In the days of the Old Covenant, being in the courts of God meant coming close to Him, worshipping, and hearing His Word. The closest they could come to God was the courts of the tabernacle or temple. The priests could go closer, and only the high priest could enter God’s presence very carefully. Only the prophets could hear from The Lord and translate His words to the people.
Today, believers are in the presence of God all the time! He indwells us, He surrounds us, He is with us. But even though He is always with us, we may not choose to acknowledge it by entering His courts, by entreating Him, worshipping Him, and listening to Him. It is a wonderful privilege to enter His courts.
Not just anyone can enter the king’s courts, they have to be invited. Even those closest to the king, their wife or their child, have to be called into his presence. Our King Jesus invites everyone into His courts, but how few hear the summons? How few take the honor seriously and enter by His invitation? Verses 1-2 read,
“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.”
The first thing I note in these verses is God referred to as The Lord of Hosts, The God of Angel Armies. I picture Him as supreme above the fearsome multitudes of angels, our noble Warrior King. Properly replying to His summons requires us to want to enter His courts. When we first came to the Lord, we longed for Him. We were desperate for Him. We understood the difference between life with and without Him. We should keep that same love for Him now that we had then. He has not become any less the Living Dynamic Loving Lord, it is us who became less eager and determined. Jesus spoke through John to the church in Ephesus about this in Revelation 2:2-7, verses 3-5 of that passage say,
“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
If we have forgotten our original passion for Christ, perhaps we need to reflect on our sin and on His passion for us. Our sins were enough that He endured horrific torture and terrible death for us. Our Warrior King, our Noble Holy Righteous King put aside His rights as God so that we could enter His courts and make our home with Him. Verses 3-4 read,
“Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah”
God’s house, Bethel was originally the place where Jacob met with God. (Genesis 28:18-22). It was not just a place, it was Jacob’s mindset of peace and relationship with God. Then God’s house became the tabernacle. His presence rested on the Mercy Seat of the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:33-34). When the temple was built, the Lord resided there. (1 Kings 8:10-13). But today, God’s house is not a place or a building. God lives in His children, the hearts of the church. God’s house is not a church building, God’s house is His church. We are His dwelling place. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 says,
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
And in eternity, in New Jerusalem, He will be with us and among us as well. Revelation 21:2-4 describes it,
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Sin is now the only barrier between people and God and for the believer, He has eradicated sin forever! Nothing stands between us. We are in His presence. That calls for joyful worship, jubilant praise, and glad thanksgiving.
Does it bolster your faith to know that no matter what The Father is with you, regardless of circumstances, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and whatever happens The Holy Spirit will never leave you? Knowing that fills us with joy and even in the most difficult situations, we are strong, not because of our own strength but because of The Lord, our King, our Almighty. We can persist not because of our own perseverance but because of our Father, our Savior, our Comforter. Verses 5-9 read,
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!”
Do we ever have to wonder if God hears our prayers? No, of course He hears them, He lives not only in Heaven, but within our hearts and spirits, where our prayers originate. He hears them before we have spoken them. He knows the words before we form them and even if we never can manage to put words to our cries. Isaiah 65:24 says,
“Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.”
When we pray, God doesn’t look at us and see our corruption, He looks at us and sees the face of Jesus. He looks at us and sees Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus is our mediator, our intercessor between us and The Father. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 says
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time”
Think back to before you were saved. Consider your happiest moments from those days. Do they compare with the unadulterated joy of worshipping the Lord? Does the happiness of that time match the exquisite bliss of salvation? Verses 10-12 read,
“For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
Believer, I encourage you to remember the perfect delight and fiery elation of salvation. Consider what an honor it is to be in the court of the King of kings. Reflect on the immense privilege of not only being with God in His house, but actually being His dwelling place.