Summary: 4 keys for a successful passage through life.
READ: Psalm 84
We began to look at some verses of this Psalm together the last Sunday morning I was preaching, and you may recall that I didn’t finish all that I wanted to share with you and so we return to it again today.
To refresh your memory: This is a “Psalm of Pilgrimage”. It is set in the “glory days” of Israel, when they were a united kingdom with their own land. King David was most likely on the throne when it was written. Every year crowds would flock to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. They would make the journey from every part of the territories occupied by Israel. They would make their pilgrimage to the Holy City to worship at the Temple.
This Psalm is the musing of one unnamed pilgrim as he makes his way up to Jerusalem. He’s longing to get to God’s house - he has this intense desire for the House of God. He longs to be with the company of God’s people, worshipping. We read his heart’s cry in verses 1-2.
This traveller is even jealous of birds ! The Temple courtyards were open to the sky, and the great eaves provided a place for good nesting, so there were always these birds in and around the Temple. The writer exclaims: “Oh, to be one of those birds who can make their homes right there in the House of God.” Verses 3-4. He’s left his work-a-day life behind him. He’s headed up to worship, and he’s just longing for God’s presence.
That is the theme of Psalm 84, set for us in the opening verses. But then we zeroed in, for the focus of our attention, on what follows in verses 5-8. Here we see: “Advice for Travellers”. In order to get “HOME” to God’s presence, the Psalmist knows that there is a JOURNEY to be made. He describes this journey as a “happy” one (“blessed is the man”), because the thought of the destination motivates him. Even through HARSH, difficult, dangerous places - “blessed is the man”.
This is a very clear picture of OUR journey (our pilgrimage) through life. If you look up 1 Peter 1:17, and 2:11 you’ll see that Peter describes the Christian in just exactly these terms: a “sojourner”, a “pilgrim” - literally a “resident alien”. We are passing through this world, our destination is “The Heavenly City” - God’s Eternal Presence. And we do well to remind ourselves of this every day, to keep our priorities straight and true.
Now in these verses, as I began to deal with them last time, we discover that there are 4 Keys For A Successful Passage Through Life. (Would you like to have a successful, victorious journey through life and over into eternity ? Well there are some guiding principles right here - verses 5 to 8).
The first key we looked at already, and it is this:
1. LOOK TO GOD ALONE FOR YOUR STRENGTH.
It’s that first statement of verse 5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in YOU”. What an all-important key this is; testified to by every page of Scripture.
The Christian life is not merely “hard” - it is IMPOSSIBLE without God’s strength. Jesus, God our Saviour, is both “the author and finisher of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:2). He commences this work of salvation in us, He continues it in us, and He will complete it the first day we stand before God in Eternity. To live this life we MUST have God’s saving strength, His keeping strength, His enabling strength. Our own resources are completely inadequate.
Yet, so often, our greatest battlefield still is about learning to trust Him instead of trying to do it on our own steam. Remember the Zecheriah 4:6 principle: “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord”.
HOW do we live in God’s strength ? Primarily by our waiting on the Lord. A consistent devotional life - time in God’s Word and in His Presence. “They that WAIT UPON THE LORD (literally) shall RENEW STRENGTH”.
So, the first key for a successful passage through life we looked at was LOOK TO GOD ALONE FOR YOUR STRENGTH. Then the second key we found also in verse 5 is to:
2. PUT YOUR HEART INTO THE JOURNEY.
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, WHOSE HEART IS SET ON PILGRIMAGE.”
Make your lifetime count! We ought not to be people who are just letting life pass us by - being dictated to by our circumstances. We MUST have our eyes on the finish line, but our energies, our heart, our hands and feet ought to be occupied with making the journey count; living for Jesus! Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ!”