Saturday, May 23, 2009

For A Day in Thy Courts

For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

I grew up singing the Psalms. At least occasionally. However, my theological understanding never caught up with my increasing ineraction with the Psalms: what exactly were they about?

Praise. Sure. God. Certainly. But how was it applicaable to me--to the 21st century?

First of all, context is important. This verse is embedded in a larger worship-context (v.1, 2, 4, 10). In fact, this verse lists "courts" and "house" in contrast to "tents." Does this mean that we need to live at the local church building?

Yes & No.

Yes insofar as Heaven will be a state of continuous worship unfathonable to our earthly minds. Hebrews 12:22-24 combines our earthly worship with "company of firstborn who are registered in heaven."

No insofar as God has not required this from us this side of eternity. We still have six days of work.

Secondly, the language is important. "Courts" and "house of my God" clearly refer to where God dwells. In the OT language, temple, court, house and tabernacle speak first of all to the physical local in Jerusalem. They speak secondly (and ultimately and most significantly) of God's spiritual dwelling among His people. This is not to deny God's omnipresence. It is to point out that God has chosen in a unique and special manner to manifest His presence at the temple.

And how did the average Jew participate in God's presence? Through public worship. They were required to bring sacrifices whenever sin was discovered (peace offerings, etc.). Three times a year the men were to attend public worship (Ex. 34:22, 23). And these sacrifices (just another form of worship) were accomplished at the temple. The priests were always present at the sacrifices and actually enacted most the sacrifices solely.

Thus you can see how important is the knowledge of the NT. The entire book of Hebrews points out that the sacrifices, temple and priests all pointed to Christ. To understand the person and work of Christ in OT language was to attend public worship wherein various and sundry sacrifices graphically pictured sin and redemption.

So what? How does this apply to you today?

If you wish to echo this godly desire of David, then desire public worship. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that worship in Jerusalem would not longer be required (John 4:23). What He did not say was that public worship itself would no longer be required (Acts 20:7). Who would really believe that?

It is in public worship that you have a foretaste of heaven. It is there that God especially dwells amongst His people's praise. Where two or more are gathered in God's name there He especially is.

A day in the public worship of God is better than a thousand days anywhere else. I had rather be a lowly servant in the church of my God than to live with the wicked of this world.


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