Believers are the church.
The word church is also used when referring to the place where believers gather. In our day of apostasy, or for other reasons, believers may not have the opportunity to attend church and worship with other believers. This can be a source of great pain, but the Lord always brings comfort to His children! What a Mighty God we serve!
Psalm 84:1 How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!
Psalm 84:2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Psalm 84:3 The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.
Even thine altars … – The altars where thou art worshipped. The idea here is, that the sparrows and the swallows seemed to have a happy lot; to be in a condition to be envied. Even they might come freely to the place where God was worshipped – to the very altars – and make their home there undisturbed. How strongly in contrast with this was the condition of the wandering – the exiled – author of the psalm!
He was shut out by some unknown circumstances from external participation in the Temple rites, and longs to be even as one of the swallows or sparrows that twitter and flit round the sacred courts.
No doubt to him faith was much more inseparably attached to form than it should be for us.
No doubt place and ritual were more to him than they can permissibly be to those who have heard and understood the great charter of spiritual worship spoken first to an outcast Samaritan of questionable character: ‘Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall men worship the Father.’
But equally it is true that what he wanted was what the outward worship brought him, rather than the worship itself. And the psalm, which begins with ‘longing’ and ‘fainting’ for the courts of the Lord, and pronouncing benedictions on ‘those that dwell in Thy house,’ works itself clear, if I might so say, and ends with ‘O Lord of Hosts! Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee’ – for he shall ‘dwell in Thy house,’ wherever he is…
Do you remember who it was that said – and on what occasion He said it – ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have roosting-places, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head’? (Matthew 8:20)
These words not only may hearten us with confidence that our desires will be satisfied if they are set upon Him, but they point us to the one way by which they are so. Say ‘My King and my God!’ in the deepest recesses of a spirit conscious of His presence, of a will submitting to His authority, of emptiness expectant of His fulness; say that, and you are in the house of the Lord.
For it is not a question of place, it is a question of disposition and desire. This Psalmist, though, when he began his song, he was far away from the Temple, and though he finished it sitting on the same hillside on which he began it, when he had ended it was within the curtains of the sanctuary and wrapt about with the presence of his God.
He had regained as he sang what for a moment he had lost the consciousness of when he began – viz. the presence of God with him on the lone, dreary expanse of alien soil as truly as amidst the sanctities of what was called His House.
So, brethren! if we want rest, let us clasp God as ours; if we desire a home warm, safe, sheltered from every wind that blows, and inaccessible to enemies, let us, like the swallows, nestle under the eaves of the Temple. Let us take God for our Hope.
They that hold communion with Him – and we can all do that wherever we are and whatever we may be doing – these, and only these, ‘dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of their lives.’
For everywhere, to the eye that sees the things that are, and not only the things that seem – and to the heart that feels the unseen presence of the One Reality, God Himself – all places are temples, and all work may be beholding His beauty and inquiring in His sanctuary;…
though our heads rest upon a stone,
and there be night and solitude around us,
and doubt and darkness in front of us,
and danger and terror behind us,
and weakness within us, as was the case with Jacob,
there will be the ladder with its foot at our side and its top in the heavens; and above the top of it His face, which when we see it look down upon us, makes all places and circumstances good and sweet.