Psalms 84:5 MEANING

Psalm 84:5
(5-7) In these verses, as in the analogous picture (Isaiah 35:6-8; comp. Hosea 2:15-16), there is a blending of the real and the figurative; the actual journey towards Sion is represented as accompanied with ideal blessings of peace and refreshment. It is improbable that the poet would turn abruptly from the description of the swallows in the Temple to what looks like a description of a real journey, with a locality, or at all events a district, which was well known, introduced by its proper name, and yet intend only a figurative reference. On the other hand, it is quite in the Hebrew manner to mix up the ideal with the actual, and to present the spiritual side by side with the literal. We have, then, here recorded the actual experience of a pilgrim's route. But quite naturally and correctly has the world seen in it a description of the pilgrimage of life, and drawn from it many a sweet and consoling lesson.

(5) Blessed is the man.--Or collective, men, as the suffix, their hearts, shows.

Ways.--From a root meaning to cast up--and so highways marked by the heaps of stone piled up at the side (Isaiah 57:14). In Jeremiah 18:15 mere footways or bypaths are contrasted, and so the highway lends itself as a metaphor for the way of peace and righteousness (Proverbs 12:28), as it is taken here by the Chaldee and some modern expositors. But this moral intention is secondary to the actual desire to join the pilgrim band towards Sion, and this the verse describes in words which are echoed exactly in our own Chaucer:

"So pricketh hem Nature in her corages (in their hearts)

Than longen folk to go on pilgrimages."

The well-known and deeply loved route to the sacred shrine is in their minds, their hearts are set upon it.

Verse 5. - Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. God is the "Strength" of all who trust in him. The psalmist seems to mean that mere dwelling in the house of God is not enough for blessedness. Trust in God - having God for one's Strength - is also requisite (comp. ver. 12). In whose heart are the ways of them; literally, in whose heart are highways. The "highways" intended are probably those of holiness (comp. Proverbs 16:17 and Isaiah 35:8).

84:1-7 The ordinances of God are the believer's solace in this evil world; in them he enjoys the presence of the living God: this causes him to regret his absence from them. They are to his soul as the nest to the bird. Yet they are only an earnest of the happiness of heaven; but how can men desire to enter that holy habitation, who complain of Divine ordinances as wearisome? Those are truly happy, who go forth, and go on in the exercise of religion, in the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, from whom all our sufficiency is. The pilgrims to the heavenly city may have to pass through many a valley of weeping, and many a thirsty desert; but wells of salvation shall be opened for them, and consolations sent for their support. Those that press forward in their Christian course, shall find God add grace to their graces. And those who grow in grace, shall be perfect in glory.Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, Or, "for thee", as some choose to render the words; who have bodily strength from the Lord, for his worship and service, to go up to his house, and serve him: this, with what follows in the two next verses, seem to refer to the males in Israel going up from different parts of the land to Jerusalem to worship, who had strength so to do; when the women and children, for want thereof, stayed at home, which was their infelicity, as it was the happiness of the males that they had ability for such a journey and service: the Targum is,

"whose strength is in thy Word;''

the essential Word, the Messiah, who have spiritual strength in and from him; see Isaiah 45:24, without this there is no heart to go up to the house of God; and this will carry through a great deal of bodily weakness; and by it saints overcome the temptations of Satan to the contrary, and perform the several duties of religion:

in whose heart are the ways of them; or "thy ways" (x); the ways of God, the ways of Zion, the ways to the house of God; who have these ways at heart, who ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards; who have not only ability, but inclination and readiness of mind, to walk in them; whose hearts are bent upon them, regarding no objection, difficulty, and discouragement; who stir up themselves and others to go up to the house of God, and are heartily desirous of being taught his ways, and walking in them, and take great pleasure and delight therein; they are ways of pleasantness and paths of peace to them; the word properly signifies "highways" (y), ways cast up. Some render it "ascensions in his heart" (z); the affections of whose heart go up to God, like pillars of smoke perfumed with frankincense, are after God, his ways and worship, and are set on things above.

(x) "Semitae tuae", Tigurine version; so Kimchi. (y) "viae stratae", Montanus, Cocceius. (z) "Ascensiones in corde suo", V. L. so Sept.

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