1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.
Do know that feeling? When you’ve done something deserving of punishment or someone’s anger – you deserve what is coming, and you know it. David seems to know that he has done something worthy of a rebuke.
The opening words of this lament is a frank acknowledgement that he is appealing to God asking for grace. David knows, that God never disciplines those He loves in unhinged anger, after all, then God wouldn’t be righteous or loving.
Rather, God disciplines His people because He loves us (Hebrews 12:5-11) and because of that unchangeable truth if and when God chooses to discipline us it is for our good, for our training.
The motive is not anger or frustration, and the aim is not punishment but loving training. And so, like David, when next we feel God’s discipline we don’t need to worry as His beloved children whether He is angry with us, we know the motivation for God’s actions towards us – and it is always His love.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
So David’s appeal is for grace. He knows that he doesn’t deserve anything; he is not standing on his rights but simply asking for grace. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, which in this case sounds like mercy which is not getting what you do deserve!
David’s plea to God is not from a place of strength but acknowledging his weakness. He is languishing, his strength is failing him, and he has no hope of resuscitation.
Do you know that feeling? When the trouble you are in is so great that your bones feel uneasy, troubled. And so David, in addition to grace, appeals to God to heal him, to make him whole again. Only Creator God can also be re-Creator God; this hopeful desperate prayer is entirely reasonable when Almighty God is the One you’re praying to! David asks for God’s healing with confidence that radiates his belief in who God is.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord -how long?
The big question at this point in David’s lament is; “God you see my anguish of soul, but God You don’t seem to have done anything, haven’t responded, haven’t spoken yet – LORD how much longer will You be?”
How often isn’t our Father’s perfect & loving timetable not the same as the one we had in mind! What’s needed in moments like this is trust – when we can’t see & don’t understand. Are you in a moment like this? Does your soul echo the question of vs3? Right now is the time to trust.
4 Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
It’s like David is speaking to himself in between his lines of prose. He bounces back from vs3 with another faith-filled request for God to deliver him. His confident request is grounded on the certainty he has regained that God loves him in a way that is utterly steadfast and immoveable.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
Remembering God’s love, it feels like David’s lament for grace, healing and deliverance becomes a cheeky logical prayer argument. David says to God; “Listen I’m of more use to You alive than dead! After all God; if I’m dead I won’t be able even to remember You, and if I’m dead I can’t give you praise from down there in Sheol – so you might as well save me while You still can LORD.”
God can handle it all, though! God can handle our questions, our praise, our logic and our nonsense.
6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.
Lament is exhausting, strength-sapping. David has cried so much that his couch is drenched. The continual river of tears have left their mark on his eyes & wearied him.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
Lament is replaced by confidence, David has reached the point in his lament where in his heart he knows that God has heard his cries and has accepted his prayer.
In once sense, nothing has changed, and yet nothing is the same. David is now certain that he and his God are reconciled since God has heard and accepted his request for grace & healing. And so David commands his enemies with the confidence of one who knows – God is on my side! The uncertainty of the future has become certain in an instant. No more details of the future are known, but this unshakeable truth is now certain – God is with me!
Psalm 84 was written in the era of the old covenant when God’s presence was tied to a place but now in this era of Jesus having come, the temple curtain having been torn and the Holy Spirit having been sent by the risen Christ this is my re-mix version of the Psalm especially in the light of John 1:1-14 & 1 Corinthians 6:19. Original in italics, remix in bold.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
How special & privileged are all people in whom Your Spirit dwells now, God almighty!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;
My soul longs for, yes even despairs when I am not intimate with You Father;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
My heart, my whole being responds to your tangible presence, God who is alive in me.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even sparrows have a place they belong, & swallows a place of safety for bearing young
at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. In Your presence O God almighty
They’re in Your presence continually almighty God, my King and my God
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those who live aware of your presence, they will always be worshipping You!
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
those whose hearts are set on eternity with You now and forever.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
Because You’re with them, even in them, even desolate hard times & places can be transformed into times & places full of the life of God & refreshing;
7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
Those who walk with You and with You in them are getting stronger each day until each one appears in glory in Your glorious presence at Your appearing at the end of the age.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
God almighty, Father God, God of covenant promises please hear my prayer now.
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
I speak to myself saying; ‘Behold your defender, God with you’. Father please see me now.
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
Father God, better is one day with You, in your presence, having You within me than thousands elsewhere far from You.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
The allure of the world has no allure for me I am content to know You, to know Your presence to know I am your child, I don’t need fame or fortune when I have You.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.
God You’re the One who gives me life, You’re my protector, You bless me again and again and care about my honour.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
God, You are better than I could have ever imagined, more gracious, loving, generous & kind towards those who have put their faith in You.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
God almighty, blessed is anyone who puts their trust in You!