Jump Start # 2714
Psalms 84:10 “For a day in Your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.”
Much of the wisdom literature is written as contrasts. In Proverbs, it’s the fool contrasted to the wise. In Ecclesiastes, it’s one thing that is better than another thing. And, here, our verse from Psalms, shows us another great contrast. Being with the Lord is contrasted to being apart from the Lord. One day compared to a thousand days. Threshold compared to tents. Standing contrasted to living. God contrasted to the wicked.
There are some lessons for us:
First, it’s one or the other. It’s not both. It’s not being in God’s courtyards and then going off elsewhere. It’s not standing in the house of God and then living in tents. It’s one or the other. And, that alone throws many people. They want both. They want to live in tents of wickedness yet spend a day in God’s house. And such a cavalier spirit reflects the emptiness of religion in America. Rather than pulling people closer to God through the preaching of His word, too many have opened the door to rock shows, skits, plays, and fun and games. It’s what people are interested in, they say. It’s the only way to attract a crowd these days, they believe.
Our verse doesn’t allow both. It’s either living in tents or standing in the threshold. All in with God or not in at all.
Second, the value of one day of worship surpasses long periods of superficial pleasure without God. One day compared to a thousand days. A thousand days is more than two and half years. The comparison isn’t close. It’s not a day compared to three days. It’s not one day compared to a week. It’s one day compared to two and half years. The Psalmist saw the true and lasting value of being with the Lord. The encouragement, the growth, the fellowship, the depth, the insights, the spiritual comfort—those are all life changing and character building. A thousand days of fun and games may make us feel better, but they do not make us any better. The feelings are soon forgotten and we remain the same. However, that day within God’s temple can alter one’s future and eternity. It can change the direction that his entire family is traveling. It can be life saving.
What does this tell us about missing services? Oh, it’s just one service we say. Yes, it’s just one, but what a difference that one can make.
Third, there are things we find in the presence of God and in worship that can not be found anywhere else. Given a thousand days and the Psalmist wouldn’t have what he found in that one day in the temple. The living in tents would be comfortable. Tents back then, were like mobile houses. They were large, had carpeted rugs and very spacious. It’s not the tents we take camping these days. One could live in tents. Israel’s first place of worship was in a tent—we call it the tabernacle. And as nice and comforting as those tents would be, they wouldn’t help the person on the inside. In the presence of God, holiness intersects with us. Goodness is placed before our eyes. Faithfulness, trust and love become living concepts. The tents of wickedness won’t give you such insights and hope.
Worship is good. It brings together those who believe. And, in this period of Zoom, and internet church, we must remember, that is not nearly as good, nor can it ever equal or replace our coming together. We need to be together. Those that remain isolated will not have the wonderful benefits as being with each other. Imagine having Thanksgiving dinner via Zoom. Just not the same. It’s like watching a ballgame on TV or actually being in the stands. Not the same.
One day in the courtyards—not even within the Temple structure itself, just the courtyards. That one day is better than a thousand days outside. This ought to make us realize why Sunday is the best day of the week. It ought to put a wonderful desire in our hearts to anticipate and long for Sunday worship. Powerful, beneficial and enjoyable is our worship to the Lord.
One day better than a thousand. Sure is something to think about.