Worthlessness and Restlessness Come Home
For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you. Selah
Here is a palm text of longing, of intense yearning for God. It is written by the “Sons of Korah”, a musical guild appointed by King David to “minister with song” (I Chronicles 6:31-32). They composed about 25 psalms that express a deep longing for God. For example, perhaps their best known expression is in Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”
It appears from today’s text that the Sons of Korah are absent from the temple in Jerusalem and thus longing for God’s sacred courts in which they might worship. It was in the temple that God had promised to meet with His people and manifest His presence (I Kings 8). This holy place was precious to the Sons of Korah and they sang: “How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty” (Psalm 84:1).
But while the Sons of Korah are separated from God’s temple they remember sparrow and swallow at home in God’s house. They thought of those birds living in God’s courts as blessed because they were always near God’s presence. The psalmists envy the little creatures for being in God’s house, and feel sorrow that they are not. So they sing of the sparrow and swallow
For the ancient Hebrews the sparrow was a frequent symbol for worthlessness and insignificance. They came to represent that person looked down upon by the community and regarded as a neer-do-well. Yet he finds a home in God.
The fast-flitting sparrow that made its nest near God’s altar was a recurrent symbol for the restless soul. The swallow represented that person ever leaving and ever returning, never settling down, trying this, and trying that. He too, finds a home with God. And all this makes the Sons of Korah long to be in God’s presence, declaring: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
Of course today God makes His home and dwelling place in His people. He lives in us! So the apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians of this precious truth: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in your midst?” (I Corinthians 3:16).
Today we might feel a little bit worthless, perhaps even looked down upon by others. But it is God’s sheer delight to make His home in us, and for us to make our home in Him. Sparrows and swallows can all come home to Him!
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