Psalm 84 is a good prayer for folks who are a bit cheesed off with the drudgery in the ordinariness of day to day living.
Many commentators say that the psalm fitted the scene when the people of God were getting on with life after returning from exile in Babylon. They had been full of high hopes but the harsh reality was that they found their city and Temple in ruins; people who had not gone into exile were bitter towards them since they thought they stood in greater favour with God because of their faithfulness; neighbouring nations were hostile, and the first order of business had to be building walls for protection, block by weary block. It was anything but the grand homecoming for which they had hoped, and they were severely disappointed.
The psalm fits so many human situations that it soon became a daily prayer for countless other individuals. The song falls into three main sections: the first three verses recall how God had revived their fortunes in the past: “O Lord, remember how you once favoured your land and revived the fortunes of Jacob!”; verses 4-7 express the singer’s petitions for God’s support now in their daily plod, “Will you not restore our lives again?”; and the remaining hope-filled verses give God’s promises of mercy, prosperity and shalom.
If I reflect today on Psalm 84 with its three sections, there’s another three-fold song that comes into my head with its lovely prayer: “day by day, day by day, for these three things I pray: to know Thee more clearly, to love Thee more dearly, and to follow Thee more nearly … day by day.” Know, love and follow. That’s plenty to get on with!
Psalm 84: words (c) The Grail, England; music David Harris (c) Kevin Mayhew. Sung by Grace Buckley.
Psalm 84: words (c) The Grail, England; music (c) Catherine Walker. Sung by Catherine Walker.
Commentary on Ps 84 by Dr Noel Donnelly.