How pleasant, how divinely fair,
O, Lord of Hosts, thy dwellings are!
With long desire my spirit faints
To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
My flesh would rest in thy abode;
My panting heart cries out for God;
My God! my King! why should I be
So far from all my joys and thee?
The sparrow chooses where to rest,
And for her young provides her nest:
But will my God to sparrows grant
That pleasure, which his children want?
Blest are the saints, who sit on high,
Around thy throne of majesty;
Thy brightest glories shine above,
And all their work is praise and love.
Blest are the souls, who find a place
Within the temple of thy grace;
There they behold thy gentler rays,
And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
Blest are the men, whose hearts are set
To find the way to Zion's gate:
God is their strength, and through the road
They lean upon their helper, God.
Cheerful they walk, with growing strength,
Till all shall meet in heaven at length;
Till all before thy face appear,
And join in nobler worship there.
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Psalms 84:3
The tender care of God, over the least of his creatures, is here most touchingly alluded to. The Psalmist, while in exile, envies them their privileges. He longs to be nestling, as it were, in the dwelling-place of God. The believer finds a perfect home and rest in God’s altars; or, rather, in the great truths which they represent. Still, his confidence in God is sweetened and strengthened by the knowledge of his minute, universal, providential care. It becomes his admiring delight. “God fails not,” as one has beautifully said, “to find a house for the most worthless, and a nest for the most restless of birds.” What confidence this should give us! How we should rest! What repose the soul finds that casts itself on the watchful, tender care of him who provides so fully for the need of all his creatures! We know what the expression of “nest” conveys, just as well as that of “a house.” Is it not a place of security, a shelter from storm, a covert to hide oneself in, from every evil, a protection from all that can harm, “a place to rest in, to nestle in, to joy in”? But there is one thing in these highly privileged birds which strikes us forcibly in our meditations--they knew not him from whom all this kindness flowed--they knew neither his heart nor his hand. They enjoyed the rich provisions of his tender care; he thought of everything for their need, but there was no fellowship between them and the Great Giver. From this, O my soul, thou mayest learn a useful lesson. Never rest satisfied with merely frequenting such places, or with having certain privileges there; but rise, in spirit, and seek and find and enjoy direct communion with the living God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The heart of David turns to God himself. “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
Things New and Old