, thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my king and my God. Ver. 4. Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, they shall still praise thee.

The ידיד in Psalms 84:1 signifies always beloved and never lovely; comp. at Psalms 45:1; and the ( Psalms 84:2) second verse is in entire harmony with this, where the expression “how much loved they are (by me)” is expanded; and also the parallel passage, Psalms 27 : “One thing I desire of the Lord, that do I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.” The Psalmist loves the habitations of the Lord; because he is sure of finding safety and protection there: comp., among other passages, Psalms 27:5. The term Sabbaoth points to this ground as one to which marked prominence is given in what follows. The Lord of Heaven is rich in salvation on behalf of his own people; the man whom he takes into his presence is protected, and that, too, although the whole world were to rise up against, him: comp. Psalms 27:1, “Nothing can go entirely wrong with him whom the Most High has resolved to aid.”

The longing and fainting, in Psalms 84:2, do not at all indicate any desire completely unsatisfied at the time; but rather a spiritual hunger, which is immediately connected with satiety, a need which as it has arisen from enjoyment, also, calls for enjoyment. This is evident from the rejoicing, which stands, as far as the grammatical interpretation is concerned, inseparably connected with the longing and fainting, but which, in consequence of the erroneous view taken of the former, has been to no purpose, considered as equivalent to to cry aloud. רִ?נּ?ֵ?ן is of frequent occurrence in the Psalms, and always signifies to rejoice. He who can rejoice in God must be in possession of the object of his desire. In proportion as the soul has already enjoyed the grace of God, does it earnestly long after it; and in proportion as it longs after it does it rejoice in God. Arnd: “This is the effect of holy desire, the fruit of holy longing after God, for God is so gracious and condescending that he does not permit the heartfelt love and the holy desire which man bears towards him to pass unrewarded, but so gladdens the man that he refreshes him both in body and soul. There arises, therefore, out of heartfelt desire after God a heartfelt joy, or true joy of the heart.” The גם does, not indicate a climax; but, as is frequently the case (comp., for example; Psalms 137:1) is a mere particle of addition. The soul, heart, and flesh are exceedingly appropriate, when used together, as expressive of the whole than, and therefore, as indicating the intensity of the desire (comp. at Psalms 63:1), and the second clause begins with “ they rejoice,” to which the nominative is soul, heart, and flesh. The “courts of the Lord” are the courts of the outward temple, which is also designated in Psalms 84:1 the habitations: the desire, however, is, not to be present in this temple corporeally, but spiritually, which is possible even in the case of external distance the servants of the Lord dwell always spiritually with him in his temple, and are there cared for by him with fatherly love, comp. at Psalms 27:4; Psalms 36:8; Psalms 65:4, and the parallel passages referred to there. The courts are specially spoken of here, as in Psalms 65:4; Psalms 92:13, because in the “tabernacle of meeting” it formed the external place of concourse for the congregation; it is, therefore, there also the spiritual seat of its members; into it there flowed upon them out of the sanctuary the stream of the grace and love of God. The רנן with אל , to rejoice to God, who makes himself known in grace and love to the longing soul, in rejoice, in return or response; occurs only here. On אל חי comp. at Psalms 42:2.

The simple thought of Psalms 84:3 is this: the dwelling in thy house, confiding relationship to thee, secures: thy grace, with confidence and protection. The “bird” and the swallow is the Psalmist himself, the דרור need not to be very exactly defined; the connection in which it is used defines nothing except that from the parallel צפור , and the general sense of the passage, it must denote a little, helpless bird: comp. Psalms 11:1, where David calls himself a “little bird,” Psalms 56 Title (comp. Psalms 55:6), where he calls himself “the dumb dove of distant places,” 1 Samuel 26:20, where he calls himself a flea, and compares himself to a partridge on the mountains. There is an abbreviated comparison: like a little bird, which, after a long defenceless wandering, has found a house ( Matthew 8:20) in which it may dwell securely, a nest to which it may entrust with confidence its dearest possession, its young, thus have I, a poor wanderer, found safety and protection in thy house, O Lord. Jo. Arnd: “David gives thanks to the Lord for this, and says, my poor little soul, the terrified little bird has now found its right house, and its right nest, namely, thy altars; and if I had not found this beautiful house of God, I must have been for ever flying about, out of the right way. I would have been like a lonely bird on the house-top, like an owl in the desert, Psalms 102, like a solitary turtle dove; give not thy turtle dove into the hands of the enemies,” says Psalms 74. The גם does not connect, the whole passage with what goes, before (comp. Ew. § 622, Psalms 85:12); not: even the bird has found, but: the bird has even found. Feeble man, in this hard, troublous world, destitute of the help and grace of God, is compared to the “little bird,” and the, “swallow.” The house, in an extended sense, is brought into notice as a place of safety for the bird, for the little bird itself, the nest, as a place of safety for its most precious possession. On אשר for “where” comp., Ew. § 589. The את מזבחותיך is the accus. as at 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14. The plural refers to the altar of burnt-offering, and the altar of incense-offering: comp. Numbers 3:31. The altars are specially mentioned instead, of the whole house; because there the relation to God was concentrated. There the soul brings forward its spiritual offerings, which constitute the soul even of material sacrifices, and hears the much-loved responsive call of God; the assurance of his help, and his salvation, even when the body is not near the altar. “My king and my God” (joined together in this manner only in Psalms 5:2) gives, in connection with Sabbaoth, the ground why the Psalmist considers it such a happy thing for him that he has been permitted access to the altars of God, why the house of God is to him what its house and, nest are to the little bird. How should he not feel infinitely safe whom his king and his God, he who guides the stars in their courses, has taken him into his own dwelling-place. Luther took a correct view of this verse, as is obvious from his “ namely thine altars.” Modern expositors, however, have gone astray, in consequence of their having unfortunately taken up the idea that the Psalm contains the expression of the earnest longings after the temple of one separated from it. They translate: “Even the sparrows find an house, and the swallows a nest; for themselves, where they lay their young, in thine altars, Jehovah Sabbaoth, my King and my God,” and suppose the idea intended to be conveyed is: and are thus happier than I am, who am separated from thy sanctuary. But the thought obtained in this way is one, notwithstanding the defence which has been made of it by De Wette and Maurer, of a trivial character, and unworthy the holy earnestness of Israelitish poetry; a bird, certainly, was in no very enviable situation which had fixed its place of dwelling and its nest in the house of the Lord. The main thing, moreover, I am less fortunate than they is wanting, and added to the passage without any reason whatever. The “ with thine altars,” instead of “at,” is very strange, and certainly the unusual את would not have been used for the purpose of avoiding the ambiguity. The birds durst build their nest if generally in the sanctuary, yet certainly not in the neighbourhood of the altars. Finally, Psalms 84:4 th is not at all suitable, if we suppose that Psalms 84:3 contains a lamentation over absence from the sanctuary; and even Psalms 84:2 can only by a false interpretation be brought, in this case, into harmony with Psalms 84:3.

The dwellers in the house of God, in Psalms 84:4, are, as was formerly shown at Psalms 27:4, not those who regularly repair to it, but the inmates ( Jeremiah 20:6) of God’s house in a spiritual sense. As the Psalmist, according to what has been said before, belongs to their number, in praising their happiness, he praises at the same time his own: happy, therefore, also I. In the second clause, the ground of this praise is given: for they shall still (even though for the present they may be in misery) praise him; he by imparting to them his salvation, give them yet occasion to do so: comp. “he will praise me,” for “he will get occasion to do so,” Psalms 50:15, Psalms 50:23, and also Psalms 79:13. It is usually translated: always they praise thee. But with this construction the use of עוד in the parallel passage, Psalms 42:6, is not attended to. Besides, עוד never means always. Genesis 46:29 is to be translated: and he wept still upon his neck when Israel spoke. In Ruth 1:14, the עוד , “they wept still,” refers back to Psalms 84:9.

Verses 5-7

The sons of Korah now open up, in Psalms 84:5-7, to the anointed of the Lord the second fountain of consolation, they point out to him the pledge of salvation which had been imparted to him through his trust in God and the blamelessness of his walk.

Ver. 5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose hearts (are) ways. Ver. 6. Going through the valley of tears, they make it a well; the teacher is even covered with blessing. Ver. 7. They go from strength to strength, he appears before God in Zion.

Psalms 84:6-7 contain the grounds on which the declaration of blessedness made in Psalms 84:5 is founded: Blessed are they, for in passing through the valley of tears, &c. Psalms 84:5 contains two conditions of salvation. First, that a man has his strength in God, has him as his strength. Jo. Arnd: “But what does having God for our strength mean? It means that we place the trust of our heart, our confidence, help, and consolation only in him, and in no creature, be it power, skill, honour, or riches. That is a happy man who knows in his heart of no other strength, help, and comfort than of God.” The second condition of salvation is, that a man has ways, made roads, in his heart. By this is designated zealous moral effort, blamelessness and righteousness. The heart of man in its natural condition, appears like a pathless wilderness, full of cliffs and precipices; and repentance is a levelling of the roads. The following passages are parallel: Psalms 50:23, “whoso offereth praise (= has his strength in thee) and whoever prepares a way, to him will I show the salvation of God;” Proverbs 16:17, “the highway of the upright (in opposition to the pathlessness of the wicked) is far from evil &c.” and Isaiah 40:3-4, “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the heath a pathway for our God; every valley is exalted, and every hill shall be made low, and every steep place shall be made plain; and the rugged place shall become a valley:” comp. the proof given in the Christol. iii. p. 395, that by the figurative language of the preparing of the ways we are to understand the zeal of moral effort as referred to in that passage. Both of these conditions of salvation are united, as they are here, in Psalms 26 : the second has prominence given to it, for example, in Psalms 15; Psalms 24. As in the ( Psalms 84:12) 12th verse, “who trusts in thee” corresponds to “who has his strength in thee,” “who walk blamelessly,” in Psalms 84:11, corresponds to “the ways in their hearts.” Luther’s translation is not sufficiently exact: who walk after thee from the heart; those of recent date are entirely false: whose heart thinks upon the streets, the pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The pilgrimages are in no respect suitable if the connection be viewed correctly. מסלות does not mean ways generally, but made roads, it means streets, not once the streets, which is still much too vague.

The sense of Psalms 84:6 is: to those whose mind is in this state, suffering is turned into joy, misery into salvation. “Wandering” is not, “ although they wander,” but “ while they wander.” The stat. constr. stands, while, at the same time, the preposition cannot be omitted: comp. at Psalms 2:12. There is a reference to the second half of the preceding verse: those who have prepared the ways of their heart shall be prospered in regard to their outward ways. The valley, properly the depth, or the deep, is an emblem of a low and miserable condition. Into such a valley David found himself cast down from the height of his prosperity in the time of Absalom. The old translators, with wonderful agreement, give to בכא the sense of weeping; and even the Massorah remarks that the א at the end stands instead of ה . Others, on the ground that the form with the א never occurs, consider Baca as the name of a tree, which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:23-24, and the parallel passage in Chron., according to the old translators, a mulberry tree, according to Celsus in Hierobot., a tree something like the balsam shrub. If we adopt this view, we must consider that the reason why the valley of the Baca tree is mentioned is, that the tree has its name from weeping; [Note: Abul Fadli:, in Celsus i. p. 330, says of the Arabian Baca tree: when its leaf is cut, a certain tear drops from it, white, warm, sharp, yet of no virtue.] so that in reality the sense is the same as on the former view,— in the valley of the tear-shrubs. The appellation of Zalmon in Psalms 68:14 is similar to this. Then, against the idea that the Baca tree grows only in dry places, that the valley of Baca, therefore, simply denotes such a place, it may be urged with effect that valleys are not usually dry, and that the Baca tree, according to the only passage in Scripture where it is mentioned, grew in the very fruitful valley of Rephaim, Isaiah 17:6. In this case, also, instead of, “they make it a well,” we would have expected, “they make it rich in wells.” But that whole reference to the Baca trees must, in all probability, be given up. As nothing remains left of them except the name, the naming of them is flat and trifling enough. In the parallel, and, in all probability, fundamental passage, Psalms 23:4, there occurs also an appellative: even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: comp. also Psalms 126:5-6. The sweet fountain of salvation stands in marked, contrast to the bitter fountain of weeping. A valley of weeping also occurs in Burkhardt ii. p. 977. Gesell.: “after you have advanced two hours, the valley for an hour gets, the name of Wady Beka, or the valley of the weeping, and, according to tradition, it got the name because a Bedouin wept; when, as his enemy was pursuing him, his dromedary fell down, and he therefore could not follow his companion.” [Note: Burkhardt knew nothing of the Baca trees growing in this valley, and Gesenius in vain endeavours to propose them here contrary to the Arabic authorities.] We adopt, therefore, the vale of tears. [Note: Ven.: A valley represents a depressed and abject condition; a valley of tears must therefore represent such a condition in connection with much misery, and affording very little consolation, or none at all.] David experienced what it was to wander in this valley of tears, when he went up by Mount Olivet and wept, 2 Samuel 15:30. As the valley of weeping is an image of misery, the fountain is an image of salvation. (Luther gives erroneously the plural instead of the singular.) They make it, namely, inasmuch as they, by their faith and their righteousness, call down the grace of God upon them, or open the doors for the blessing. The גם stands as in Psalms 84:2. The יעטה is the fut. in Kal as at Leviticus 13:45, Jeremiah 43:12. The verb signifies always in Kal to be covered, even in Leviticus 13:45, Micah 3:7, with the accusative of the thing with which any one is covered, here ברכות , the plural, pointing to the fulness and multiplicity of the blessing. מורה is the instructor, the teacher, 2 Kings 17:28; Isaiah 30:20; Proverbs 5:13. The object of the teaching is to be taken from Psalms 84:5: who not only has his own strength in the Lord, and his ways in his own heart, but who also directs others to this, instructs them. This was David’s for example, Psalms 15, Psalms 62:3. The correct view is to be found in Luther. The translation which has hitherto been the common one is altogether erroneous; and the harvest-rain covers it with blessing. For the מורה signifies always “teaching,” or “teacher,” never “rain,” or “early rain,” which is always יורה , with the single exception of Joel 2:23, where, however, מורה is used in the sense of the early rain, only on account of the similarity in sound to the מורה , which occurs immediately before in its ordinary sense; comp. the Christol. on the passage. The עטה occurs only once in Hiph., in Kal throughout quite generally. The ברכות would not have stood without the preposition, had it not been that עטה is so constantly used with the accusative of the thing with which one is covered, that there is no danger of mistake. The omission of the suffix referring to the valley would be harsh.— The חיל in Psalms 84:7 is power, might, ability; comp. “In God we shall get ability, and he will tread down our enemies,” in Psalms 40:12. From strength to strength, the Berleb.; from one degree of strength to another. Comp. Jeremiah 9:2, Psalms 144:3. The subject in יראה is, as is apparent, the teacher. The אל in the phrase “to appear before God,” elsewhere rarely used, is selected with reference to the second clause; from strength to strength, and finally to God in Sion. Everywhere the faithful appear then praising and giving thanks, after their sufferings have been brought to a close. Comp. Psalms 84:4. That there is here a special reference to the violent separation of the Psalmist from the sanctuary, is evident on comparing Psalms 43:3. [Note: Luther, after the example of the Septuagint, as if the reading were אֵ?ל translates “the God of Gods,” and therefore wholly misunderstands the passage.]

Verses 8-12

The prayer in Psalms 84:8-12 follows the meditation.

Ver. 8. O Lord, God, God of hosts, hear my prayer, accept it, O God of Jacob. Selah. Ver. 9. Thou, our shield, behold now, O God, and look upon the face of thine anointed. Ver. 10. For a day in thy courts is better than, a thousand (elsewhere). I will rather lie at the threshold in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Ver. 11. For a sun and shield is the Lord, God, the Lord gives grace and glory, he denies no good to those who walk blamelessly. Ver. 12. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusteth in thee.—”Our shield” in Psalms 84:9 (comp. at Psalms 3:3) shows, as “God of Jacob” in Psalms 84:8 had already done, that in the one person the whole people is exposed to danger. It is emphatically placed foremost, because on it the assurance of the answer to the prayer depends. The translation, “look upon our shield,” is altogether at fault. The ( Psalms 84:11) 11th verse is sufficient proof against it.

On “behold,” comp. 2 Kings 19:16, “O Lord, thine ear and hear, open, O Lord, thine eyes and behold,” where the object to be heard and seen is more particularly described. “The whole fore-mentioned state of things “ is what must be supplied. The face of the anointed is, his humble supplicatory face. “Thine anointed” contains in it the basis of the prayer: my face, because I am thine anointed, comp. Psalms 18:50, Psalms 132:10.

The Psalmist, in Psalms 84:10, gives the reason why he turns to the Lord with beseeching prayer, why his highest wish is that he may help him: impart to me thy favour and help me, for to be in thy favour is the highest of all good. The “for” by which the verse is connected with the preceding one, is fatal to the idea, that it is not the Anointed that is praying for himself, but the Psalmist that is praying for his king, and also to the supposition, that the expressions which refer to the house of God are to be interpreted, externally. This view could not be held unless it were the case that the Psalmist, in the preceding context, had been praying for restoration to the outward sanctuary. Psalms 84:12, however, would not in this case be suitable. Than a thousand,—which are spent elsewhere, in the world, and in pursuit of its pleasures. At the expression, “I will rather, lie at the door,” like Lazarus at the door of the rich man, I will rather be content with the most despised place in the kingdom of God, the most distant relation to him and to his grace, we must suppose added, “if it cannot be otherwise, if God does not permit me to a nearer approach to him.” There is not here any expression of unpretending modesty and humility, as Calvin [Note: “A rare example of piety. For although many desire for themselves a place in the Church, yet ambition is so prevalent that few are content to remain in the common number. For almost all are so hurried on by the mad desire of rising higher, that they cannot remain at rest unless they occupy a prominent place.”] supposes; but an expression of the very high sense which the Psalmist had of the value of the grace of God in salvation, above all the pleasures and all the means of support furnished by the world. Instead of the mere “dwelling,” Luther has falsely substituted “ long dwelling.” We are to think of a dwelling whether as an inhabitant or as a client, and of wickedness, as richly fur nished-with all human means, as was the case with the enemies of David in the time of Absalom. [Note: Ven.: It is not any tents, or tents of any kind, that are understood, but rich, powerful, glorious, and splendid tents.] We have the same thought in another form in Psalms 4:7.

In the 11th verse, we have the rea-son assigned why the favour of God is the best gift; whoever has him for a friend, receives in due season a fulness of gifts, and may therefore be comforted and happy even in misery. A sun and a shield, that is, deliverance and protection. Instead of the figure of the sun, the more common one in other pas-sages is usually that of light; comp. especially Psalms 27:1; still there occur the passages, Isaiah 60:19-20, Mal. 3:20, Revelation 21:23, of a kindred nature to the one before us. Arnd.: “As the natural sun is the light, life, and joy of all natural things, so God himself is the light of all those who dwell in his house, their salvation, and the strength of their life. But the Lord is not only a sun, he is also a shield, such a protection as covers the body and the soul like a shield, so that no murderous weapon of the devil and of men can strike and mortally wound us.” By grace is meant the effects and gifts of grace, deliverance from enemies, &c. On glory, comp. at Psalms 49:16; and on “walk in a blameless,” for as a blameless man, at Psalms 15:2.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 84". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-84.html.
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