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PSALM 84|DOORKEEPERS

August 27, 2018
Posted by Office Staff

 

 

 

DOORKEEPERS

PSALM 84

AUGUST 26, 2018

 

THE ONLY INFORMATION I HAVE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DOORMAN COMES FROM WATCHING ANY ICONIC MOVIE OR TELEVISION SHOW SET IN NEW YORK CITY.

 

THERE’S ALWAYS THAT STOIC, YET AFFABLE, HELPFUL, GOT-YOUR-BACK DOORMAN IN STORIES SET IN NEW YORK CITY.

 

THEY ARE A COMBINATION OF PROTECTOR OF THE PROPERTY; THE GUARD OUT FRONT; AND THE WELCOMING PRESENCE TO THOSE COMING IN.

 

OH, I ALSO KNOW DOORMEN FROM THE ONE IN THE WIZARD OF OZ.

 

HE STARTS OUT REFUSING DOROTHY AND THE OTHERS ACCESS TO OZ, AND TO THE WIZARD, BUT MELTS AWAY INTO A PUDDLE OF TEARS UPON HEARING DOROTHY DESCRIBE HER LONGING FOR HOME, AND A RETURN TO AUNTIE EM…

 

THE DOORMAN, HAVING AN AUNT EM OF HIS OWN, REVERSES COURSE, AND MAKES DOROTHY AND HER FRIENDS FEATURED GUESTS OF THE WIZARD OF OZ.

 

LOCALLY, THE CASA MARINA HAS SOME PRETTY GREAT DOORMEN, IF YOU CAN CALL THEM THAT.

 

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, THEY ARE BELLMEN, I SUPPOSE, BUT I HAVE YET TO SEE THEM NOT TREAT EVERYONE WHO COMES THROUGH THEIR DOORS (DOORS THEY ALWAYS EAGERLY AND WITH A BIG SMILE OPEN) WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT.

 

WHOEVER’S PASSING THROUGH – THE CLEARLY WELL-TO-DO, THE CURIOUS TOURIST, THE DRESSED DOWN LOCAL HEADED INTO THE ANNUAL FANTASY FEST PET PARADE – ALL ARE TREATED FAMOUSLY WELL, AND AS EQUALS.

 

AND SPEAKING OF GREAT DOORKEEPERS – WE HAVE A PRETTY GOOD SET OF OUR OWN HERE AT PEACE COVENANT, DO WE NOT?

 

CLAUDE AND JOE – ALWAYS FAITHFUL, ALWAYS POSITIVE, ALWAYS ENGAGING OF THOSE WHO ATTEND WORSHIP HERE – BE THEY LIFELONG FRIENDS, LONG TIME CHURCH MEMBERS, OR FIRST TIME VISITORS…

 

JOE AND CLAUDE ARE OFTEN CITED AS ONE OF THE THINGS PEOPLE LOVE MOST ABOUT VISITING OUR CHURCH, AND WHY THEY RETURN YEAR AFTER YEAR TO WORSHIP WITH US.

 

SPEAKING OF GOING TO CHURCH, KAREN SAW WHERE A MINISTER FRIEND OF OURS HAD POSTED ON FACEBOOK HOW SHE RECENTLY MET A MAN WHO DESCRIBED HIMSELF AS A BUZZARD BAPTIST.

 

A BUZZARD BAPTIST?  SHE ASKED INQUISITIVELY.

 

“YEA, HE SAID, I ONLY GO TO CHURCH IF THERE’S FOOD OR SOMEONE HAS DIED.”

 

PSALM 84 SAYS: “I WOULD RATHER BE A DOORKEEPER IN THE HOUSE OF MY GOD THAN LIVE IN THE TENTS OF WICKEDNESS.”

 

PSALM 84 IS BOTH HYMN AND WISDOM LITERATURE.  IT TELLS OF THE JOY OF BEING AND LIVING IN GOD’S PRESENCE.

 

AND WHILE IT IS FOCUSED, AT TIMES, ON THE TEMPLE, ON THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD ACCORDING TO THE HEBREWS, THERE IS WORDING IN THIS PSALM THAT LETS US KNOW THAT THE PSALMIST IS NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT THE TEMPLE;

 

BUT WHEREVER GOD IS PRESENT.

 

THE WORDS USED FOR AND TRANSLATED INTO DWELLING PLACE ARE MEANT AS A TERM FOR WHERE A PERSON STAYS OVERNIGHT, AND NOT JUST PEOPLE, BUT WHERE ANIMALS ARE HOUSED AS WELL.

 

“HOW LOVELY IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE, O LORD OF HOSTS! MY SOUL LONGS, INDEED IT FAINTS FOR THE COURTS OF THE LORD; MY HEART AND MY FLESH SING FOR JOY TO THE LIVING GOD.

 

EVEN THE SPARROW (CONSIDERED TO BE THE LEAST OF BIRDS) FINDS A HOME, AND THE SWALLOW A NEST FOR HERSELF, WHERE SHE MAY LAY HER YOUNG, AT YOUR ALTARS, O LORD OF HOSTS, MY KING AND MY GOD.”

 

DO YOU SEE?  THE PSALMIST NOT ONLY SPEAKS OF THE GRANDEUR OF GOD, AND OF THE TEMPLE – THE ULTIMATE HOLY PLACE FOR ANY GOOD JEW – BUT ALSO OF HOW GOD IS THE GOD OF ALL PLACES, EVEN IN THE NESTS OF THE LOWLIEST OF BIRDS.

 

THEN THE PSALM SHIFTS GEARS A BIT.  THE FOCUS IS NO LONGER ON GOD, OR THE TEMPLE, OR WHEREVER GOD IS;

 

NOW, THE PSALMIST SPEAKS OF WHAT IT’S LIKE FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE; WHO TRUST; WHO DWELL IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

 

HAPPY ARE THOSE WHO LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE, EVER SINGING YOUR PRAISE.

HAPPY ARE THOSE WHOSE STRENGTH IS IN YOU, IN WHOSE HEART ARE THE HIGHWAYS OF ZION.

 

… HAPPY IS EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN GOD.

 

YET EVEN IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS HAPPINESS, THE PSALMIST, BY DESCRIBING THE PILGRIMAGE OF THE JEWS TO THE TEMPLE, THROUGH THE VALLEY OF BACA (A PLACE OF GREAT DANGER, THREAT, AND HARM);

 

REMINDS THE READER THAT GOD IS WITH US, MAYBE, ESPECIALLY WITH US, WHENEVER, WHEREVER WE ARE IN DANGER AND DISTRESS.

 

THIS IS THE VERY SORT OF “VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…”

OF WHICH THE 23RD PSALM SPEAKS.

 

THEN, ALMOST AS IF THIS IS AN ANTIPHONAL HYMN, THAT IS, WHERE ONE GROUP SINGS A PART, AND THEN ANOTHER GROUP SINGS IN RESPONSE;

 

THE PSALMIST RETURNS TO SINGING GOD’S PRAISES, AND EXTOLLING GOD’S VIRTUES:

 

GOD OF GODS, OUR PROTECTOR, OUR SUN AND SHIELD, THE ONE WHO ANOINTS OUR HEADS, THE ONE WHO PROVIDES ALL, AND WITHHOLDS NOTHING FROM THOSE WHO WALK UPRIGHTLY.

 

PSALM 84 SWINGS BACK AND FORTH, FROM GOD TO US, FROM US TO GOD; FROM THE DWELLING PLACES OF GOD TO OUR DWELLING IN GOD; FROM WHAT GOD DOES FOR US, TO WHAT WE ARE TO DO FOR GOD.

 

THIS MORNING – I WANT US TO FOCUS ON WHAT IT MEANS FOR US TO BE “DOORKEEPERS IN THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD;”

 

AND, HOW PREFERABLE THAT IS TO: “LIVING IN THE TENTS OF WICKEDNESS.”

 

JUST ON THE FACE OF IT – WE KNOW THAT A TENT IS NOT A HOME.

 

IT IS TEMPORARY; PORTABLE; FINE FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT NOT FOR LIVING IN ALL THE TIME, FOR ALL OUR LIFE.

 

EVEN IN OUR BEST CAMPING EXPERIENCES, ONES WHERE WE’VE HAD A GREAT TIME, AND WONDERFUL EXPERIENCES WE’LL NEVER FORGET; WHEN WE RETURN HOME, WE SAY TO OURSELVES:

 

“WELL, THAT WAS FUN, BUT IT SURE IS NICE TO BE HOME.”

 

DWELLING IN “TENTS OF WICKEDNESS” MAY EVEN BE FUN FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT IT IS NO WAY TO LIVE.  IT LEADS TO HARDSHIP AND HEARTACHE.

 

IT CAN EVENTUALLY DEMORALIZE AND DEFORM US: OUR LIVES, OUR SELVES, OUR SOULS.  REMAINING IN WICKEDNESS IS A SURE WAY TO RUIN.

 

BETTER THAT WE FIND PERMANENCY IN “THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.”

 

SECONDLY, WHAT THE PSALMIST IS SUGGESTING BY HIS COMPARISON HERE, BETWEEN “THE TENTS OF WICKEDNESS” AND “THE HOUSE OF MY GOD” IS THAT IT IS A MATTER OF CHOICE, WHERE WE ABIDE.

 

WE CHOOSE.

 

PEOPLE, SITUATIONS, HARDSHIP, ETC. CAN LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION, INTO WAYWARDNESS, INTO BAD DECISIONS, AND QUESTIONABLE CHOICES, BUT ULTIMATELY, WE CHOOSE.

 

AND WE CAN JUST AS EASILY CHOOSE “PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS;”

 

WITH THE ASSURANCE THAT “YEA, THOUGH WE WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…”

 

“WE NEED NOT FEAR EVIL, FOR GOD IS WITH US, OUR ROD (THAT IS, OUR STRENGTH) AND OUR COMFORTER.”

 

A THIRD THING THE AUTHOR OF THE 84TH PSALM REMINDS US OF IS THE ROLE OF PRAYER IN OUR LIVES.

 

“O LORD GOD OF HOSTS HEAR MY PRAYER; GIVE EAR, O GOD OF JACOB!”

 

PRAYER SHOULD BE A PART OF OUR DAILY LIVES; IT SHOULD BE PART OF OUR UPRIGHT WALK; IT SHOULD BE OUR COMPASS, GUIDE, AND MAP THROUGH LIFE.

 

LIKE COUNTING TO TEN BEFORE SAYING SOMETHING WE PROBABLY SHOULDN’T SAY: PRAYER SHOULD BE OUR COUNTING TO TEN BEFORE DOING SOMETHING WE PROBABLY SHOULDN’T DO;

 

OR EVEN SOMETHING WE SHOULD DO, AS THE CASE MAY BE.

 

PRAYER, AS THE PSALMIST SUGGESTS, IS NOT ONLY OUR WAY OF KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH GOD, BUT A WAY OF KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH OURSELVES;

 

OF CENTERING OURSELVES; OF FINDING OUR TRUE SELF; AND OF STAYING TRUE TO SELF.

PRAYER BRINGS US INTO GOD’S PRESENCE WHEREVER GOD IS; AND BRINGS GOD’S PRESENCE TO WHEREVER WE ARE.

 

“FOR A DAY IN GOD’S COURTS IS BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ELSEWHERE.”

 

AND FINALLY, FROM OUR PSALM, AND FROM ALL WE’VE BEEN SAYING ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS FOR US TO BE “DOORKEEPERS IN THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD…”

 

SIMPLY SPEAKING, MAYBE IT GOES BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING ABOUT DOORKEEPERS IN GENERAL, AT THE BEGINNING OF MY SERMON.

 

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR US TO BE THAT AFFABLE, HELPFUL, WELCOMING PRESENCE – INVITING OTHERS TO COME AND EXPERIENCE GOD?

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR US TO BE BOTH GUARDIAN AND PROTECTOR OF THE FAITH, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, BEING THE ONES TO WELCOME OTHERS INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD?

 

WHAT IF, LIKE THE DOORMEN AT THE CASA, WE TREATED EVERYONE – EVERYONE – EQUALLY; ALIKE; THE SAME; AS ONE WHO IS WELCOME?

 

AND WHAT IF, LIKE CLAUDE AND JOE, WE WERE THE FIRST FACE PEOPLE PUT ON GOD, THE CHURCH, THEIR EXPERIENCE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN BELIEVER?

 

WHAT THE PSALMIST MAY HAVE INTENDED BY HIS COMPARISON OF BEING MERELY A DOORKEEPER AT THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, AS OPPOSED TO LIVING IN THE TENTS OF WICKEDNESS;

 

MAY SUGGEST HUMBLENESS OF HEART, AND MERELY THE HIRED GREETER RATHER THAN THE HOMEOWNER;

 

BUT, AS YOU SEE, THE PSALMIST TURNS THAT IDEA ON ITS HEAD, HONORING THE POSITION OF DOORKEEPER BECAUSE IT IS, INDEED, IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, THAT ONE IS DOING THE GREETING.

 

IN OTHER WORDS, WE SHOULD BE HONORED TO BE THOSE THROUGH WHOM OTHERS ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

 

WE SHOULD PRIZE THE GIFT THAT WE HAVE TO BE THOSE FIRST MET AS GOD’S REPRESENTATIVES OF HIS KINGDOM, AND CHERISH OUR ROLE AS THAT FIRST PRESENCE, THAT FIRST PERSON, THROUGH WHOM OTHERS MAY COME TO KNOW AND BELIEVE IN GOD.

 

IT IS A POSITION OF HONOR; A POSITION OF DISTINCTION; A ROLE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE WE FULFILL IN BEING THE GATEWAY TO GOD’S KINGDOM.

AND IF YOU THINK I AM, PERHAPS, OVER INFLATING THE IMPORTANCE OF SAID ROLE, I OFFER YOU NONE OTHER THAN JESUS HIMSELF AS THE GATEKEEPER; THE SHEEP GATE THROUGH WHICH PEOPLE COME TO GOD.

 

LISTEN TO JESUS’ WORDS FROM THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 10, BEGINNING AT VERSE 7:

 

“VERY TRULY, I TELL YOU, I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP.  ALL WHO CAME BEFORE ME ARE THIEVES AND BANDITS; BUT THE SHEEP DID NOT LISTEN TO THEM.  I AM THE GATE.  WHOEVER ENTERS BY ME WILL BE SAVED AND WILL COME IN AND GO OUT AND FIND PASTURE.

THE THIEF COMES TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY.  I CAME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY.”

 

IT’S THE 84TH PSALM’S “HOUSE OF MY GOD” VERSUS “TENTS OF WICKEDNESS” ALL OVER AGAIN.

 

AND IT IS A CHOICE.  IT IS OUR CHOICE.  AND IT IS FOR OTHERS TO CHOOSE.

 

THE LEAST WE CAN DO, THOSE OF US WHO HAVE ALREADY CHOSEN, IS TO BE “DOORKEEPERS IN THE HOUSE OF MY GOD;” TO STAND READY TO WELCOME THOSE WHO CHOOSE GOD.

 

AND MAYBE, LIKE THOSE “EVERYTHING’S-FIVE-DOLLARS” BARKERS DOWN ON DUVAL STREET, OR WORSE, THOSE COSMETIC SELLERS…

 

BUT IN A GOOD WAY, I’M SAYING, WE NOT ONLY STAND AT THE DOOR OF GOD’S KINGDOM TO WELCOME THOSE WHO COME…

 

BUT WE DO A LITTLE BARKING OF OUR OWN – IN A GOOD WAY, MIND YOU; INVITING OTHERS INTO GOD’S KINGDOM.

 

AND MORE, BETTER THAN WORDS, BY BEING GOOD EXAMPLES OF THE KINGDOM; AND OF CHRIST; WE INVITE OTHERS TO SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO “DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER.”

 

“FOR A DAY IN GOD’S COURTS IS BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ELSEWHERE.”

 

FOR OUR PART:

 

“WE WOULD RATHER BE A DOORKEEPER IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD THAN LIVE IN THE TENTS OF WICKEDNESS.”

 

LET’S REMEMBER THAT THE NEXT TIME WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE; OR WHEN SOMEONE ELSE DOES; LET’S CHOOSE WISELY AND LET’S HELP THEM TO DO SO AS WELL.

 

 

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