Heart Songs: Week Three | Entering God's Sanctuary (Psalm 84)

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Long for God

Most people have never heard of the evangelist A.B. Earle. Yet over fifty years in the 1800s, he traveled 325,000 miles across America, preached 19,780 times, and witnessed 150,000 conversions to Jesus Christ. Earle trekked from city to city, uniting local churches into powerful crusade services.

To the surprise of many, Earle wasn't a great preacher. His skills were average, his voice was plain, his facial expressions were unattractive, and his sermons were dated. His speaking wasn't highly emotional, plus his grammar and rhetoric were faulty.

But when Earle spoke, God's presence and power gripped his listeners. The reality of the Holy Spirit seemed to descend. After his services, people were often heard praying at midnight in the streets and houses.

Earle had discovered the secret to a powerful ministry. While he began to preach in 1830 at the age of eighteen, thirty years later in 1860, he began to feel an inexpressible longing for the fullness of Christ. As he wrote, "I loved the ministry but felt inward unrest. Seasons of joy would be followed by doubt. In this state, I was vulnerable to severe attacks of the enemy." Like the psalmist in today's verses, Earle spent time in prayer and longed to be in God's presence. Because of his time spent in God's presence, Earle had a remarkable impact on his world (adapted from Robert J. Morgan, From This Verse [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998]).

During the next several days, take time to study the essential principles from the psalmist and apply them to your relationship with Jesus.

Read the verses below and answer the following questions:

"How lovely is Your tabernacle,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, even faints

For the courts of the LORD;

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (Psalm 84:1-2).

Practical Observation

1. How is the tabernacle described, and who resides in it?

2. What title did the psalmist give Him? Why is it important to reflect on this?

God's Throne. One Hebrew name for God is Jehovah-Sabaoth, which translates to the Lord of Hosts. This name refers to God the Savior surrounded by His heavenly hosts of power. "I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left" (1 Kings 22:19).

3. What did the psalmist say about his soul? What about his heart and flesh? What emotions do you think he was trying to convey here?

God's Presence. To cry means to shout aloud for joy or triumphantly rejoice. Nothing satisfies our longing for the living God but intimate fellowship with Him. Our hearts spontaneously erupt with joy when we enter His presence. "Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you" (Isaiah 12:6, NIV).

Personal Application

a. The psalmist's whole being—soul, heart, and flesh—longed for the privilege of being in the presence of the living God. What is it that you long for?

b. In what specific ways do your heart (mind, will, and emotions) and flesh (physical body) cry out for the living God?

1. Heart (example: peace, forgiveness)

2. Flesh (example: rest in His presence, expressive praise)

God's Command. Our flesh seldom desires anything good, "for I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells" (Romans 7:18). But sometimes, our weary flesh assists our hearts by demanding physical rest and rejuvenation. God commands us to observe a Sabbath—one day set aside for reflection and worship—to cry out for all our needs.

In God's house or tabernacle, everyone is welcomed and can find a place of refuge, friendship, and tolerance. As the psalmist celebrated loveliness and cried out for the Lord's company, we too can look to His beauty and draw near to Him. Only by going to God in praise, worship, and spending time among His people can we find peace, recovery, and healing.