GETTING THE MESSAGE/Psalm 84
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:00 PM
Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” We may worry about what it means to be pure in heart. Pure to us implies no defect, something undiluted, or perfect. We worry because we know that we aren’t pure or perfect in our thoughts or actions. Jesus uses the word to describe a heart that has been converted. It is pure in that it has genuinely surrendered to Christ, and God now is their best joy. To be pure in heart means your faith is genuine.
Psalm 84 is a reflection of a heart pure in this way. The first thing we notice is how enjoyable the worship of the Lord is to this soul. He loves the dwelling place of the Lord (verse 1). His hearts longs or even faints for the courts of the Lord (verse 2). The dwelling place of the Lord is the place where his people gather to worship him. To the psalmist it would have been the tabernacle or temple area. For us it is worship with other Christians on the Lord’s Day.
It isn’t possible to be pure in heart and not find joy in the worship of the Lord. If you find yourself struggling with this, then you must go to the cross and see what a great salvation it is that Christ provided to make you right with God. Nowhere else will you find the right motivation to enjoy the worship of the Lord. There is no one pure in heart that is not humbled and affected by the truth of the cross of Christ.
Another sign of the pure in heart is that they reckon themselves pilgrims. The Israelites in the Old Testament would journey from all over Israel to Jerusalem for set times of festivals and times of worship. The strength for the journey came from their anticipation of arriving and worshipping the Lord. The psalmist says they have set their hearts on pilgrimage (verse 5). They will not be discouraged by obstacles along the path because they love the destination.
Even if they come to the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs (verse 6). The Valley of Baca represents the difficult part of the journey. For the Christian it means hard times; suffering times, the kind that challenge your faith. That is when the promise of the destination rises above the momentary trial. A Christian is someone not only inevitably headed to God, but one who looks forward to it. It is the main motivation of their life.
You would have never thought by reading some of Paul’s epistles that he was in prison if he didn’t mention it. The epistles are so full of praise to God, love, joy, and encouragement to Christians you would have not guessed he suffered so. Paul turned many dry valleys into springs by faith. He did so even when he faced death in prison. He looked forward to an incorruptible inheritance. He boasted of being a pilgrim in this world. It is one of the signs of the pure in heart.
This doesn’t mean Christians don’t get discouraged for a time. Nevertheless as the psalmist says, they go from “strength to strength (verse 7).” You might have such a trial that you don’t feel very strong. You, in fact, feel weak, even fearful. Do you still believe the promise of Christ? Do you believe he loved you and gave himself for you? If so, the trial, however severe, has not weakened you. You don’t have a different pilgrimage; it’s just a difficult part of the same path.
C.S Lewis once wrote about the pure in heart: “They don’t put their happiness in something they might lose.” Jesus told Martha about her sister: “Mary has chosen the better portion, and it will not be taken from her.” He meant that Mary had chosen him as her chief good. No one can snatch one of Christ’s people out of his hand. They will be blessed and happy with nothing to detract from it in due time.
We see this heart in the psalmist in verse 10. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” There is love in this statement. True love is reflected in love to God. When we give ourselves entirely to him, we can seek his glory in all circumstances. That is what heaven is. Heaven is a world of love, and all to God’s glory which is to our joy.
This world’s darkness and pain hides this even from the pure in heart at times. Yet their hearts conclude with the psalmist in verse 12: “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”