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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 84

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-12

Though the writer of this psalm is not named in the title, yet it is not doubted but David was the author.

Psalms 84:1 . How amiable are thy tabernacles. The word is plural, for the tabernacle had three partitions, the outward, and the inner court, and the most holy place. There was the promised presence of the Lord of hosts; he dwelt in his holy habitation. There was the atoning altar, which took away sin. Leviticus 16:14. There the law was read, and with proper illustrations. There prayer was made in general supplications, as in 1 Kings 8:0.; and prayer in all particular requests. There psalms were sung, adapted to give utterance to the heart, and to extol the glory of God; and with music to raise the soul above its sorrows. There the Hebrews met at the festivals, and saw the face of one another in the courts of the Lord. Yea, strangers of every cast and colour presented themselves with offerings to the Lord of hosts. Above all, after the prayers were over, the holy prophets preached; men immediately inspired of God, men the most eloquent that ever spake. Men to whom the curtains of futurity stood disclosed; who spake as in the immediate presence of God, and before whom the people were as trembling dust. Oh how they illustrated the law, how they reproved vice, how they argued with sinners of every character, how they denounced judgments on the incorrigible, and closed their fervent addresses with bright and cheering views of the Messiah, and of his kingdom.

Psalms 84:3 . The swallow. דרור deror, a species of dove. The LXX and Vulgate, “the turtle dove.”

Psalms 84:5 . In whose heart are the ways of them. Our translators, by supplying the words of them, which are not in the Hebrew, have confounded the sense. In whose heart are the ways which lead to Zion who delight to go up to me feasts, and worship in the tabernacle of the Lord of hosts.

Psalms 84:6 . The valley of Baca; or as many read, בכה Bacah, that is, weeping. But as the name is quite irrelevant to the sense, we ought to follow the LXX, who read, the spring of the sea, or the saline spring, a salt wick, which the people could not drink. Therefore they obviated the difficulty, as far as they could, by digging pools for the rain to fill. This was a shorter route to Jerusalem.


This evangelical psalm, David composed in one of his expeditions, and probably on a sabbath day. Transporting himself in spirit to the house and altar of God, his heart recalled the sacred scenes in full view; and as though they were just before him, he exclaims, How amiable are thy tabernacles, oh Lord of hosts. I seem to see the altars smoke, and the nation bow, and then to hear them with harp and voice celebrate thy praise. I seem to see thy blessings fall on the crowd, and thy glory to cover the assembly: my soul longeth, yea fainteth for the courts of the Lord.

David envied the birds which had wings, and which built their nests near the altar of the Lord: divine faith sometimes receives great animation from the consideration of small objects.

David more especially envied the happy companies going up to keep the feasts; though they passed through the dry and rugged valley of Baca, for in hot weather they would cheerfully carry water, or after the rainy season they would find pools. He admired their zeal, for they went from strength to strength, they overtook fresh companies, or travelled from stage to stage; so the christian who loves the house of God must make nothing of difficulties. While in health, he should seldom suffer either bad roads or stormy weather to keep him from the Lord’s house.

David, contrasting the glories of public worship with the vices of a camp, says that a day in the Lord s house was better than a thousand; and that he would rather be a doorkeeper there than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Meanwhile he prayed fervently to the Lord, his shield, that he would look on the face of his anointed. Oh how can christians read this, and lounge in bed on the Lord’s day till late in the morning. How can they read this, and be indifferent whether they be present or absent at the hours of devotion. Yet when a good man is at a distance, the Lord is a sun to chase away his cold and darkness, to warm and revive his affections with heavenly love, and to make him fruitful as the summer. He kept David in a camp, Obadiah in Ahab’s court, and Daniel in the palace of Shushan. The Lord will surely give grace in time, and glory in eternity; and as to temporal mercies, we shall have just such a share as will do us good. Oh Lord, make our piety warm and fervent like that of David’s, that we may be thine in public life, as well as when like Mary seated at thy feet.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 84". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-84.html. 1835.
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