Here, I. The psalmist prays for audience and acceptance with God, not mentioning particularly what he desired God would do for him. He needed to say no more when he had professed such an affectionate esteem for the ordinances of God, which now he was restrained and banished from. All his desire was, in that profession, plainly before God, and his longing, his groaning, was not hidden from him; therefore he prays (Ps. 84:8, 9) only that God would hear his prayer and give ear, that he would behold his condition, behold his good affection, and look upon his face, which way it was set, and how his countenance discovered the longing desire he had towards God’s courts. He calls himself (as many think) God’s anointed, for David was anointed by him and anointed for him. In this petition, 1. He has an eye to God under several of his glorious titles—as the Lord God of hosts, who has all the creatures at his command, and therefore has all power both in heaven and in earth,—as the God of Jacob, a God in covenant with his own people, a God who never said to the praying seed of Jacob, Seek you me in vain,—and as God our shield, who takes his people under his special protection, pursuant to his covenant with Abraham their father. Gen. 15:1; Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield. When David could not be hidden in the secret of God’s tabernacle (Ps. 27:5), being at a distance from it, yet he hoped to find God his shield ready to him wherever he was. 2. He has an eye to the Mediator; for of him I rather understand those words, Look upon the face of thy Messiah, thy anointed one, for of his anointing David spoke, Ps. 45:7. In all our addresses to God we must desire that he would look upon the face of Christ, accept us for his sake, and be well-pleased with us in him. We must look with an eye of faith, and then God will with an eye of favour look upon the face of the anointed, who does show his face when we without him dare not show ours.
II. He pleads his love to God’s ordinances and his dependence upon God himself.
1. God’s courts were his choice, Ps. 84:10. A very great regard he had for holy ordinances: he valued them above any thing else, and he expresses his value for them, (1.) By preferring the time of God’s worship before all other time: A day spent in thy courts, in attending on the services of religion, wholly abstracted from all secular affairs, is better than a thousand, not than a thousand in thy courts, but any where else in this world, though in the midst of all the delights of the children of men. Better than a thousand, he does not say days, you may supply it with years, with ages, if you will, and yet David will set his hand to it. “A day in thy courts, a sabbath day, a holy day, a feast-day, though but one day, would be very welcome to me; nay” (as some of the rabbin paraphrase it), “though I were to die for it the next day, yet that would be more sweet than years spent in the business and pleasure of this world. One of these days shall with its pleasure chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, to shame, as not worthy to be compared.” (2.) By preferring the place of worship before any other place: I would rather be a door-keeper, rather be in the meanest place and office, in the house of my God, than dwell in state, as master, in the tents of wickedness. Observe, He calls even the tabernacle a house, for the presence of God in it made even those curtains more stately than a palace and more strong than a castle. It is the house of my God; the covenant-interest he had in God as his God was the sweet string on which he loved dearly to be harping; those, and those only, who can, upon good ground, call God theirs, delight in the courts of his house. I would rather be a porter in God’s house than a prince in those tents where wickedness reigns, rather lie at the threshold (so the word is); that was the beggar’s place (Acts 3:2): “no matter” (says David), “let that be my place rather than none.” The Pharisees loved synagogues well enough, provided they might have the uppermost seats there (Matt. 23:6), that they might make a figure. Holy David is not solicitous about that; if he may but be admitted to the threshold, he will say, Master, it is good to be here. Some read it, I would rather be fixed to a post in the house of my God than live at liberty in the tents of wickedness, alluding to the law concerning servants, who, if they would not go out free, were to have their ear bored to the door-post, Exod. 21:5, 6. David loved his master and loved his work so well that he desired to be tied to this service for ever, to be more free to it, but never to go out free from it, preferring bonds to duty far before the greatest liberty to sin. Such a superlative delight have holy hearts in holy duties; no satisfaction in their account comparable to that in communion with God.
2. God himself was his hope, and joy, and all. Therefore he loved the house of his God, because his expectation was from his God, and there he used to communicate himself, Ps. 84:11. See, (1.) What God is, and will be, to his people: The Lord God is a sun and shield. We are here in darkness, but, if God be our God, he will be to us a sun, to enlighten and enliven us, to guide and direct us. We are here in danger, but he will be to us a shield to secure us from the fiery darts that fly thickly about us. With his favour he will compass us as with a shield. Let us therefore always walk in the light of the Lord, and never throw ourselves out of his protection, and we shall find him a sun to supply us with all good and a shield to shelter us from all evil. (2.) What he does, and will, bestow upon them: The Lord will give grace and glory. Grace signifies both the good-will of God towards us and the good work of God in us; glory signifies both the honour which he now puts upon us, in giving us the adoption of sons, and that which he has prepared for us in the inheritance of sons. God will give them grace in this world as a preparation for glory, and glory in the other world as the perfection of grace; both are God’s gift, his free gift. And as, on the one hand, wherever God gives grace he will give glory (for grace is glory begun, and is an earnest of it), so, on the other hand, he will give glory hereafter to none to whom he does not give grace now, or who receive his grace in vain. And if God will give grace and glory, which are the two great things that concur to make us happy in both worlds, we may be sure that no good thing will be withheld from those that walk uprightly. It is the character of all good people that they walk uprightly, that they worship God in spirit and in truth, and have their conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity; and such may be sure that God will withhold no good thing from them, that is requisite to their comfortable passage through this world. Make sure grace and glory, and other things shall be added. This is a comprehensive promise, and is such an assurance of the present comfort of the saints that, whatever they desire, and think they need, they may be sure that either Infinite Wisdom sees it is not good for them or Infinite Goodness will give it to them in due time. Let it be our care to walk uprightly, and then let us trust God to give us every thing that is good for us.
Lastly, He pronounces those blessed who put their confidence in God, as he did, Ps. 84:12. Those are blessed who have the liberty of ordinances and the privileges of God’s house. But, though we should be debarred from them, yet we are not therefore debarred from blessedness if we trust in God. If we cannot go to the house of the Lord, we may go by faith to the Lord of the house, and in him we shall be happy and may be easy.