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Psalm 84: Doorkeeper, sun and shield

Lynne Baab • Wednesday September 23 2020

Psalm 84: Doorkeeper, sun and shield

What would it feel like to be a doorkeeper in God’s house? I wonder what that picture says to you. Sometimes I think of standing at the door of a beautiful place, welcoming others in, greeting them individually, complimenting them on something lovely about them, then getting them settled into God’s house. Other times I imagine a scene without people. I picture myself standing at the doorway of an extravagant, light-filled place, looking inside, soaking up the serenity and feeling a deep peace and goodness.

I love words that create visual pictures, and this post focuses on a few verses in Psalm 84 that have three word pictures:

   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 live in the tents of wickedness.
   For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
          he bestows favor and honor.
   No good thing does the LORD withhold
          from those who walk uprightly.
   O LORD of hosts,
          happy is everyone who trusts in you.
   —Psalm 84:10-12

I invite you to ponder the doorkeeper picture. For you, does it evoke welcome? Enjoying the splendor of God’s house? Does it convey humility? A combination of two or three of those? Or something else?

I also invite you to ponder the notion of God as a sun. Perhaps that brings to mind the many places God is compared to light. “I am the light of the world,” says Jesus (John 8:12), and Jesus also calls himself the “bright morning star” (Rev 22:16). God’s word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). We all need God’s light every day.

Or maybe for you, comparing God to the sun evokes the solar system. Maybe you enjoy thinking of God as the center, the One who orients your life in space, the One who is at the center of earth’s orbit and your own orbit, too.

God is also a shield. What kind of shield? A shield for battle, to keep arrows from hitting us? A shield that protects us from the evil rays from the death star?

Maybe “sun and shield” are used together because they complement each other. The sun keeps us warm and lights up our world. But sometimes we need to be shielded from the strength of the sun’s heat.

Hopefully one of these word pictures will be helpful to you today. Maybe you can take the time to imagine yourself standing at the door of God’s beautiful home, welcoming others or gazing at God’s glory. Perhaps you can picture God’s light shining into the challenging parts of your life. Maybe you can pause to reflect on the ways God is at the center of your solar system, also shielding you from evil.

Creative and imaginative God, give us the pictures that help us navigate our lives. Help us find words and images that enable us to stop and listen to your voice of love, guidance, strength, and peace. Come close to us, gentle and powerful Jesus, and help us receive your love and know how to give it to others. Amen.

(Next week: the first of three posts on passages in Matthew, God’s presence in turbulent seas and heavy winds. Illustration by Dave Baab; Church of the Good Shepherd in New Zealand. I love to get new subscribers. Sign up below to receive an email when I post on this blog.)

This is the third post in a series on Psalm 84. Previous posts:

Personal note: Dave and I, to our total surprise, have moved back to New Zealand. Here’s my second blog post about what quarantine is like, with photos, on an old travel blog I used to use when we lived in New Zealand.

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